tv Inside Story Al Jazeera February 12, 2016 1:30am-2:01am EST
>> i respect him as a reporter and i love him as a brother. >> one mississippi journalist seeking justice for civil rights cases gone cold. >> it's not just about prosecution, it's about remembering. detailing of history. >> our special report. only on al jazeera america. new hamp sheerp primary news, you might have missed this. the obama stopped the issue on power plants. there is a suit for more than two dozen states and the power industry pushing back on the obama plan and in a five four vote the high court plunked a question mark on the future of are paris climate
accords. it's the "inside story". welcome to inside story. the president committed the u.s. to the negotiated emissions reduction goals enshrined in the agreements coming out of the global climate conference in paris last year. a lot of the american obligations were contained in an obama administration policy called the clean power plan. when the administration announced the plan the electric power industry and 29 states ran into action starting a legal challenge saying the president had over stepped his authority. many of the current nine justices were members of the court when a majority opinion cleared the way for federal government regulation of carbon dioxide, one of the gasses produced as a
bi product of burning fossil fuels. to be clear, what the court has done is not a ruling in the matter. it is freezing the game in place until the case brought by the states can make its way up the federal appellate alert, likely land-- ladder, likely landing in the supreme court. it can be unravelled the consensus reached there which depends on a core idea in diplomacy. i will do a hard thing if i can be sure you're going to do a hard thing too. the u.s. was going to compel power plants to meet target emissions by target dates. we may be well into the next presidential administration before we know for sure if the federal government can follow through or depending on who the next president is, even wants to. joining me now the director of
regulatory policy and senior attorney at the environmental defense fund jan red mondayed and executive director of environment america. is this unusual at this stage of the game for the supremes to this? >> it is. i think the supreme court ruling took all of us by supplies. it is unprecedented for the supreme court to step in with the stay in a regulatory matter before a lower court has had a chance to review it on the merits. however, as you pointed out, it is very important to keep in mind that the supreme court's ruling is not a judgment on the merits, and when the important legal issues surrounding the clean power plant go back to the supreme court on appeal, aas we think they will, the context will be different. we believe that the justices will recognise that there is a very strong legal and technical record under lying the clean
power plan and it will be upheld to be clear, this is not something with some hayesy indeterminate date when it might-- hazy - when it will get into court >> that's right. the plan is in court now. in june it will be tried. i think the stay is unprecedented and it is really surprising nature of the stay itself. there are three things that the opponents had to prove in order to get this stay. one was that the underlying merits, they had a strong case about the underlying merits of the court case, that the opponents of the clean power plan were suffering harm, immediate harm, and that's a state to do no harm to the public interest. there is immediate harm for the those of us around the world who are suffering the impact of climate change now. the american public health association has said that an unnecessary halt to the clean power plan exacerbates the associated health impacts of
climate change. the idea that the opponents are suffering are harm in the near term i think is pretty spurious. the e.p.a.-- i don't know about spurious. if they're being asked to make significant reductions in a predictable amount of time and these targets are ambitious and sizeable, which would mean retro-fitting reengineering, changing the fuel mix, a lot of things. if you're going to embark on the kind of investment and retooling that's necessary to make that it? >> i think there are two pieces the e.p.a. has done that reduce that harm. again, this is new term harm. one is that e.p.a. intentionally built a plan that is flexible. it is tailored to every state, to their own circumstances, and builds in large part on efforts
that were underway already. that is one piece. the second piece is the timeline for the implementation of the plan itself. states had a year to come up with their plan, they could extend that to two years. then they didn't have to take action until 2022. the idea that there is harm in the near term, i think, doesn't weigh out when you look at how the plan was designed and the timeline in which it was going it be rolled out given the way that ruling came down, is it fair to assume that now the game is stuck, that obama is not going to be president when this finally all plays out? >> obama may not be president, but this issue is far from stuck, right. there is action happening in states all across the country. already states are doing what they can to make their energy systems as efficient as possible, because the cheapest, cleanest, mega tonne is the one we don't use at all. we're going to clean energy all over the place. in fact, in 2015--
we're doing it without regulatory burden, without being forced to do it by executive action >> my point exactly. it is in the interest of not only the industries that are having to make the change in utilities, but it is certainly in the interest of the people and the plant to be taking this action and that's why renewables are doing well right now. in part 60% of all the new energy capacity put up in 2015 was from the wind and the son. we have the science with us, the law with us, we have the public with us. there's no reason for states not to be moving forward with or without the law being in place right now how many bites at the apple? right now this is at the first appellate level >> yes. it is heard on annex pe dieted basis on the dc circuit which is where it started. according to that schedule, briefing will be by mid april
and all argument held on june 2. we think our schedule because it is so expedited allows for a prompt decision and a prompter by the supreme court if it comes to that the supreme court is the next level after the dcc? >> that's right. actually, because of this expedited review process, it is very possible for the clean power plan to go into effect on time because the emission reductions don't take effect until 2022 and phased in gradual the requests for review by the supreme court, being granted cert, get circulated. obama leaves in january 2017. it wouldn't be unheard of for him to be gone when this all finally gets heard, ruled upon and acted upon
>> it's difficult to speculate on the timing, but we do know that the dc circuit's review, which will occur on a very fast basis, and given the high profile of this case and the importance of the issues, it is reasonable to expect a prompt resolution of the issues. maybe not within this administration but early in the next one and another time for the plan to be implemented on schedule the court and coal. stay with us. we will talk more about the france climate accords and items the inside story. >> this is al jazeera america live from new york. >> at 7:00 - "news roundup". tony harris gives you a fast-paced recap of the day's events. >> this is the first line of defense. >> we have an exclusive story tonight. >> then at 8:00 - john seigenthaler brings you the top stories from across america. >> the question is, will these dams hold? >> and at 9:00 - >> i'm ali velshi, on target tonight... >> ali velshi on target.
you're watching inside story. maybe a little lost in all the campaign news was the decision by the supreme court to block enactment of the president's clean power plan putting the targets in place for power plants across the country that would have taken the country a long way toward meeting the goals set out at the paris climate conference last december. does the unusual court decision in advance of lower federal appeals court rulings on the matter leave the paris aaccord on climate dead in the water or perhaps just treading water until it is better understood what the u.s. can and can't do to reduce emissions.
my guests are with me here in washington. can the u.s. meet its promised plan? >> i think it will be hard for the u.s. to do that. the timeframe is longer just this year. there are a number of executive orders that have been issued that help us in that process. there are fuel centers that help. the clean power plan is the core of that promise, but not the only thing we have in place. there will be new climate law. moving forward i think that's inevitable given the impacts that our communities are feeling and there will be new policy given that many are suffering the negative impacts of dirty coal, oil, gas. i think this is not our last chance. i think the international community is watching. it tells me that the movement by the states themselves is really critical and important. i think it should be a comforting sa signal to those of
our allies looking from other parts of the world that the u.s. is moving forward while the stay is in place and the court decision is being made. that's critical for all to know i'm glad people are optimistic like you. i don't know if you are, but when i hear about the possibilities for legislation, for moving ahead, is there anything when you look at the current u.s. congress that gives you a sign that they are willing to increase environmental regulations, set out climate targets, set out emissions targets, set out energy use targets, anything, any evidence any where? >> the current u.s. congress has not been full of friends to climate action. that said, we have defeated time and time again efforts to roll back this clean power plan and other key pieces of the obama administration climate strategy. there is a debate going on in
the senate about energy policy and some of the pieces of that debate would move us forward, but as janet set, so much of the action here is happening in cities, it is happening in states, it is happening in industry across the country right now. 28 states and here in dc we have a renewable standard that requires more clean energy. seven states have caps which require emission reductions. i live in new england and nine states have cut pollution from power plants because of the initiative. so as long as congress doesn't get in our way, what we is good u.s. ingenuity, which we have. what we need is more commitment by all of us to keep pressure on the courts and congress and we need to make sure that as the science keeps becoming clearer
and clearer about climate action so is the public and our elected officials we're reminded that these paris agreements roll out over a long period of time. in t he in years isn't there important work to be done to show china that the u.s. is serious, show india as well and not only in a diplomatic and friendly way, but in order to trigger response on their part in order to keep them on track as well. >> it certainly is important to continue to take action. actually, i agree with the comments of my fellow panelists. there is promising activity going on. even in the plan we've already seen some states and power companies commit to developing plans for compliance because they recognise there is a strong case to be made for the plan, that the court process has a way to go and they want to be in a
position to comply when it is upheld. also that one step that congress did take that will have a transformative impact in the next few years is to extend the tax credits for renewable energy. that will stimulate, together with all the other market forces that are causing those to be increasingly cheap, stimulate 100 gig awatt of construction that's getting cheaper, but more expensive to burn coal because part of the argument has been it is cheaper than other fuel sources >> i would others to step in, but there is no doubt that coal is facing a tough market. the prices have plumented over the last few years. these are trends that challenge plans. >> i will say i feel obligated to jump in here. it is true that these tax credits have been extended for
five years, we have seen a trade-off with the obama administration. we have seen a lift of the oil export ban. we have opened markets for exporting i will. so there is a bit of a schizophrenic reality. people are looking at that. i want to be sure we're not letting the obama administration off the hook either. congress is acting in a way that is totally out of line with reality. the administration is making efforts but not enough. i think that points to the point that the action at the city and the state level is incredibly important. the support that organizations, that citizens movements are bringing to taking action at that level, the demands that are being made of state houses and city councils to pass resolutions that move clean energy, that are looking at the public health impact of climate change are important.
i wouldn't want to leave this up to the industry, but i think that by looking at that side of things-- coal, the petitioners in this case are trying to save coal as a sustainable. >> they're dinosaurs in this case. they're kind of revealing themselves that way or maybe fortunately because we can all see it, and the future is absolutely in renewables. we're seeing that play out both in the implementation and in the market. i think the more that we see that reality the more we can push our entire economy. >> it will maintain this momentum did the supreme court decision just remind voters of the appointment power of the president. as the parties head into a hotly contested campaign season, the court and coal. it's inside story.
welcome back to inside story. in blocking the obama administration from placing new emissions restrictions on power plants did the supreme court insert itself in an unusual way into a political conversation during a political year. the court split along family ideological lines, conservative and liberal.
the two haven't talked about climate change or the appointment power of the president. is a development like this one going to change that at least for now. my guests are still with me. you wear a political hat along with the the policy one. might this with the help of groups like yours get people thinking about the supreme court in a way you really haven't far? >> i hope it does get people thinking about the supreme court in the election and i hope this really does bring climate change into the election as well. i mean right now in this country 96% of people live in countys that have already been devastated by extreme weather events and scientists say it's more likely to happen, more devastating events if we don't deal with the climate problem. americans are responding. 75% of people care about the clean power plan. ironic even in the states that
have sued, a poll says in those states 61% of people still support the clean power plan. if we take all that public support and match it with the science and bring this to the presidential election that will be a great outcome. people need to know there are consequences to elections is part of the game groups like yours, like edf, injecting it in there, using this as a lesson and saying see, this is what appointment power means, this is what a supreme court majority means, this is what climate change legislation is all about. >> i'm an expert in the legal issues and not the politics. certainly climate change is an important issue and should be rightfully raised in this coming election. but i think for now we're focused on making the best possible legal case along with a broad and diverse coalition of states and industry interests that support the clean power plan
if you could bear it, you could sit through hour after hour of candidates' debates. nobody has mentioned it in either party >> i think that people are really focused on the issues right now that are the bread appeared butter issues, the kitchen table issues and that's what really the electorate responds to. i think we're seeing people talk about issues that get responses in the polls. so you're right, i think it's an important issue. i think it was laid out why we should be talking about it. i really think about those communities who don't get listened to often by either candidate, by any candidate, and those are the people who are most impacted by the clean power plan. both on the side of the folks who are impacted by many of the solutions of the clean power plan and those who are impacted by the dirty industries that the plan is looking to curtail and address. i think that the issue of who
would be in charge of bringing people to the bench will decide these kind of cases in the next presidency hasn't been on the radar because people are worried about the issues that impact them on a daily basis right now. i think one of the critical pieces of this conversation is to bring in those debates, where is the environmental issue where we can have a broader decision along with those real impacts are impact in places like western virginia, along the cold belt, down state areas where even their depressed and suboptimal economies depend heavily on the continued extraction of gold >> let's look at a place like kentucky where there are efforts to move the economy off coal. they recognise that the air of coal is over. we're seeing a shift to other forms of energy, not just because of the price. the prices are certainly a key
factor, but it is harder to get our hands on that coal in any way that is environmentally responsible, that doesn't affect people, have their health affected. there are communities saying how do they make a transition. they know they have to make a transition away from coal, to solar and wind and other economic drivers and how they do so, so their communities aren't left behind it's challenging, even exciting if you're 18. if you're 48 it is a little frightening as well >> not as true as it used to be. a new study came out saying that the solar jobs growing in this country are growing at a bigger place than anything happening in coal. the economics of solar are getting better and better all the time, in part because of the tax credits but also because of the economies of scale. whether it's the economy,
whether it is jobs or whether it is people's health dealing with the carbon crisis, getting the clean power plan back on track is a huge priority for many, many americans, no matter where in the country, what party, what economic bracket you're in or what age you are. we all clean air and clean water in special places and this is the way to get it we only have about a minute left. the basis of the argument, now that the supreme court has long said the executive branch can regulate co2, what's the counter argument? what do you go into court and say. you already said we could do this >> it's an overreach of the e.p.a.'s mandate to regulate greenhouse gasses as an air pollutant under the clean air act. business opponents, we have to look at who they are. it's the coal industry, states where the coal, oil and gas is strong ares. they're saying that this hurts communities and businesses.
that's why they're saying there are rules that are unreasonable. it is going to harm the xhishg economy. we know it's not true-- economic community. it would help protect communities who are dealing with impacts of climate change i want to thank you my guest guests. that's the inside story. we will see you next time i'm ray goodnight.
>> moving with urgency. a task force in syria to meet hours after a world powers agree on a pause in fighting within a week. welcome to al jazeera. also on the program hillary clinton takes on democratic rival bernie sanders in their first one-on-one debate since clinton lost the new hampshire primary. farmers in greece threaten to ride all the way to the parliament. we will tell you what