Federalism Is the Key to Demonstrating the Disaster of Green Central Planning


Francis Menton

Central planning always fails, but the utopian visionaries implementing the plans cannot admit that they are at fault. A scapegoat must be found. As a leading example, when Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s collectivization of agriculture led to mass starvation, the official blame was placed on “saboteurs” and “wreckers.”

Our current-day analog is the centrally-planned replacement of our very large, inexpensive and highly functional energy system, mostly based on fossil fuels, with the alternatives of intermittent wind and sun-based generation, as favored by incompetent government regulators who don’t understand how these things work or how much they will cost. Prices of energy to the consumer — from electricity to gasoline — are soaring; and reliability of supply is widely threatened.

All of which brings our President forth to blame the current price and supply issues in the energy markets on anything but his own administration’s intentional efforts to suppress the functional fossil fuel energy. One day the scapegoat is Vladimir Putin; another it is “companies running gas stations,” who stand accused of price gouging.

Unfortunately, a wide swath of the electorate is only too ready to believe that the failure of central planning is correctly blamed on the saboteurs or the wreckers or the price gougers or the Rooskies or whoever, rather than on the incompetent central planners. And the central planners can generally maintain their narrative, as long as they can impose their control widely enough to keep their subjects from becoming aware of successful alternatives.

And thus the maintenance of federalism in energy policy is crucial to avoiding the disaster of green energy central planning. And it is why the recent Supreme Court decision of West Virginia v. EPA is so important in the ongoing energy battles. West Virginia v. EPA struck down a centralized federal effort to dictate the structure of the electricity generation system nationwide, on the ground that the Congress had not explicitly authorized such a sweeping exercise of authority by an executive agency.

With federalism in energy policy, we can have New York forging ahead with its “Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act,” and California doing the same with its SB 100 — both of them seeking to eliminate fossil fuels from the generation of electricity, and then to force all energy consumers to use only electricity for their supply. Will that work? If New York and California are successful, they will be a model for the rest of the country to follow. Congratulations will be in order. If they fail relative to other states — that is, if they see energy prices soar, or frequent blackouts or shortages of needed energy — then it will be obvious to all that it was the green energy that failed, and not that there were “saboteurs” or “wreckers” or “price gougers,” who after all could have attacked the other states as well.

The federal bureaucracies will do everything they can to force all the states into a federal energy straightjacket, so that the (inevitable) failures of green energy cannot be blamed on the perpetrators. In Friday’s post I took note of two new federal initiatives, post-West Virginia, to seek national suppression of fossil fuels, one by imposing “ozone” emission limitations in Texas, and the other by declining to conduct offshore leasing auctions.

Yet another such initiative was announced on Thursday July 7: a so-called “Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Framework” from the Federal Highway Administration. This one takes administrative audacity to a whole new level. Under the proposed rule, states must set declining greenhouse gas emissions targets for highway traffic that must align with the Net-Zero target as directed by the President in two Executive Orders and agreed at the international “Leaders Summit on Climate.” The federal Net Zero targets have not been enacted or authorized by Congress in any way, and exist only by virtue of a press release issued by President Biden on April 22, 2021. In other words, the administration and the FHA are thumbing their noses at the Supreme Court’s West Virginia decision.

Fortunately, the red states are not just going along with this kind of thing any more. This will be a critical battleground over the next five to ten years.

Read the full article here.

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Reply to  Joe Chang
July 13, 2022 3:33 pm

False equivalence. The timber on the right is cls, Canadian lumber standard, which is kilned and planed to a particular specification and used for particular purposes. It’s nominally 2×4, but that’s only the dimension of the pre-kilned wood. CLS has been an industry standard for almost a century, iirc.

You can still get 2×4 just fine. Just be aware that nominal sizes and finished sizes may not match up, depending on the purpose for which you’re buying.

Never trust Reddit posts. Even when they tell the truth, they only exist to harvest karma.

Reply to  archer
July 13, 2022 5:27 pm

If you are given a modern 2×4 and one from the 1940s, you can easily tell the difference. The modern one will have rounded corners, be relatively smooth, and may be spliced. The old one will have square corners and be quite rough.

In my basement there are some exposed 2x4s and they are indeed 2 inches by 4 inches. The house was built a few years after the end of WW2.

Reply to  archer
July 13, 2022 5:42 pm

Sorry, not pointing to difference in size of 2×4. Look at the tree ring widths. Some CO2 fertilization, probably some managed forestry

Reply to  Joe
July 13, 2022 6:53 pm

While it’s tempting to say that CO2 is the cause of the increased size of the tree rings, the fact is that CO2 is only one of about a dozen things that impact the growth rates of plants. We don’t even know if the two samples were grown in the same state. Perhaps one was grown in southern Louisiana where it’s warm all year round and there is plenty of water, while the other was grown on the north side of a hill in northern Maine.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  Joe Chang
July 13, 2022 4:02 pm

Back in 2010, I subdivided part of my large detached shop building to be an enclosed office. I was warned by a carpenter friend that much of the framing wood sold today warps badly as it dries. So I bought ten 2×4 studs and left them to dry in a corner of the shop just to see what would happen. After a month, eight of the ten were so badly warped they were unusable.

So I made my own 2×4 nominal studs out of 3/4″ plywood by cutting the sheets into 3-1/2″ wide strips and then gluing two strips of opposing curvature together. The resulting studs were both perfectly straight and dimensionally perfect and strong enough for a non load bearing interior wall. However, I did find that nails didn’t stay tight inside these homemade plywood studs. Coated construction screws were used instead.

July 13, 2022 2:09 pm

Josef Stalin was naive by today’s standards.

Tom Halla
July 13, 2022 2:11 pm

The question is whether Biden et al are following in the path of Andrew Jackson, or George Wallace in defying the courts.
Jackson got away with it, and removed the Cherokees. What happens when and if the Democrats lose a legislative majority is to be seen. High energy prices are seriously unpopular, so the greens would prefer to only operate in back rooms where they do not have to publicly justify their actions.

July 13, 2022 2:12 pm

But you know they will make a run at extending California laws and regs for the nation. It’s part of the master plan. Who knew Supreme Court picks could be so strategic in a “nonpartisan” position for life and liberty? I guess the master plan manipulators know that all too well.

Frank from NoVA
July 13, 2022 2:14 pm

‘Fortunately, the red states are not just going along with this kind of thing any more. This will be a critical battleground over the next five to ten years.’

I’ll take the under on five years. As MC says, the red states just ain’t going to participate in this nonsense, and the blue states aren’t going to stay blue once their voters figure out they’re being played for suckers.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
July 13, 2022 9:11 pm

I’m thinking by using the word Federalism, that most people think that it means that the federal government would be in charge, when it actually means States Rights – that each individual state would be in charge. = States rights!
That’s what Federalism means: … States Rights.

Tim Gorman
July 14, 2022 6:04 am

Shout it from the rooftops!

July 16, 2022 2:19 pm

No fight here but I have long opposed using the term “States Rights”….just has too much historic baggage and is not relevant.
I don’t think that States have “rights”….that is the people’s domain. I think what they have are Constitutional roles, authorities and responsibilities.

David Elstrom
July 13, 2022 2:25 pm

It wouldn’t hurt to check on how many of the bureaucratic despotism’s “missions” are covered by constitutional amendments extending the central government’s enumerated powers. Maybe we can get rid of far more with constitutionalism than we can with occasional SCOTUS decisions.

Reply to  David Elstrom
July 15, 2022 12:05 am

Oh come on, it only takes ten or twelve years for a truly significant case to work its way through the court system.

Rud Istvan
July 13, 2022 2:27 pm

Yes. Federalism lets New York and California serve as crash test dummies for the Green New Deal. Here in South Florida, I am glad they ‘volunteered’ and we get to watch them crash.
Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale just got brand new 2400MW each CCGT, which even allowed us to shut down six old natgas turbine summer peakers since old plants were only 2000MW each. Tore down the dirty old resid fired steam generation from early 1970s. The new plants use a smaller footprint on the same sites (basic transmission left in place) to produce both cleaner air and cheaper electricity with planned 2200MW baseload each, giving 400 MW of extra summer peak capacity. Should do for the next 40 years, since there isn’t a lot of land left down here to develop or redevelop that would require more capacity.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 13, 2022 3:51 pm

Good news.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 13, 2022 4:17 pm
Reply to  Anti-griff
July 13, 2022 7:45 pm

perhaps way off in the future, maybe

Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 13, 2022 5:02 pm

re. New York and California

Between July 2020 and July 2021, those states were among the four top losers of population.

New York (-1.58%), Illinois (-0.89%), Hawaii (-0.71%) and California (-0.66%). Losses in these states were driven by people moving away.


We also see that high tech companies are fleeing California. link

Back in the day, there was white flight. It was caused by middle class folks fleeing the high taxes of the cities for the suburbs where raising a family was easier, taxes were lower, and everyone could now afford a car and commute to work. Lots of people blame white flight on racism but I think it was more about tax policy and technology (ie. cars and highways). In Canada, with a different tax regime, the major urban centers didn’t suffer decline when their American neighbors were doing so.

If you have a lot of folks on welfare, that raises the tax rate. That causes folks to leave which lowers tax revenue and that causes the city to raise the tax rate to make up and that causes more folks to flee. That could happen to California and the slow population loss could become a stampede. Californians stampeding to Texas, Yee Haw! 🙂

Reply to  commieBob
July 16, 2022 2:55 pm

The welfare thing is like a cancer which slowly metastasizes throughout the entire organism, in this case from city -> state -> country. The organism eventually dies, not from the cancer but from apoptosis.

Michael in Dublin
July 13, 2022 2:35 pm

The central planners always get away with it when the media do not fulfil their public watchdog duty but are simply echo HMV (His Master’s Voice).

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
July 13, 2022 4:31 pm

Bingo Michael.

I have always said that the mainstream media today are largely little more than mouthpieces for the political parties and ideologies that they favor. That explains why they largely fail in educating the public in the scientific facts regarding climate change and energy production (among many other things).

What percentage of the public really understand that the scientific debate about climate today regards how much of an effect CO2 and other GHGs have on climate and not about a changing climate? How many of them understand how utterly unfeasible it is for solar panels and wind turbines to meaningfully displace fossil fuel power plants without a massive (and arguably irrational) investment in money and resources? When have they ever talked about a wind and solar feasibility study?

Orwellian thought control is vital to the public’s acceptance of Washington’s central planning efforts, especially in the areas of climate and energy. Big Brother lives.

Rick C
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
July 13, 2022 7:35 pm

No one ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
July 14, 2022 5:33 am

Prof Michael Kelly says about even achieving an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050: “I assert that a herd of unicorns will be needed to deliver this target, let alone full decarbonization.” Just imagine what a field day the media fact checkers will have with this statement.

I just love his sly humor.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
July 15, 2022 12:11 am

To your point…I think you’ll find this of interest. It goes through very specific detail of how MSM (specifically the NYT) is marching in lockstep with the progressive political agenda, and the Tech Giants are also piling on. Alternative facts are not welcome, and conveniently expunged.

Philip CM
July 13, 2022 2:37 pm

(Central planning always fails, but the utopian visionaries implementing the plans cannot admit that they are at fault.)

The idealist is safe behind their bulwark of strawmen. Their proud defenders of factless facts, systems without supporting infrastructure, and without fail something that cannot meet the needs of 99% of the people in terms of real-world production and delivery. Whatever is supposed to be the ideal, according to the idealist, the best instant replacement for that thing that took 10,000 years to perfect and is running like a charm…

…and the cowards cower behind the vociferous virtuously stupid.

Long Tall Texan
July 13, 2022 2:44 pm

The invisible hand always rises up to smote the central planners – aka communists

Reply to  Long Tall Texan
July 13, 2022 7:55 pm

The CCP and Red Army are evidence that even the totalitarians are learning how to do it better. Actually, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, The USA, and most of Europe are evidence too. The possibility that some significant part of those can be overcome is mere speculation, without substantial evidence to date.

Don Thompson
July 13, 2022 2:54 pm

Economic devastation in the EU, if Russia interrupts gas supplies, may create an awakening of awareness of the folly of wind
green and solar as energy sources. Perhaps
that will energize nuclear for electricity and
and remove barriers to finding gas, including
fracking. Intermittency of wind and solar will
lead to backlash in Oz, California, and Texas; but that may be slower. Hopefully, harsh reality
will overcome the plans of the Davos crowd
before starvation & economic depression strikes.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Don Thompson
July 14, 2022 4:11 am

The Texas power grid is going to be strained over the next couple of weeks. Texas authorities are already asking customers to reduce their electricity use.

It’s only going to get hotter, though.

Texas has so many windmills in the mix that they are right on the edge of blackouts.

How could anyone reasonably advocate for adding more windmills to the Texas grid? The only way to safely do that would be if an equal amount of conventional electricity generation were added along with additonal windmills sufficient to back up the windmills when the wind isn’t blowing.

If Texas were to add additional windmills and remove an equal amount of conventional generation, then Texas would guarantee itself blackouts in the future.

Windmills are a deadend. They cannot power our society by themselves.

The Green New Deal is unworkable.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
July 15, 2022 12:16 am

The Green New Deal is only unworkable if one has an objection to the deaths of millions. AOC will be singing the praises of all the jobs created manufacturing backhoes to bury the dead.

Reply to  Don Thompson
July 15, 2022 12:14 am

Assuming Progressives can learn from history is a bad bet. Witness the current bout of inflation, which emulates the inflation unleashed by LBJ’s massive spending.

We will be informed that Europe “did alternative energy wrong,” just as Stalin “did socialism wrong.”

John Bell
July 13, 2022 3:12 pm

But the elites who impose austerity on the peasants can keep on using fossil fuels, of course!

Reply to  John Bell
July 13, 2022 3:39 pm

The elites feel they are more equal than we deplorables, ‘all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others’.

July 13, 2022 6:12 pm

Of course Francis is right about federalism but more importantly is the fact that the crisis didn’t materialize until the central planners took control. Before these overzealous misfits took control we were sailing along smoothly. Now that they are in control it is like we are sailing into a hurricane. It is no accident and all these green devils need to be held to account.

Jan de Jong
July 14, 2022 5:16 am

The French success with nuclear power has had little effect elsewhere. It probably needs abject failure, not success, to make an impression.

July 14, 2022 7:49 am

Federalism is the answer to much of what ails us. As conservative states unite to fight the central government’s mandates the economic gap between red and blue states will grow and the migration of people, and thus wealth, to red states will increase.

Reply to  rah
July 15, 2022 12:20 am

My greatest fear for federalism is that Tech Billionaires will intervene in local elections and that the representatives elected will not reflect the wishes of the people. Stacey Abrams is currently thriving in Georgia on funding of which 85% originated outside the state of Georgia. Witness also the $400 million that Zuckerberg spent in 2020, with the specific intent of removing Trump. This is clearly a financial development that the founders could not have anticipated.

Reply to  roaddog
July 15, 2022 8:24 am

We have that going on already. Look at the state AGs that are in backed by Soros. I can’t see how the States taking back their rightful powers is going to make that any worse.

July 14, 2022 9:25 am

utopian visionaries

Greens and eco-maniacs are not Utopians. They are counter-dystopians. Utopians believe things will be better with better governance, better technology, more human freedom, better something. Counter-dystopians believe things will be less bad with more rules, or better governance. Dystopians project climate hell ahead. Then they say we can stop climate hell if you put us in charge. They have ready-made solutions to their own nightmares. The solution to the hell they imagine in their models. They are like Marxists, who are also counter-Dystopians. Marxists believe that: Capitalism has ‘Laws of Motion’ which lead to its breakdown = Dystopia again; that communist central planning will end Capitalist breakdown.

Reply to  Mark Pawelek
July 14, 2022 9:26 am

put us in charge = put them in charge

M E Emberson
July 14, 2022 4:09 pm

For Stalin’s views on scientific matters look up Trofim Lysenko. in Britannica
Lysenkoism still permeates the thinking of many East Europeans.

July 16, 2022 2:11 pm


And now bearing the fruits of unrealistic lifecycle cost projections and environmental impact.

John the Econ
July 18, 2022 3:20 pm

I like it when bad Progressive policy is experimented with far from where I live. In the meantime, my state is prepared to sell our surplus electricity to them at top dollar.

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