Let The Free Market And Good Environmental Stewardship Thrive Together In Harmony

By Jason Isaac

Innovative pollution control technologies in the United States have helped to cut air pollution by nearly 80% over the past 50 years, with pollution now virtually indistinguishable from natural levels. But to hear absurdities being pushed by the “save the planet crowd,” one might think they’re from a different world.

And the irony is that they’re causing more harm than good.

This April, many New York City pizzeria owners may close their restaurants. New York City lawmakers think that they’re going to save the planet with a new regulation mandating a 75% cut in carbon emissions from wood-fired ovens. The prohibitive mitigation costs involved with compliance has many pizzeria owners hanging up their aprons for good.

In California, an ongoing whistleblower lawsuit alleges that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, without proper statutory authority, put the squeeze on the state’s then top oil and gas regulator to stop issuing new well-drilling permits and fired him when he objected. A contentious drilling ban had been placed in abeyance pending the outcome of a referendum this November, giving voters the opportunity to repeal it. And they just might. If it fails, the lost oil and gas revenue would cost Long Beach alone an estimated $20 million a year. As people know, canceling energy would translate into job losses and uncomfortable budget cuts.

The ban would place even more upward pressure on pump prices. Due to activist-backed state energy policies, long-suffering California motorists already pay $1.20 more than the national average for gasoline. As a core component of the Consumer Price Index, gasoline contributed to February’s 0.4% CPI increase and to the 3.2% increase in inflation of the past 12 months nationwide.

New York and California municipal officials reached peak absurdity in recent years by teaming up with trial lawyers who have weaponized lawsuits as a means to impose policies (circumventing the legislative process) and reap obscene multi-billion-dollar windfalls.

They launched suits against major energy producers, holding them responsible not just for alleged climate change damages, but for damages they alleged would be likely to occur in the future. The climate lawsuits were tossed out, but the allure of massive damage awards to backfill poor fiscal mismanagement decisions has encouraged similar lawsuits.

An Oregon County, for example, is demanding that oil producers pony up $50 billion to mitigate the impact of extreme weather that it contends was caused by climate change for which it holds the oil companies uniquely responsible. To sensible people, this is a naked shakedown. If this and other similar predatory cases were to succeed, energy would become unaffordable and perhaps unavailable, harming virtually every American in every community.

In Hawaii, Honolulu city officials are hoping to cash in on some jackpot justice from oil companies for producing the same fuel products that they use in their own official city vehicles. Ultimately, questions surrounding greenhouse gases fall under the federal Clean Air Act. Hawaii’s Supreme Court has ruled that the case may proceed. The energy companies named in the case have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to set aside that ruling. If it decides to review the ruling, the Supreme Court is likely to bar such lawsuits, hopefully ridding the nation of this plague of litigation.

If the activist class were serious about saving the planet, they would let the free market and good environmental stewardship thrive together in harmony.

Jason Isaac is CEO of the American Energy Institute and a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He previously served four terms in the Texas House of Representatives.

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