...Justice Scalia, and one of the last decisions he made. From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):
Monday, February 15, 2016 –
Justice Antonin Scalia
As you may know,
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away suddenly over the weekend.
Justice Scalia was a clever, principled, incisive jurist and, by all accounts,
was a great man. I join countless Americans in offering my condolences and
prayers to his wife, family, and loved ones.
I have always thought
Justice Scalia’s opinions were among the best. His voice on the Supreme Court
will be greatly missed.
One of Justice Scalia’s final decisions was
slated to be the subject of this week’s column. As you will see below, it is
significant, particularly to Appalachia and other coal-producing
A Supreme Rejection of the So-Called Clean Power
In previous columns, I have written numerous times about
the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. As you may recall, as part of this
plan, states must develop and implement a strategy to reduce their carbon
footprint. Most agree this means states will have to reduce the amount of
energy generated in their state by coal.
The Obama Administration has
been working to finalize its Clean Power Plan despite lawsuits arguing that the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is acting outside its authority in seeking
to regulate existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air
Act because the EPA already regulates them under Section
Importantly, prior interpretation by both EPA and the courts would
prohibit such dual regulation.
Last week, in what will be among the final
majority rulings for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court granted
a stay in the Chamber of Commerce v. EPA case, blocking the Clean Power Plan
until legal action is completed.
This is a welcome development for me and
Regular readers of this column may recall that I joined
Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Rep. Sanford Bishop
(D-GA), and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) in introducing the Ratepayer
Protection Act (H.R. 2042), which, among other things, would allow for
completion of judicial review of any final rule in the Clean Power Plan before
states are required to comply with its implementation.
In my opinion,
delaying the legal question until after the rule is final would only serve to
close down coal mines, coal-powered power plants, and electric generation units,
costing many coal miners in the Ninth District their jobs and causing electric
rates to be higher than they otherwise would have been. Accordingly, I have
long believed the courts must have their say on the legality of the Clean Power
Plan before states are required to spend a significant amount of money and
resources on its implementation.
Perhaps, as has been speculated in the
press, the Supreme Court learned a lesson from their recent decision on the
EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) rule, which was intended to limit mercury
emissions from power plants.
In June of last year, the Supreme Court
ruled the EPA had inappropriately ignored the costs of the MATS rules. But
regrettably, this decision came down late enough that two coal-powered
Electrical Generating Units in the Ninth District alone had closed down less
than 60 days before the Justices ruled the EPA did not have authority to issue
the MATS rule as written.
In powerful testimony regarding the Clean Power
Plan before me and my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Harvard
Law School Professor Laurence Tribe said, “EPA is attempting an unconstitutional
trifecta: usurping the prerogatives of the States, Congress, and the Federal
Courts – all at once. Much is up for grabs in this complex area. But burning
the Constitution of the United States – about which I care deeply – cannot be
part of our national energy policy…”
I agree, and commend those leading
the charge in the courts against the Clean Power Plan.
While last week’s
ruling is a ray of light suggesting that the Justices are skeptical of the Clean
Power Plan’s legality, it does not mean we are out of the woods. The fight
against this plan will continue, as will our ongoing efforts to advance policies
increasing access to affordable, reliable energy and helping keep and grow jobs
for hardworking Americans.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments,
feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405
or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email,
please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is
the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently
taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.