By Veronica Carter
While the nation waits to see if the Clean Power Plan will survive court challenges, wildlife advocates say there's no reason for states not to start complying with what it's trying to do.
The U.S. Supreme Court put the brakes on the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to cut carbon emissions, so states are, at least temporarily, spared from having to spell out how they'll do that. Jim Murphy, senior counsel at the National Wildlife Federation, said that states such as Indiana need to do it anyway, as critical steps toward protecting air, water and animal species.
"Everything states do to reduce their emissions right now, and every step they take, will be helpful," he said, "regardless of what happens in the legal process."
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has called the Supreme Court's stay a win, saying Hoosiers know coal is about jobs and low-cost energy. Indiana is one of the states that filed the lawsuit against the Clean Power Plan.
Without a move away from carbon-based fuels, Murphy said, wildlife won't be as plentiful or as diverse in the future as it is today.
"We're talking about extinction rates of about a third to half of all species by the end of this century," he said. "We're seeing habitat shifts that a lot of species can't keep up with. We're seeing wildfires, droughts, floods. It puts a lot of stress on species."
Murphy said some states already have started to recognize the threat to the planet and are embracing renewable energy. He is convinced, one way or another, that the coal industry is a thing of the past.
"Coal is going away, whether the Clean Power Plan comes into place or not. It's an economic reality," he said. "Those states would be very wise to start to take advantage of the opportunities in renewables."
Murphy called the EPA's effort an evolutionary plan, not a revolutionary one, and pointed out that it allows each state to decide how to meet its pollution clean-up goals.