Environmental wackos put critters ahead of people
Remember the donkey and cart clocking the bridge on the way to Salerno in the movie Patton? The environmental wackos would rather see our troops get killed than see Gen. Patton shoot the donkey in the head and have min and his cart thrown over the side of the bridge so the troops could pass. That is basically what the green lobby is arguing in this case.
How many plankton can fit on the head of a pin? And how much are they worth? In an environmental case argued this month, the Supreme Court was asked to consider whether any cost is too high for limiting damage to the environment. How the Justices decide will have important consequences for energy efficiency and the future cost of electricity.
Entergy Corporation v. Riverkeeper deals with the interpretation of a provision of the Clean Water Act. Under the Act, power plants are required to use the best technology available for reducing their impact on the environment. It's up to the EPA to measure the cost of technological upgrades against their marginal benefits to the environment.
That, at least, has been the operating procedure for decades, whereby the EPA could decide against requiring fixes to power plants and manufacturing facilities when the cost of the new system was "wholly disproportionate to the benefits." During oral argument, Justice David Souter asked, "Are a thousand plankton worth a million dollars? I don't know."
In Entergy, a green lobby named Riverkeeper is seeking to make power plants go beyond what was judged necessary by the EPA's cost-benefit analysis. According to Riverkeeper's lawyer, Richard Lazarus, "The EPA has no authority in any circumstance to decide that fish aren't worth a certain amount of cost." In other words, while EPA may consider whether the industry is able to bear the costs, it should not weigh those costs against harm to the environment.