Here's an issue on which the Libertarians won't be able to help us with a nominee for attorney general: South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley threw us in with eleven other yahoo states suing to stop the federal government from making coal-fired power plants less dirty. The Environmental Protection Agency wants to use the really successful Clean Air Act to reduce carbon pollution.
AG Jackley is wasting his vital law enforcement resources by chasing the "War on Coal!" bogeyman for his partisan pals. Jonathan Chait dissects the Republican rationale behind the lawsuit and finds it lacking:
- Republicans claim the new EPA regs will increase electric bills by 10% a year, but that claim is based on analysis of federal actions well beyond the EPA coal proposal and ignores the savings from conservation and reduced health costs.
- The Heritage Foundation is saying the EPA's proposal would kill 600,000 jobs and $2 trillion in GDP. However, Chait notes that Heritage modeled a complete phase-out of coal, not the EPA's actual plan, under which we would keep using coal, but more efficiently, reducing coal use by 30%.
- Jackley's fellow Republicans seem to think that the U.S. has no obligation to reduce carbon pollution as long as China, India, or anyone else is producing carbon pollution. Chait says that's morally bonkers:
I have seen no morally cogent explanation as to why the entire burden of sparing the world from runaway global warming should fall on the countries that have contributed the least to its existence. Developing countries have already made the significant concession that they will not be allowed to follow the cheap dirty-energy developmental path used by the West.
...Given that, as noted above, people in developing countries are giving up a chance to use a proportionate share of the world’s historic carbon budget, minimal reciprocity dictates that the United States make some contribution. The Obama administration expects the American people to sacrifice in order to secure the agreement of people in other countries to sacrifice. That’s how collective action works [Jonathan Chait, "Republican Climate Policy Keeps Getting Less Intelligent," New York Magazine, 2014.08.05].
Attorney General Marty Jackley is wasting South Dakota's time and good name on this irresponsible pro-pollution lawsuit when he could be prosecuting more important cases. But oops! We said coal, so AG Jackley has to swing into action on behalf of big, dirty business. And we said collective action, so we can't count on South Dakota Libertarians to bring that up as another reason to replace our misguided attorney general.