In Massachusetts vs. EPA, the Supreme Court sided with a group of Green States seeking to impose draconian energy rationing schemes on America. A few states have access to non-carbon energy sources (hydro-power or older nuclear power) and, thus, can reward their ideological majorities at lower cost. But most Americans will become poorer as energy prices sky rocket. With EPA moving aggressively toward mandating this new power, restricting energy use throughout the nation, conflict will surely erupt among the states of the union.
One of the most creative features of our Constitution was its concept of competitive federalism. States were to be the laboratories of democracy. The goal was not to impose national uniformity but to allow states to try different ideas – as long as those policies did not harm interstate voluntary exchanges.
The Massachusetts decision harmed that arrangement as did the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which forced northern states to enforce southern slavery rules. The concept of ensuring voluntary interstate commerce had little to do with the coercive institution of slavery but the recognition that slaves were “property” was stretched to force non-slave states into policies that they viewed as harmful and immoral. Non-slave states responded by enacting laws nullifying that decision, refusing to allocate funds for its implementation and eventually to the Civil War.
The impact of Massachusetts is different but perhaps as significant. Religious Malthusians are determined to enforce their Puritanical vision on America. They are most powerful in a handful of coastal states and seem very willing to use federal coercion to force their beliefs on middle America. States are already moving to enact laws and resolutions to oppose this push. And as the lights go out and plants are shuttered throughout America, we may find ourselves moving toward greater conflict here too. The prospect is worrisome.