Mankind has lived through momentous changes since ancient times, but one thing has not changed all that much: Governments still try to order their subjects around at the whim of the ruler. The EPA has just provided the latest case in point.
The federal agency on Monday published proposed regulations to order a sharp reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide from power plants. This is aimed mostly at coal-fired generating stations. Nationwide the reduction in the power sector’s CO2 emissions is supposed to be 30 percent below the level of 2005 in the next 15 years.
The Associated Press reports that each state was given its own target by which it “must” reduce emissions. Oregon’s is 48 percent. Forty-eight percent? How did they come up with that? Why not 49 or 47, or a round 50 percent? And considering that the calculation of gaseous emissions is necessarily an imprecise art, why zero in on specific percentages?
Why? Because we’re talking about regulators here, regulators issuing edicts. (There’s a public comment period, but that is window dressing. No one doubts that public comment will be orchestrated or disregarded and that the edict will take effect as issued.)
The Clean Air Act as passed by Congress never intended such an action. But the law authorized the EPA to make rules to carry it out, and the law itself is sufficiently vague for the EPA to do what it wants. (Especially since the Supreme Court in a split decision ruled that carbon dioxide is a form of pollution that the EPA can regulate.)
When Caesar Augustus deemed it necessary that the Roman Empire have a census, he ordered it done, as the New Testament reports. Our current ruler is persuaded that CO2 is warming the planet slightly, which he thinks is bad and he wants to stop it. So he orders power stations to burn less coal.
This is an imperious act by someone who claims to be upset by the disparity between the rich and everyone else. This kind of edict will hurt the people as a whole — by raising the cost of living and killing traditional jobs in mining and manufacturing — while likely making the elite richer still.
For what the emperors did in ancient Rome, citizens spread through the empire bore no responsibility because they had no voice in who ruled them. Americans in 2014 are not as blameless. A majority of them voted for their ruler, twice. (hh)