Special Interests, Aggression, Power, and the State

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Whichever side of the anthropogenic climate change debate you stand on, you can still recoil at the disgusting aggression that is on display in this article about the court ruling to block a power plant expansion.

“Where do you think that money is going to go? It’s going to go to wind. It’s going to go to solar. It’s going to go to something that’s going to get built,” [Sierra Club lawyer, David Bookbinder] said. “This is incredibly good for green energy.”

“[this gives] us everything we wanted,” Bookbinder said. “This plant is dead and every other one is going to have to sit around.”

There is no acknowledgement that this may be bad for many, many people, not just the power plant owners. Also no acknowledgement that having power plants just sit around is wasteful in and of itself. All Americans rely on electricity, to the point that power outages cause enormous hardships. If money is not already going to green energy, that is because it is too costly. These costs get passed onto consumers, rich or poor, adding undue burden to the lives of Bookbinder’s fellow citizens. The blogger at Wired acknowledges this fundamental law of economics, although they see state intervention as a way to “level the playing field”:

The stricter the EPA limits on carbon dioxide, the more money coal plant operators will have to throw at technologies to reduce their CO2 emissions. That will eventually make coal power more expensive, which climate-change action advocates hope will make solar, wind, nuclear, and other low-carbon technologies more competitive.

So where does the EPA stand on this? Well, it was a slap on the wrist, so some egos may be hurt, but it is pointed out that the ruling “will ultimately give the [EPA] wider powers.”

Who wins? Environmental organizations who would rather spend their money on coercion than actively buying land and personally protecting the environment in an aggression-free manner. The EPA wins (there was no way for it to really lose, of course). The energy industry – both green and not green – as they will certainly use political muscle to get regulations passed that further their interests.

Who loses? Everyone.

Update: A reader points out that the current “dirty energy” industry is not operating in a free market, so the relative costs of green vs dirty energy that would occur without subsidies, regulations, etc… are unknown. I couldn’t agree more.

3:50 pm on November 14, 2008