Don­ald Trump and en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tion

Three re­forms crit­i­cal to those who cre­ate jobs and de­pend on af­ford­able en­ergy

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Marlo Lewis Marlo Lewis is a se­nior fel­low in en­ergy and en­vi­ron­ment at the Com­pet­i­tive En­ter­prise In­sti­tute.

While Pres­i­dent Trump will need leg­isla­tive ap­proval by Congress to ac­com­plish parts of his eco­nomic pol­icy agenda, he can also im­ple­ment sev­eral crit­i­cal ini­tia­tives on his sole author­ity as chief ex­ec­u­tive. In­creas­ing the af­ford­abil­ity of both U.S. and global en­ergy is an im­por­tant eco­nomic and hu­man­i­tar­ian ob­jec­tive and should be at the top of the list. The fol­low­ing three ac­tions are among the most crit­i­cal Mr. Trump can take to roll back the out­go­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion’s job-killing as­sault on af­ford­able en­ergy.

End U.S. par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment and de­fund the U.N. Green Cli­mate Fund. Con­trary to claims by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, the re­cently ne­go­ti­ated Paris Cli­mate Agree­ment is no mere up­date of the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC). It is a new treaty, de­signed to lock fu­ture ad­min­is­tra­tions and Con­gresses into a pol­icy strait­jacket in­im­i­cal to the pro­duc­tion, trans­port, and use of Amer­ica’s most af­ford­able and abun­dant en­ergy source — fos­sil fu­els, in­clud­ing coal, gas, and oil.

Pres­i­dent Obama re­fused to sub­mit the agree­ment to the Se­nate for its “ad­vice and con­sent,” as re­quired by the Con­sti­tu­tion, even though the pact en­tails greater costs and risks for the United States than any en­vi­ron­men­tal agree­ment in his­tory. Why did the pres­i­dent refuse? Be­cause there was no chance the Se­nate would con­sent to new in­ter­na­tional cli­mate com­mit­ments. Mr. Trump should for­mally with­draw from the agree­ment while clar­i­fy­ing that we never prop­erly joined. He then should sub­mit the agree­ment to the Se­nate for a rat­i­fi­ca­tion vote, where it would likely fail.

For sim­i­lar rea­sons, the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion should zero out the hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars of an­nual fund­ing for the Paris agree­ment’s for­eign aid pro­gram, Green Cli­mate Fund.

Over­turn the Clean Power Plan. The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s (EPA) so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP) is an un­law­ful power grab that will in­crease con­sumer elec­tric­ity prices, re­duce U.S. job and eco­nomic growth, and have no dis­cernible impacts on global warm­ing or sea-level rise. The CPP is an at­tempt to in­flate a three-sen­tence, sel­dom-used pro­vi­sion of the Clean Air Act, Sec­tion 111(d), into a man­date for de-car­boniz­ing the U.S. elec­tric power sec­tor, a pur­pose Congress has not ap­proved.

In­stead of set­ting emis­sion per­for­mance stan­dards that ac­tu­ally re­quire fos­sil-fuel power plants to im­prove their per­for­mance (re­duce the quan­tity of emis­sions per megawatt hour), the CPP im­poses stan­dards no in­di­vid­ual plant can meet, and then gives own­ers the “choice” to com­ply by re­duc­ing out­put, shut­ting down the unit en­tirely, or “in­vest­ing” in new re­new­able gen­er­a­tion. ‘Pro­duce less,’ ‘shut down your fa­cil­ity,’ and ‘sub­si­dize your com­peti­tor’s wind farm’ are il­le­git­i­mate, non-per­for­mance man­dates, not bona fide Clean Air Act per­for­mance stan­dards.

To over­turn the CPP, Mr. Trump should di­rect the Jus­tice Depart­ment to side with the 28 states and nu­mer­ous in­dus­try and non-profit pe­ti­tion­ers chal­leng­ing the Plan as un­law­ful and un­con­sti­tu­tional, if the lit­i­ga­tion reaches the Supreme Court. He could also di­rect the EPA to re-pro­pose the rule af­firm­ing pe­ti­tion­ers’ le­gal the­ory that the Clean Air Act only al­lows the EPA to set per­for­mance stan­dards based on emis­sion-re­duc­tion strate­gies the reg­u­lated fa­cil­i­ties can af­ford­ably im­ple­ment. In ef­fect, this would limit the CPP to re­quir­ing in­cre­men­tal, low­cost, en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency im­prove­ments in coal and gas power plants.

Stop claim­ing huge health ben­e­fits for pol­lu­tion re­duc­tions in ar­eas al­ready at­tain­ing Na­tional Am­bi­ent Air Qual­ity Stan­dards (NAAQS). Over the past two decades, the EPA has re­lied in­creas­ingly on co­in­ci­den­tal re­duc­tions in fine par­tic­u­late mat­ter (PM2.5) pol­lu­tion to in­flate the per­ceived ben­e­fits of its reg­u­la­tions. The most egre­gious ex­am­ple is the agency’s Mer­cury Air Tox­ics Stan­dards rule.

If we con­sider just the haz­ardous air pol­lu­tants tar­geted by the mer­cury rule, the es­ti­mated costs of $9.6 bil­lion in 2016 ex­ceed quan­tifi­able ben­e­fits by up to 2,400 times. To avoid a pub­lic re­la­tions dis­as­ter, the EPA claimed col­lat­eral re­duc­tions in PM2.5 pol­lu­tion would avert thou­sands of deaths, yield­ing up to $90 bil­lion in health ben­e­fits in 2016. How­ever, such es­ti­mates are flim­flam.

Nearly 100 per­cent of the mer­cury rule’s sup­posed PM2.5 co-ben­e­fits are pro­jected to oc­cur in ar­eas where ex­po­sures will al­ready be below the NAAQS for fine par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion. By law, NAAQS must be set at a level “req­ui­site to pro­tect pub­lic health” with “an adequate mar­gin of safety.” Claim­ing multi­bil­lion dol­lar health ben­e­fits for pol­lu­tion re­duc­tions in ar­eas al­ready deemed to have healthy air is sci­en­tif­i­cally il­le­git­i­mate.

Mr. Trump should in­struct fed­eral agen­cies to make their PM2.5 co-ben­e­fit es­ti­mates con­sis­tent with fed­eral NAAQS de­ter­mi­na­tions. Only PM2.5 re­duc­tions from amounts above that stan­dard should be counted in agency cost-ben­e­fit es­ti­mates.

Mr. Trump has many ad­di­tional op­tions to strengthen con­sti­tu­tional dis­ci­pline and qual­ity con­trol in fed­eral reg­u­la­tion. The three dis­cussed above would go a long way to pro­tect the job cre­ators who pro­duce and de­pend on af­ford­able en­ergy.

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency’s (EPA) so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP) is an un­law­ful power grab that will in­crease con­sumer elec­tric­ity prices, re­duce U.S. job and eco­nomic growth,.

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