A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Another edict from our ruler

Written June 2nd, 2014 by Hasso Hering
It doesn't look like an imperial symbol, does it?

It doesn’t look like an imperial symbol, does it?

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)

Posted in: Commentary

One response to “Another edict from our ruler”

  1. Bob Woods says:

    Ok Hasso: “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?”

    Here is what the Oregonian said today in their story: “Yet PGE’s Boardman power plant accounts for 40 to 60 percent of the energy sector’s carbon output in the state, depending on the year, and will close in 2020.”

    That’s why. See the goal is one that’s already being planned to be met. So the hit to Oregon is minimal. That’s probably because Oregon has already moved aggressively to cut carbon emissions by fostering renewable energy production, and continues to work in that direction. The EPA number works to make sure that planned closure stays on track.

    Oh yeah, what about “..gaseous emissions is necessarily an imprecise art..” It’s not an art. It’s a measurement of output that has been studied at least since I participated in some of those studies in college in the early 1970’s. You take samples of emissions directly from smokestacks where you can, and downwind where you can’t and measure the constituent parts directly. We used gas chromatographs to look at volatile chemical constituents to mostly see the various kinds of carbon compounds that were contained in emissions.

    “Our current ruler..”. Please, take a deep breath. Obama with powers like Caesar Augustus? Poor analogy.

    What the EPA did was used regulatory authority from the 70’s , proposed by Richard M. Nixon, Republican, who supported the Clean Air Act and created the EPA. Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and most republicans supported clean air legislation, until the early part of this century when the search for political power trumped common sense consensus.

    Add the fact that the US Supreme Court issued the ruling to clarify that CO2 emission regulations were covered, and what you have is the function of a law passed in the 1970’s, with broad support over the decades, That is not a new “power usurping” action by the president. Emissions control has been going on for 40+ years.


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