U.S. Supreme Court justices already have ruled that President Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to shut down coal-fired power plants. But when the court takes another look at the issue early next year, it is possible the EPA will be told it has gone too far.
In 2007, the court ruled the EPA has the authority to issue rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from industries. Justices said the agency can act if there is evidence failure to do so will endanger the public.
In January, the court will hear an appeal in another case involving EPA rules affecting coal-fired power plants. The very fact justices have agreed to consider the case may indicate some are having second thoughts about EPA officials' perception they have been given complete authority.
Attorneys arguing against the agency would do well to focus on the so-called "endangerment" ruling of 2007. Much has changed since then.
For one thing, there are valid questions about how much danger is posed by the climate change Obama and the EPA claim to be fighting. For another, it has been pointed out that even if global warming alarmists are right, unilateral action by the U.S. would have only a miniscule effect on the situation. And finally, there is the issue of EPA action doing more harm than good.
If the agency is allowed to proceed in its campaign, it will continue shutting down coal-fired power plants. Already, the EPA has been responsible for utilities' decisions to close down about 300 coal-fired units in 33 states. Much of the lost generating capacity will be replaced by new gas-fired power plants. Undoubtedly, the cost of electricity generated there will be higher - perhaps twice as much - than power from coal-fired units.
Directly and indirectly, that probably will cost hundreds of thousands of Americans their jobs. Millions of households will pay much more for electricity, leaving them less money for other necessities - such as health care and food.
In other words, all things considered, the EPA's plan will do much more harm than good.
Supreme Court justices should be urged to consider the very matter they pointed to in 2007 - endangerment. If they do, they will rein in Obama and the EPA.