Before the U.S. Supreme Court delayed it, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) sought to impose a costly cap-and-trade carbon emissions scheme on the nation’s power grid—the same rule Congress has considered and rejected several times since 2007.
A 1,500-page regulatory behemoth, the CPP specifies carbon dioxide reduction targets for 47 states as well as three Native American tribal jurisdictions, with the overall goal of reducing carbon emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. In theory, the CPP will reduce the global average temperature by 0.018 degrees Celsius by 2100.
For most Americans, reducing carbon emissions is a sort of gauzy, feel-good aspiration. Reducing carbon is all fine and dandy until you realize your electric bill may go up 30 percent or more, food and water may become costlier, and jobs may be lost, all for a projected amount of planetary cooling that is well within the wide margins of error of climate models. Not to mention that these climate models have not even remotely tracked with real-world observations.
Further, there’s that nagging issue that carbon dioxide isn’t even a toxic pollutant and therefore ought not to concern the EPA. Rather, carbon dioxide is a plant fertilizer that we all aim to exhale for as long as we can on this blue-green orb we call home.
Need Jobs, Navajo? Tough
In 2008, ten Democratic senators opposed cap-and-trade, with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) noting it would impose “undue hardship on our states, key industrial sectors, and consumers.” What was true for a proposed law is still true for a regulation that does the same thing.
Case in point, the EPA’s CPP, if enacted, will wreak havoc in Arizona and the Navajo Nation, at 27,413 square miles an area larger than West Virginia sprawling across three states with a population of 174,000 people (another 158,000 claim Navajo ancestry, but live elsewhere), many suffering from lack of jobs and poverty as well as no running water or electricity.
The Navajo Nation is home to two large, coal-fired power plants. The Navajo Generating Station in northern Arizona near the town of Page, Glen Canyon Dam, and Lake Powell, saw its first of three units open in 1974. Ironically, this generating station owes its construction to environmental opposition to additional hydroelectric dams on the Colorado River downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and upriver from the Grand Canyon.
Environmentalists suggested that a nuclear power plant be built in place of the dams! The Navajo Generating Station was built instead, fueled by nearby sources of clean coal. The plant employs about 500 people, 80 percent of whom are Navajo.