The Washington Post reported (September 28) that Maryland is suing EPA to force a cut in power-plant emissions from “five upwind states.” Suing EPA and settling the case is an enviro-tactic that has always relied on the agency’s collusion. In this case, Maryland is going much further and double-crossing several other states.
Maryland imports most of its electricity from West Virginia and Tennessee, which use coal to generate most of the electricity they use and export to others. If those exporters send less power to the importers, that would be another problem for Maryland.
The state wants coal plants to send them power to meet all their demand, and to use more costly environmental technology to do so. But to avoid higher electric bills as a result, Maryland has adopted new extremes in devious behavior. They are flim-flamming the federal courts, a 7-state environmental coalition, the EPA and the exporting states and power plants. Here’s how:
Maryland and Delaware (two states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative [RGGI]) talked their 5 RGGI partners not to insist on a 5% reduction in carbon emissions, and to settle for 3%. That change forces the entire RGGI to reject its own wishes and accept more carbon emissions. In addition, the two importers, like their 5 “partners,” will collect millions of dollars from the sale of “pollution permits” that the exporting power plants will have to buy. Any settlement with EPA to force the exporting states to go beyond what the regulations require, will be frosting on the cake.
Who wins by a slashing the 5% goal the coalition sought? Will Maryland compensate their partners by sharing profits from the pollution permits? Will they give 2/5 of that money — or all of it — to their RGGI colleagues? Or can Maryland’s sanctimony overwhelm logic and honesty? These questions seem easy for Maryland to ignore, and the law suit does that.
John L. Rafuse
Former Defense think tank, White House, OMB, and Federal Energy Administration advisor; Unocal corporate manager. Currently an independent consultant on energy, environment, regulation, trade, international security.