If Nebraska’s top elected officials want to challenge federal Clean Power Plan regulations in court, filing a lawsuit is within their lawful authority, although it might be a waste of money.
But Gov. Pete Ricketts ought to turn down the suggestion that Nebraska refuse to turn in a state plan for complying with the law.
The suggestion that states refuse to submit their compliance plans came from none other than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell, who hails from the coal state of Kentucky, ought to know better. If state officials flout federal authority based on nothing more than an ideological viewpoint, the country could come asunder. Where would it stop?
Opponents of the Clean Power regulations describe the regulations with phrases like “federal overreach” and “illegal” as though the adjectives had a basis in fact.
That’s poppycock, balderdash.
A clear-eyed reading of history shows that Congress granted the federal Environmental Protection Agency the authority to issue the regulations. The courts definitively ruled that greenhouse gases are pollutants within the meaning of the original legislation.
If McConnell and his henchman want to roll back the regulations, they ought to do it the old-fashioned American way -- Congress should do it.
Make no mistake. McConnell has a lot of henchmen.
The coal industry and other fossil fuel barons started plotting strategy long before the Obama administration even began drafting the regulations, as reporting by the New York Times and other news organizations has revealed.
During the process, the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, came up with a dangerous scheme to incentivize state opposition to the Clean Power regulations. The plan is to have state legislatures authorize special funds for challenging the regulations. In addition to using taxpayer money, the funds would include “any gifts, grants and donations” from outside groups, the Washington Post reported. The model legislation was approved in July by ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force, which has members from the nation’s biggest utilities, oil and gas companies and energy trade associations.
The peril in allowing private companies to bankroll the state’s legal challenge is that the companies end up dictating state policy. The public is shoved to the sideline.
The chief argument against the Clean Power Plan regulations is that they are too expensive. The second is that they are unnecessary because there is no need to fight climate change.
If the arguments are as powerful as the foes of the Clean Power Plan regulations think they are, they ought to put them to work in Congress. Instead they are trying an end-around. Who do they think they’re fooling?