According to the Los Angeles Times today: “Every time a new coal-fired power plant is proposed anywhere in the United States, a lawyer from the Sierra Club or an allied environmental group is assigned to stop it, by any bureaucratic or legal means necessary.” And apparently they are winning. The coalition claims to have stopped 65 projects over the last three years (although industry disputes that number).
While the parties may quibble over the number of power projects halted by the litigious enviros, industry lawyers are now advising clients to budget delays into all construction plans since litigation is inevitable. Industry lawyer Russell Frye told the LAT: “It’s good for lawyers. It’s good for me. But it’s not particularly constructive to have all these symbolic gestures that may gum up the works but won’t necessarily advance what we as a society ought to be doing.”
But gumming up the system is exactly what enviros want. The LAT notes that many “members of the environmental law brigade concede that stopping new plants may not be as effective in reducing emissions as getting the oldest, dirtiest, least efficient coal plants offline.” Sierra Club’s chief climate council David Bookbinder explains why increasing emissions in the short term is acceptable to the movement: “We hope to clog up the system. It’s putting pressure on Congress to put together a comprehensive plan.”
But the enviros need not wait for Congress to act. All three remaining presidential candidates support drastic action on global warming. And current law, pursuant to the Endangered Species and Clean Air Acts, gives any president all the authority they need to unilaterally redesign the entire U.S. economy in their image. The future looks very dim for affordable in these United States.