The Supreme Court Was Right To Block Obama's Energy Plan

| by Nik Bonopartis

Not so fast, Mr. President.

The Supreme Court took the "unprecedented" step of moving to block President Barack Obama's clean energy plan on Feb. 9. That means the Environmental Protection Agency can't institute new energy rules while 29 states and the energy industry challenge the plan in court.

The Supreme Court did the right thing.

The first problem with Obama's Clean Power Plan is that it's probably not constitutional. The president spent seven years of his time in office trying to push clean energy and immigration reform plans through Congress, but never reached a compromise with Republicans. With the end of his presidency looming, and with an eye toward his legacy, Obama decided to bypass Congress on both.

The president knows he's on shaky legal ground. In 2010, when he was still optimistic he could get Congress to compromise on his major policy visions, Obama told Univision he couldn't simply declare new immigration laws.

"I am president; I am not king,” Obama said, according to

His Grace has changed his mind, apparently.

Even people who support Obama's policies and think he's well-intentioned should take a step back and think about the implications of legislating by executive order. If Obama gets away with it, future Republican presidents will do the same thing. No president should have that much power.

Constitutional questions aside, Obama's Clean Energy Plan runs into problems with practicalities. The plan calls for states to reduce emissions from existing high-pollution power plants -- mostly coal and oil -- but doesn't offer much in the way of innovative alternatives.

Reducing emissions from coal and oil plants will reduce energy produced by those plants, and the EPA is banking on renewable sources like solar and wind power to pick up the slack.

That's great, and the goal is admirable, but it will also introduce more problems: Energy costs will rise, and without a substantial renewable energy infrastructure, it's not clear if solar and wind power can fully replace the energy lost from throttling down pollution-producing plants.

Obama is frustrated after seven years of trying to get Republicans to play ball, and that's understandable. Many of them are in the pockets of energy companies, and American lawmakers have been stubbornly resistant to changes that are absolutely necessary to pass a healthy planet on to future generations.

At the same time, no one can change energy policy overnight, and Obama's plan calls for a two-year timetable on implementation.

If Obama is serious about adding meaningful environmental change to his legacy, he should do what American politicians do best and compromise. A total victory isn't realistic in American politics.

As for technological solutions, the president doesn't need to look further than his own backyard. Lockheed Martin's famous Skunk Works lab is working on a compact fusion reactor, and the company has said it will have working prototypes within a few years.

Hopefully, this energy debate becomes a moot point in the near future with a renewable energy solution that uses water for fuel and doesn't pollute the environment. To say it will change humanity forever would be an understatement.

Maybe the president's best bet is to put his chips in that basket.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: CNN (2), EPA,, Physics-Astronomy / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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