The never-enacted Obama Clean Power Plan was scuttled by the Supreme Court in 2016 and its defense later abandoned by the Trump administration. Though it is fashionable to claim that means Republicans hate climate science, the reality is it was an expensive mandate without a problem to solve.

By 2017, before the Clean Power Plan was even scheduled to take effect had the Supreme Court not gutted it, the free market had already reduced energy emissions below what the regulation would have required in 2025. That was thanks to natural gas replacing coal, which had spiked in use when the Clinton administration put a knife in the heart of nuclear energy and which resulted in a surge in U.S. CO2 emissions due to more coal plants.

But government controls 50 percent of basic science funding and that mean science is now politics, which means science is sometimes an actor in political theater, like when 22 states sue the federal government over what the federal government chooses not to do, the exact opposite of why lawsuits usually arise. They say EPA must impose caps on coal emissions, even though energy emissions have already dropped, and that it must not enforce the Affordable Clean Energy rule. If that is confusing already it gets even stranger. It is to energy policy like the Obama administration gutting Bush's No Child Left Behind and replacing it with Common Core in education - it leaves decision-making up to states on how to achieve the results.


And the states suing hate having it be up to them.

Rather than mandating caps and requiring wonky solar and wind, the Affordable Clean Energy rule advocates technology to make existing plans more efficient, but rather than a centralized authority approach there is a menu of choices available to reach that goal, and what combination they use is up to states.

That sounds like a good thing, much better than a one-size-fits-all approach, but the states suing are arguing that they should not have such power within their own states, they want EPA to mandate a Draconian solution. Their reason is simply political; if politicians in states come up with regulations that are unpopular with voters, they are at risk, but if appointed EPA officials and federal union employees do it, state politicians can claim they had no ability to fight it.

Trial lawyer groups like Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund are all on board with the lawsuit, because they benefit the most when centralized authority can be reached with lobbyists.

The days when EPA republished Sierra Club talking points about Keystone XL, making them officially from the Obama administration, while NRDC drafted the blueprint for its ruling on coal power plants are clearly long gone. And they don't like it.