Friday, April 27, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Court's boost to clean-air effort

The U.S. Supreme Court correctly affirmed the crackdown on greenhouse gas emissions with this week's ruling that is good for public health, energy policy and the nation's natural resources. The decision further establishes the federal government's authority to address the harmful impacts of climate change with sensible regulations. And it offers another reason why Congress, the states and private industry should get serious about addressing climate change on a national scale.

The 7-2 opinion came in a case that questioned the Environmental Protection Agency's latitude in enforcing rules requiring clean-air permits. The court ruled that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gas emissions from conventional, big polluters — such as power plants and oil refineries — that already are required to get permits. The ruling was another victory in the effort to limit emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas emission, which accounts for about 82 percent of all greenhouse releases. And it marks another important step as the Obama administration looks to significantly reduce emissions by 2030.

The court dealt a blow to the EPA in part of the case, ruling 5-4 that the agency had overstepped by rewriting standards that had the effect of exempting smaller polluters from the regulations. Though the agency was looking out for small business, the move clearly pre-empted the authority of Congress. And the court could have left a regulatory framework in place that subjected millions of mom-and-pops and other small businesses to an unnecessarily burdensome process. The justices effectively balanced the scales by limiting carbon restrictions to those already subject to permits for conventional pollution. But it sent a clear warning shot as the agency looks to enforce a broad clean-air regimen without clear direction from Congress.

Monday's decision is the latest in string of high court victories that clarifies the EPA's authority to regulate air pollution. That will be a key tool as the nation moves forward, and the legal cover it provides stands in sharp contrast to the credibility of skeptics who deny the science behind global change. The court ruling comes as a new report embraced by a bipartisan alliance of statesmen who served in Washington for years warns of the urgent need to act.

Still, the court has recognized the lack of clear congressional direction for the cleanup effort — the reason President Barack Obama has decided to move on his own through executive action. The cleanest approach remains a straightforward national tax on carbon as part of a congressionally approved strategy to wean America off the dirtiest fuels, spark investment in clean energy production and reduce consumption.

Monday's ruling buys some time, shores up the administration's efforts and offers some certainty to the private sector in the absence of any overarching federal plan. But it remains another element of the piecemeal approach to this country's 21st century energy policy when Congress should provide a more comprehensive plan.

Comments

Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18