The Remaining Obstacle To President Trump's Plan For U.S. Energy Dominance

President Trump came into office last year promising a prompt rollback of destructive regulation of carbon dioxide and a new era of "energy dominance" for America.  Just two months into his presidency, in March 2017, Trump issued an Executive Order directing all executive agencies to  "review existing regulations that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources and appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind those that unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources. . . ."   On June 1, 2017, Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accord.  And in October 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced, in a notice of proposed rule making, that the so-called Clean Power Plan -- an Obama-era regulatory initiative seeking to wipe out the generation of electricity by coal in the U.S. -- would be revised or scrapped.

Meanwhile, you can tell from the recent substantial lack of news on the climate front from the mainstream media that climate hysteria, both in the U.S. and internationally, is unraveling with remarkable rapidity.  Just since early 2016, world temperatures are down by about two-thirds of a degree C -- which is well more than half of the 20th century warming.  Canadian and Australian voters are resoundingly repudiating carbon taxes.  In the UK, after years of delay, the first horizontally-drilled wells using fracking technology are finally moving forward.  Germany has conceded that it will come nowhere near its previous carbon-reduction goals, and has stopped making any serious attempt to reach same.  The third world, led by China and India, proceeds with plans to build and deploy some 1600 new coal-fired power plants.  

Obviously, whatever pieties may continue to be uttered, no one with a brain cares about the bogeyman of "carbon emissions" any more.  The U.S., as the leader in fracking technology and with vast reserves of coal, oil and gas, seems poised for the energy dominance promised by the President.  Can anything stop us now?  Unfortunately, there is a significant remaining obstacle.  It is a landmine of the legal variety, planted by the Obama administration with the intent to have it blow up any efforts to revert from fantasy schemes of non-functional intermittent energy back to a system of inexpensive energy that actually works.  

I'm referring, of course, to the so-called Endangerment Finding (EF) of the EPA, issued in 2009, that found CO2 and other "greenhouse gases" constitute a "danger" to human health and safety through contributing to global warming.  Burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) produces CO2.  To stop the burning of fossil fuels, you would more or less need to shut down the economy.  And yet, so far, in the various deregulatory energy initiatives of the Trump EPA and Energy Department, there has been no effort of any kind to take on the EF.  

Most recently EPA has been moving forward with plans to replace the Clean Power Plan.  On July 10, a proposed rule for the replacement was forwarded to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.  It is believed that the proposed new rule would allow coal and other fossil fuel power plants to continue operating, and even be upgraded.  But at this point, further details have not been released.  There is no suggestion that the proposed replacement involves tackling the EF in any respect.

Meanwhile, litigious environmental groups stand at the ready to use the EF in the courts in every way possible to seek to undo deregulation, and to block pipelines, leases, and any or all other development of fossil fuels or associated infrastructure.  Scores of such cases are already pending nationwide.  Here is a link to a Columbia University website that compiles many of these cases from courts around the country.

As one example, in Sierra Club v FERC, decided by the DC Circuit in 2017, the environmental group challenged a permit for new natural gas pipelines on the ground that the relevant environmental impact statement did not consider the impacts of emissions of greenhouse gases (mainly CO2) from the burning of the gas proposed to be transported.  FERC conceded (why?????) that "fossil fuel GHG emissions are the primary driver of climate change."  The court ordered revisions of the EIS to consider that issue -- the start of a process that undoubtedly would trigger a new round of litigation and lead to years of delays, if not killing the project outright.

This website has on multiple occasions covered the repeated invalidation of the EF by the accumulation of real world evidence and application of the scientific method over the last decade.  On inauguration day (January 20, 2017) my client the Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council filed a Petition with EPA demanding reconsideration of the EF and citing definitive research establishing the invalidation of the Finding.  For more on the subject, see "It's Time For EPA To Reconsider And Rescind The Endangerment Finding" from April 2017, and "More Reasons To Vacate The Endangerment Finding" from February 2018.

As long as the EF remains in place, the administration foolishly concedes to environmental activists and random district judges the ability to delay, obstruct, and potentially stop the march to U.S. energy dominance.  With the "science" backing up the EF now thoroughly discredited, there is no reason to make an such concession.