By Kuper Jones
The seemingly never ending cycle of financially burdensome regulations imposed on working families and small businesses by President Obama’s administration continued with the rollout of a sweeping 645-page EPA rule that will destroy jobs and contribute to higher electricity bills. The EPA rule seeks to remake America’s power and energy framework by imposing what is essentially a new carbon tax, and comes on the heels of September 2013, EPA-issued rules governing future power plants known as the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) – rules that essentially make it almost impossible to construct any new coal-fired power plants in the U.S.
The rules announced this week represent the second gut-punch in the White House’s attack on the energy industry, putting existing power plants and other sources of emissions in the bureaucracy’s crosshairs. The goal of the new rules is to impose strict new emissions on the states, forcing power producers to meet unachievable emissions levels and making lawmakers weigh bad options against other bad options — like doubling down on inefficient and unreliable “green” technologies, or choosing winners and losers in the energy market by mandating so-called “fuel switching.” Instead of utilizing a market based approach to address emissions, the Obama administration is yet again going with the top-down big government regulation strategy which will have severe economic consequences.
A recent report that analyzed the cost of strict caps on emissions conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce suggests that these rules will inflict serious damage on the economy and hardworking American families. While the rules proposed by the Obama EPA are slightly less restrictive than those considered by the study, the conclusions of the report are shocking.
The report found that a mandatory 42 percent reductions in emissions would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by $51 billon on average every year through 2030 (the Obama rules mandate a 30 percent reduction). Even worse, the analysis found that the new rules would destroy 224,000 jobs annually – again, through 2030. The report also concluded that the increased costs resulting from tighter rules on emissions would result in spiking electricity costs – some $281 billion more through 2030 – or roughly $3,400 per American household each year.
The new rules, like the NSPS that preceded them, is the government rigging the energy market in favor of green energy by making it essentially impossible for fossil fuel energy providers to survive. EPA will require power plants to meet impossible standards by requiring emissions reductions to 30 percent below 2005 levels. Assuming power plants don’t go bankrupt attempting to meet these requirements, the astronomical costs they accrue in doing so will be shouldered by the American consumer.
Realistically, the proposed rule is not going to achieve its goal of significantly reducing carbon emissions. The Chamber report indicates that even if energy producers were able to hit the kind of steep reduction targets favored by the White House and the green lobby, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere will remain largely unaffected. The Wall Street Journal recently noted that “[b]ased on the EPA’s own carbon accounting, shutting down every coal-fired power plant tomorrow and replacing them with zero-carbon sources would reduce the Earth’s temperature by about one-twentieth of a degree Fahrenheit in a hundred years.” That fact alone has left many people wondering if President Obama is putting his own legacy above the interests of American families by issuing these draconian rules.
The administration claims states will be given “flexibility” in implementing the rule, however, this is misleading. It will result in states forcing more expensive alternative and renewable energies on consumers. Many states across the country have already implemented similar policies in the form of renewable portfolio standards and have seen that such policies drive up the cost of electricity significantly. This will do more damage than good.
This rule could potentially mean the beginning of the end of affordable energy in America if President Obama and his green energy allies have their way. This fragile economic climate already puts enough financial strain on the backs of hardworking Americans. These new EPA rules are just another burden for American workers, small businesses and families already struggling to make ends meet.