The Environmental Protection Agency is at it again, but this time its target is one of their own – the federally-owned and ridiculously-subsidized Tennessee Valley Authority.
Now, for a libertarian-minded citizen, it gets a bit confusing when one wing of the federal government sues another, but let me try to get this straight. Citing alleged Clean Air Act violations, the EPA is using the force of the state to take money from the TVA, an organization that procures a significant portion of its money through … the force of the state.
The ridiculous situation reminds me of a burglar who can’t decide whether to hold his booty in his left or right hand. Who cares? The money’s already been stolen. Hold it in whichever hand you like.
The more interesting story is what the left hand of the EPA is doing with the money swiped from the right. As part of the settlement to rectify these environmental no-nos, the TVA will be forced to pay $350 million in “environmental mitigation projects” to make whole those whose property was damaged from TVA operations since November 1999.
But here’s the catch: just a fraction of that money is actually going to the states whose property was infringed upon by TVA operations. Only $60 million, about one-sixth of the total penalty, is actually going to the states. Kentucky is set to receive $11.2 million for its troubles. Sure, a lot of that money is being spent by Gov. Beshear on questionable political investments, but that’s a story for another day.
If the EPA is really in business to protect American citizens from the sort of property-rights infringement that occurs because of power plant emissions, then why on Earth is it pocketing $290 million of the $350 million payday? Shouldn’t that money go to reimburse those whose property was actually harmed by the TVA’s negligence?
Instead, the money is likely to go to this or that politically charged make-work project, to investments in unproven energy sources, or into the pockets of politically connected energy gurus.
That’s not the kind of justice Kentuckians concerned for the beauty of their property and natural wildlife are looking for.