Before the ink had dried on the PRC's order that PNM must issue a nearly 10% rate credits to customers upon the closure of the San Juan Generating Station, PNM filed a Motion to Stay the decision, failing to seek the positions of all parties as required by law, and demanding expedited responses, which the PRC immediately denied. Then yesterday PNM filed a Motion to Stay and an appeal of the PRC's decision at the NM Supreme Court, again in violation of the law which requires that they must exhaust all remedies at the regulatory agency before appealing to the court. We look forward to intervening on behalf of the people!
Not only does this for profit company seek to fleece NM ratepayers at every turn, they repeatedly flout the law, and their spokesperson had the audacity to suggest that PRC regulators elected by the people to represent their interests were engaged in "political grandstanding" because they dared to curb PNM's greed. PNM's plan is to wait out the current commission as they anticipate the appointment of rubber stamp corporate stooges in January.
But the important and momentous thing to remember today is that Unit 1 of the San Juan Generating Station has just closed its doors forever. Today we are one step closer to clean energy generation and clean air in New Mexico, and despite the best efforts of the illegitimate "Supreme" Court of the United States, coal plants all over the country and the world are closing faster than anyone anticipated. As reported in Forbes just three months ago:
The fundamental economic pressures pushing coal out of the U.S. electricity mix remain unchanged – 80% of existing coal plants across the country cost more to continue running than replacing them with new local wind or solar generation. Plant closure announcements have resumed their march to zero, with the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reporting 12.6 GW of coal capacity will close in 2022, representing 85% of all electric generation capacity retirements this year. Coal’s outlook is even more grim over the next several years. S&P Global Market Intelligence reports utilities will close 51 GW of coal power between 2022 and 2027, followed by a “record plunge” in 2028 with more than 23 GW scheduled closures. Federal rules to keep coal ash and toxic metals out of drinking water will take effect that year – regardless of Supreme Court decisions on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions – and many utilities are not investing in compliance upgrades for plants that keep losing money.
The people know where the future lies, the market knows where the future lies, and fossil fuel executives see the writing on the wall.
WHAT DOES THE SCOTUS DECISION ON CLIMATE EMISSIONS MEAN?
Reading the headlines about Wednesday's decision in West Virginia v EPA it is easy feel a sense of despair, but a closer reading of the case reveals room for hope and action. Yes, the Supreme Court's reliance on the "Major Questions" doctrine is ominous, providing an opening for industry to challenge a myriad of environmental rules and a host of other consumer and public safety regulations that inconvenience corporate executives, but the the Major Questions doctrine is not well defined and the ruling itself was narrow.
The ruling preserves the ability of the EPA to regulate pollutants that go along with greenhouse gases, to regulate tailpipe emissions, to regulate power plant operations, and to set ambient air quality standards. The federal government still has the power to reject drilling permits and deny industrial projects like refineries and pipelines. And the executive branch still has the power to invoke the National Emergencies Act to declare a climate emergency, to invoke the Defense Production Act and to ban the export of oil.
To abandon hope is dangerous. When we abandon hope, we invite despair, we lose motivation and we depress the motivation of the people around us to fight for change. The Clean Power Plan that SCOTUS ruled against in fact never went into effect, but its goals were met eleven years before the plans targets! There are forces at work in the world that are more powerful than SCOTUS, more powerful than fossil fuel executives, more powerful than capitalist ideology. Humanity is tenacious and inherently ethical. We invite you to join us in standing up taller, raising our voices louder and demanding justice.