Supreme Court’s EPA ruling all but ensures the US won’t be competitive with China or Europe

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled to effectively bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon pollution emitted by power plants, a decision that dims prospects of quick action on climate change in the world’s largest economy.

As if that wasn’t depressing enough, the move also kneecaps American competitiveness at a time when the world is lurching toward an energy transition destined to relegate fossil fuels to history’s dustbin.

The U.S. doesn’t have anything that resembles a rational national energy policy, partly a result of its federal structure and polarized politics. Rather, it has a hodgepodge of policy carrots and sticks that have been influenced by myriad actors and woven into a complex web of regulations and incentives overseen by a range of states and regulatory agencies.

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The ill-fated Clean Power Plan and whatever succeeded it could have formed the basis of a policy that would have put the U.S. on competitive footing with other countries that are racing toward an electrified future. With the Supreme Court decision, that possibility is gone.

As a result, the U.S. has fallen behind other countries in many key sectors that factor heavily into the transition away from fossil fuels, which promises to be a new industrial revolution. We still have one shot at turning things around, but it’s a long one.