President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan was not easy to come by and should not be taken lightly.
It required fraud and a betrayal of democratic principles, and, if it had been left alone by the courts, would be out there right now costing thousands of jobs, increasing electricity costs, strengthening authoritarian governance and accomplishing nothing.
Of course, in alliance with other regulatory outrages, it has already done enormous damage that will hang on despite the recent pledge of President Donald Trump to review and tame it. That could take years, given what's involved in untangling governmental messes these days, and the true believers are already having at him with a verbal vehemence that happens to make very little sense.
Their primary thesis is that global warming will destroy us if we don't heed Obama's interventionist enthusiasms, and that's just bosh. We learned as much from Gina McCarthy, chief of the Environmental Protection Agency when she testified in 2015 before the House Science Committee. She is, of course, a firm devotee of every regulatory scheme the EPA has ever devised and seemingly convinced the agency is heaven's gift to humanity.
At that time, however, she had no good answer when asked if it were true that the Clean Power Plan by itself would reduce warming by no more than a tiny, itsy-bitsy, unnoticeable one one-hundredth of a degree Celsius.
Well, er, uh, listen, she said, the plan is going to inspire others to act similarly and won't that be grand? She could not dispute the tattletale number because the EPA itself had done the research.
It was an instance when the agency was acting honestly, something it avoided in assembling the Clean Power Plan. It said the plan was justified by the Clean Air Act that actually prohibits it. That's not the judgment of some amateur but of the highly respected Lawrence Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor who says the plan would unconstitutionally dictate that states change their own laws by the EPA assuming powers never granted by Congress.
What the Clean Power Plan most emphatically aims at is ending the use of coal. A steep decline is already happening because of free-market fracking that has made relatively inexpensive, less-endangering natural gas so wondrously abundant. The prescribed intervention would simply put tens of thousands out of work earlier than necessary, could reportedly cost the industry a trillion dollars and bollixes up a transition that could go much more smoothly if left in private hands.
Believe it or not, the free market - not self-supposed wizards stirring up poison in Washington - is what, in the final analysis, can best save us from warming. It gave us the fracking and can give us more renewable energy quicker than the best of ever-stumbling governmental schemes. What Trump rightly wants is reliance on all energy sources, including dramatically needed nuclear energy. Its dangers have been vastly overstated and, even though it will not happen quickly, its expansion can keep our industrial economy thriving as it emits not a hint of greenhouse gases.
Trump went wrong in leaving the Paris climate deal alone, essentially a vote for further impoverishing undeveloped countries agreeing in this pointless international contrivance to stay shy of industrialism.
Supposedly, the developed world will send them $100 billion a year by way of compensation that is really by way of more corruption as the money goes to dictator wallets if it is not otherwise wasted.
Developed countries are legally required to do absolutely nothing, and doing what they promised would pretty much amount to whistling in the wind, some critics say.
Trump, of course, cannot solve everything anyway. His predecessor made that impossible. But there remain ways he can do this planet and the American economy favors if he stands up in the right way to true believers in a questionable orthodoxy.