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Policy changes increasing stakes for PSC membership

As the new tone in Washington puts ideology before science and pushes anti-intellectual policy preferences, it’s heartening that in the environmental debate that a majority of Louisiana’s new Public Service Commission has the temperament to try to protect the state from this, setting up a potential clash with the federal government.

Commissioners Eric Skrmetta, Jimmy Field, and Commissioner-elect Clyde Holloway are to be commended for their open-mindedness and sense of reasoned inquiry in their statements that their policy will be guided without reliance on the alarmist, unsubstantiated hypothesis of man-made climate warming around which there is no convincing proof nor scientific consensus about it (despite the assertions by a spokesman of the heavily politicized, leftist Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization that once championed a nuclear freeze that would have lost the Cold War). By contrast, it is disappointing that Commissioners Lambert Bossiere III and Foster Campbell seem unwilling to educate themselves on the debate (it is shocking for even a politician to be so ignorant as to base his beliefs on this on a media product legally declared propaganda).

However, federal government power may challenge the PSC’s current sensible consensus. Last week the Environmental Protection Agency issued a ruling saying it had the ability to regulate carbon emissions as a dangerous substance (which legally it did not have to do), inviting both a constitutional and political challenge. Regarding the latter, it pertains insofar as to what regulations do emerge which may be more radical (if possible) than present legislation Congress is set to begin debating this week, based squarely upon the man-made climate change myth. In effect, this puts more pressure on the further politicization of the issue with disastrous public policy consequences in terms of economics and liberty.

New regulation regardless of source will put strains on the state that, assuming the PSC majority’s attitude is the consensus beyond just it, would result in a policy tug-of-war on this issue between Louisiana and an increasingly radicalized federal government. Essentially, environmental policy is a matter of the federal government dictating standards to be implemented by states, and if it likes the direction they take to allow decentralization of enforcement to them. Typically, that has produced a principal-agent relationship that has focused on regulating by-products of production of presumed harmful substances (such as mileage standards, levels of emission, etc.) rather than the processes of their production (what mixture of processes can or cannot be done). It does shift the terrain of regulation to include not just state environmental regulatory agencies, but potentially entities such as the PSC.

This means that jurisprudence would hold that, should the irrational tide continue, at best institutions such as the PSC could engage in a protective rear guard action until such time sanity returns in this issue area. Which creates another reason for closer scrutiny of candidates for these jobs and careful weighing of their merits when elections for these positions come around, with an emphasis on candidates who favor objective analysis over fad.

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