President Obama and the EPA are expected to unveil the final version of their Clean Power Plan (CPP) next week. While criticism of the rule has centered on the economically disastrous impact the CPP’s carbon emissions regulations will have, some in Washington are crying foul for a different reason – that the regulations could leave hundreds of Florida manatees out in the cold…literally. 

It’s no secret the President’s carbon regulations will force the premature retirement of coal-fired power plants across the U.S. In fact the President seems wholly indifferent to the thousands of jobs and livelihoods he’s destroying. However what the President and EPA did not count on is that some of the power plants that will be shuttered are integral to the survival of hundreds of Florida manatees.              

The issue stems from the fact that the warm-water discharge from some Florida coal-fired power plants, such as Florida’s Big Bend Power Station, has become home to hundreds of West Indian manatees. The manatees are drawn to the warm-water discharge for a nearly six-month period in the winter.

In fact, as reported by the Washington Times, the Big Bend Power Station actually created a “Manatee Viewing Center” in 1986 with nature walks and observation platforms for visiting tourists. Thus the likely closure of such plants under the Clean Power Plan would have a profound impact on the manatee populations that rely on such sanctuaries to survive during the winter months. 

However in drafting the soon to be released Clean Power Plan, the President nor EPA took these impacts into consideration as would otherwise be required under the Endangered Species Act.

“This is troubling for the manatee, but even more disturbing is the possibility that the Obama administration would strategically disregard the law when it serves their interests or the President’s legacy,” said Julia Bell, press secretary for the House Natural Resources Committee.

The EPA has deflected charges the Agency failed to take into account the impact on certain endangered species like the Florida manatee, instead arguing the choice to close such power plants will be left to the states. However this argument holds little water given the Clean Power Plan’s compliance standards leave states with almost no “choice” but to shutter the plants.

While the outcome of this dilemma is still unclear, what is overwhelmingly clear is that nothing, not the destruction of thousands of people’s livelihoods or even the Endangered Species Act, will prevent the President from doing what he has to do to preserve his legacy.     


Photo Credit: Psyberartist