The impending EPA rules on electric power plants will hit you hard. They will cause our electricity to go up, and will cost thousands of jobs in the state. They will lower incomes and make everything cost more. So says a new study just released by the Civitas Institute. Brian Balfour writes:
New rules by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposing unprecedented restrictions on electric power plants will drive up energy bills and cost North Carolina tens of thousands of jobs, according to a study conducted by the Beacon Hill Institute of Suffolk University and released by the Civitas Institute.
“These new rules forced upon the states by the Obama administration will unleash significant harm on the people of North Carolina,” said Civitas Institute President Francis De Luca. “Energy bills will rise dramatically and our economy will lose tens of thousands of jobs. These new rules will especially harm low-income households.”
A policy brief for the study analyzing the impacts on NC can be read here, and a more detailed analysis and explanation of the study’s methodology can be read here.
The study concludes that North Carolina will experience higher electricity costs and greater effects on energy reliability than most states due to its higher portion of electricity production coming from coal-fired power plants, which are especially targeted by the EPA.
The impact on North Carolina’s economy will be significant. The study found that:
• EPA rules will cost the North Carolina economy a total of $1.7 billion between 2015 and 2030.
• The state’s economy will lose 32,120 jobs by 2030.
• Real disposable income would fall by $3.5 billion per year by 2030.
• Electricity bills for residential ratepayers will increase by about $355 per year by 2030, and for industrial ratepayers by nearly $52,000 per year.
“North Carolina has always enjoyed lower than average electricity rates and a reliable grid. But with the combination of EPA regulations and the state’s renewable portfolio mandates, the Old North State will see a transition to higher costs and less reliable energy production,” De Luca said.
Utility and state agency representatives at a legislative hearing expressed concern over the potential costs of a proposed EPA rule to cut carbon emissions from power plants and said reduction goals in the plan fail to account for progress the state has already made.
The EPA rule, the final version of which is expected to be released in June, calls for Wisconsin utilities to reduce carbon output by 34 percent by 2030. States would be allowed to act individually or partner with other states to develop compliance plans. Gov. Scott Walker and others have vowed to sue the EPA over the rules if the agency goes ahead with them.
Bart Sponseller, director of the DNR’s Bureau of Air Management, told Wednesday’s joint hearing of the Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Public Works and Military Affairs and the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities that Wisconsin has made “significant strides” in the use of renewable energy and in energy efficiency in the last 15 years. The EPA’s plan, he said, penalizes Wisconsin relative to other states that have not taken similar action.
PSC Commissioner Ellen Nowak said the rules could cost between $3.3 billion to $13.4 billion to implement, not counting upgrades to pipelines and transmission infrastructure. She said the gulf in estimates is due to considering different assumptions in the state’s strategy to comply and differing estimates of natural gas prices.
The reduction targets are based on what the EPA projected could be saved through efficiency improvements in existing coal plants, increased use of natural gas for power generation, use of renewable and nuclear power, and reduced demand through energy efficiency improvements. Nowak said the PSC found that there would only be a 15 percent carbon reduction achieved by following the EPA’s strategy.
She and others also expressed concerns with how the rule would affect reliability of power in the state and what they described as short timetables for planning and compliance in the proposed rule.
Utility representatives testifying before the panel echoed these concerns and said the biggest issue for them is getting credit for earlier action to reduce emissions and increase efficiency. They also said the EPA was being unrealistic in its estimates of how much efficiency can be improved at coal-fired plants and noted that coal-fired plants may have to be run less often, reducing the plants’ efficiency as they power up and down.
Republicans worried about the cost of the plan and the potential for job losses due to increased energy costs for businesses and the possibility some coal-fired plants could be closed. They also questioned the extent to which the EPA rule would affect global carbon emissions while countries like India and China ramp up their use of coal for power generation.
Dems, meanwhile, said the increased investment could lead to job growth in the state and questioned assumptions the PSC made in its cost projections. Rep. Josh Zepnick, D-Milwaukee, accused Republicans for relying on hypotheticals in discussing the rule’s potential impacts.
Keith Reopelle, policy director for Clean Wisconsin, said not acting to curb carbon emissions would carry a “huge cost” due to the effects of global warming on winter recreation and tourism, agriculture, coldwater fisheries and public health.
Reopelle noted the state can make changes beyond those recommended by the EPA to reduce carbon, and pointed to the possibility of burning natural gas and coal simultaneously in some plants, co-generating heat and power at existing plants and boosting efficiency programs such as home weatherization for those with low incomes.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced it would finalize three enormous rules regulating carbon emissions this summer, as a part of the Obama administration’s plan to implement an ideological, environmentalist agenda. One rule in particular, the Clean Power Plan, would have a devastating effect on America’s electricity industry and the U.S. economy.
The generation and retail provision of electricity has been the prerogative of state governments since the passage of the 1935 Federal Power Act. The law was premised on the notion that an electric utility is a “local institution” and should be “locally controlled,” as articulated by former U.S. Sen. Burton Wheeler of Montana, one of the statute’s sponsors. It established a bright line between state and federal jurisdiction, whereby Washington regulates interstate wholesale power sales and the states oversee retail electricity markets within their borders.
While not perfect, that longstanding model has served the nation pretty well. So it came as a surprise last summer when the Obama administration proposed the Clean Power Plan, an unprecedented power grab that would usurp oversight of the electric industry from the 50 states and give it to the EPA.
Historically, states have overseen their electricity industry to incentivize affordability, reliability and use of local fuel sources. The Clean Power Plan, on the other hand, would jettison these sensible state-determined goals and instead impose a federally determined goal for resource planning: carbon reduction. The result will be more expensive and less reliable power for American industry and consumers.
Then there is the issue of the agency itself. Considering recent events at the EPA, it is deeply worrying for it to be entrusted with such a major responsibility.
Over the past year, the EPA has been rocked by embarrassing scandals, including revelations that a high-ranking agency official had defrauded the agency of more than a million dollars over a decade by impersonating a CIA agent, an employee was caught watching porn for six hours a day on the taxpayer dime (and who received a performance bonus), and widespread reports that employees at the EPA’s office in Denver had repeatedly used a hallway as a bathroom.
Plainly, this agency can barely manage itself, yet the Obama administration would like to hand the EPA power over the entire electricity industry, the backbone of the U.S. economy.
Consumers stand to lose the most. According to a study by the economic consulting firm NERA, the Clean Power Plan would be the most expensive regulation ever imposed on the power sector, costing between $41 billion and $73 billion per year.
It will hit Americans’ gas bills, too. An analysis by Energy Ventures Analysis estimates that the EPA’s suite of energy regulations, including the Clean Power Plan, cumulatively would increase the cost of electricity and natural gas by nearly $300 billion in 2020 compared with 2012.The rule also poses a threat to electric reliability. By the EPA’s own estimates, it would shutter 68,000 megawatts of fossil fuel electric generating capacity.
Federal, regional, and state experts have warned that the Clean Power Plan threatens to turn out the lights in much of the country. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Philip Moeller warned that the Clean Power Plan could lead to “widespread rotating blackouts” in parts of the country.
Southern Company CEO Thomas Fanning, whose company serves several Southeastern states, told Bloomberg in November, “I don’t think we have the ability to maintain a reliable system” and comply with the new EPA rule. And a reliability analysis performed by the independent operator that maintains Texas’s grid warned the rule “could result in transmission reliability issues due to the loss of generation resources in and around major urban centers.”
And for what? The EPA’s climate rule would fail to impact the climate in any meaningful fashion, since the vast majority of global emissions originate outside the United States. According to the Cato Institute’s Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger, who modeled the climate impact of the rule, the Clean Power Plan would only reduce temperatures by 0.018 degrees Celsius by 2100.
In sum, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a costly regulation that serves no valid environmental or public health purpose. Yet, that is to be expected when such a bungling agency is put in charge of the nation’s vital electricity industry.
Utilities need to plan years in advance, and as a result, they have to reckon with EPA’s Clean Power Plan now, even though the rule isn’t set to be finalized until this summer. The upshot is that the regulation is already causing economic distortions. Congress should rein in the agency’s attempt to overlord the provision of electricity, before the costs begin to mount.
William Yeatman is a senior fellow specializing on energy and environment issues at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The difficult adjustments that domestic coal operators are making in a rapidly evolving energy market have been made “immeasurably more difficult” for their employees and mine communities by reckless federal regulations, said Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association (NMA). Addressing the annual energy outlook conference of the U.S. Energy Association last week at the National Press Club, Quinn said newer, larger coal power plants will generate electricity more efficiently and cleanly. But substantial capacity has already been retired and more capacity is still at risk because of various rules by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that now threaten the reliability of the grid and the affordability of electricity. “What EPA is doing is depriving households and businesses of the lowest cost electricity available today,” Quinn said.
Citing energy experts from grid regulators to economists, Quinn described the growing chorus of critics now warning that the agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan puts both electricity affordability and reliability at risk.
Increasingly, Quinn said, governors whose states are expected to implement the plan are calling into question its assumptions, its timeframes for implementation and its very feasibility. “Governors are realising that long after this administration is gone from office, they’ll be trying to explain rising electricity prices to their constituents,” Quinn said.
In a global energy market that is not expected to improve significantly in 2015, Quinn suggested that the best news for fossil energy producers in the New Year may come from Washington. A friendlier Congress will conduct closer oversight hearings to expose instances of regulatory overreach, he said, and the Supreme Court will decide several cases brought by NMA that could result in a more balanced regulatory environment.
New electricity regulations being proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would have devastating effects on the U.S. economy, but would be even more detrimental to Wisconsin’s families and businesses.
According to this joint study published by The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University and The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan would cost Wisconsin $920 million in 2030, increase electricity prices significantly and lower disposable income in the state by nearly $2 billion.
The EPA’s proposed rules, which are expected to go into effect in summer of 2015, aim to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired electricity power plants by cutting the allowable amount of emissions by more than half. The rules would force utilities to close coal-fired plants in Wisconsin or adopt expensive and unproven technologies, such as carbon capture and storage.
If the regulations stay unchanged, by 2030, the average residential customer would pay an additional $225 a year for electricity. The average commercial business would pay an additional $1,530 a year for electricity. However, both rate hikes are a fraction of the increases that would be faced by the state’s manufacturers.
Wisconsin’s industrial businesses account for one-third of electricity use in the state. Because of a heavy reliance on electricity to power large machinery, the average industrial ratepayer can be expected to pay an additional $105,094 a year in 2030.
Such a dramatic increase in energy costs for manufacturers – the backbone of Wisconsin’s economy – would have a direct impact on the state’s workers.
Thanks to rising electricity prices across all sectors – residential, commercial and industrial – nearly 21,000 jobs would be lost and disposable income would drop $1.82 billion over the next 15 years.
Wisconsin would suffer especially because of its strong reliance on electricity generated by coal-fired power plants. More than 60 percent of electricity generation in the state is from coal-fired plants, more than double the national average of 28 percent.
The rules proposed by the EPA would therefore inflict large negative impacts on the economy of Wisconsin. The state would experience significant declines in employment, wages, disposable income and investment upon implementation of the policy.
Wisconsinites and state policymakers need to be aware of the serious consequences that come with these rules.
A Republican-controlled Congress, several important cases before courts and growing opposition in governors’ mansions across the country offer three venues where blows could be struck to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, according Hal Quinn, President and CEO of the National Mining Association (NMA).
“The 114th Congress is one reason to think we will see an effective counterweight to executive policies that restrict our nation’s energy choices,” said Quinn, speaking at the US Energy Association’s State of the Industry Forum. “ The House of Representatives was quite active in the last Congres [and] we fully expect the Senate under new leadership to join [it] this year in conducting robust oversight and advancing corrective legislation.”
Meanwhile, “the dust from the stampede to the court house will be visible” when the EPA finalises emissions rules for new, modified and existing power plants, said Quinn. But all that could be avoided by a case pending in the D.C. Circuit in which Murray Energy and 11 states claim the EPA is prevented from regulating power plants using Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act because it already regulates them under Section 112 and such double regulation is outlawed in the act.
“It is entirely possible the court may decide to dismiss the case as premature,” said Quinn. “But there are compelling reasons for the court to decide sooner than later the threshold questions of [the] EPA’s authority to regulate power plant CO2 emissions.”
Quinn concluded by noting that a growing number of governors were realising that they would be the one’s responsible for implementing the CPP long after the current administration had left the White House. “They will be left explaining to their citizens why they must live with a risky power plan where the costs are real but the benefits are not,” said the NMA chief, before questioning what penalties – in practice – a state would face if it refused to implement the CPP.
“Let’s consider: can the EPA actually step in and run a state’s grid; order some plants to run less, others more; decree the build-out of more renewables, transmission and pipelines; and tell businesses and households their darkest days and ahead because they must use less energy?” asked Quinn. “This may be a dog with more bark than bite.”
Mr. McCord acknowledged that compliance with the proposed standards could create economic damage and would be “tough to embrace.” That would be particularly so in Pennsylvania, one of the country’s top energy-producing states, which provides a significant proportion of the electricity for consumers and businesses in the eastern United States.
What he failed to consider is that all of the U.S. coal-fired power plants combined account for a mere 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In comparison, coal-fired power generation in only two developing nations, China and India, account for 20 percent, and they are increasing their reliance on coal.
So, despite the considerable consequences in Pennsylvania — the endangering of thousands of family-sustaining jobs, increased electric rates and a diminished supply of reliable baseload electricity — the proposed emission standards would provide little, if any, environmental benefit.
The coal industry already has made significant strides in reducing all types of emissions, including sulfur, nitrogen, particulates and carbon. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reported carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants in the state declined by 12 percent between 2008 and 2013.
The proposed standards for existing power plants cannot be met with commercially available technology. Contrary to Mr. McCord’s assertion, targeting one industry by imposing impossible-to-meet standards is the antithesis of “real flexibility.”
Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydro are a welcome addition to America’s energy landscape. However, in Pennsylvania, these sources combined make up only 3 percent of the electric portfolio, even with the assistance of the state and federal grants used by several of the companies touted by Mr. McCord. It is impractical to assume that these sources could replace coal’s market share of 40 percent in Pennsylvania and 39 percent nationally even with continued availability of subsidies and grants.
Coal, gas and nuclear energy account for nearly 88 percent of U.S. electricity generation, renewables for only 12 percent. The Energy Information Administration projects that renewables will account for only 16 percent by 2040.
According to the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh, the coal industry supports more than 36,000 jobs across all sectors of Pennsylvania’s workforce and contributes more than $4.5 billion per year to the state’s economy. Of the 36,000 jobs, some 13,000 are family-sustaining coal-industry jobs, the kinds of jobs we worry about losing to other countries. These jobs provide a strong tax base and add to the state budget annually. In 2011, the coal industry contributed $1.1 billion to the state general fund.
Mr. McCord’s recounting of Pittsburgh’s transformation from steel production to high tech is inspiring. But that transformation would not have been possible if electricity prices were up to 100 percent higher, which has been the experience in some nations and regions of this country when the most affordable and reliable energy source — coal — has been removed from the electricity-generation picture. Pennsylvania electric rates make the state attractive for businesses and manufacturing.
A recent study conducted by NERA Consulting showed that if the Clean Power Plan is enacted as proposed, Pennsylvania’s electric rates will increase by up to 31 percent. For the 2.4 million low-income and middle-income families in Pennsylvania that spend, on average, 19 percent of their after-tax income on energy — almost 50 percent of the state’s households — this rate increase would leave many in the cold.
On one point Mr. McCord is absolutely correct — Pennsylvania has been making remarkable progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why we should continue to reduce emissions as science and technology evolve without crippling our economy for little or no additional environmental benefit.
We do not need to choose between the economy and the environment. We can preserve jobs, continue to power the economy and have reliable, affordable electricity with a commonsense approach on this issue.
John Pippy is CEO of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance.
Utilities this year are bracing for proposed cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide, a pollutant blamed for global warming. What it means for consumers — some say it could hike electric bills — is so far unclear.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is targeting power plants that burn coal, oil and natural gas as the nation’s largest source of carbon and wants states to submit pollution reduction-plans next year.
Reaction is divided sharply among Central Florida utilities.
Orlando Utilities Commission and Duke Energy object to what EPA calls its Clean Power Plan, saying it could trigger big increases in power bills.
But the company that owns the state’s largest utility, Florida Power & Light Co., says it’s ready for carbon reductions and backs EPA’s initiative.
EPA wants utilities to generate more electricity with less pollution, harness carbon-free energy such as solar and wind, and promote conservation through more efficient homes and appliances.
Just how doable those demands are has been spelled out by utilities in their comments to state and federal regulators.
Of the three largest power providers in Central Florida, FPL has the lowest rate. It charges $99.57 for a home using 1,000 kilowatt-hours in a month, which is about average for consumption.
FPL’s parent company, NextEra Energy Inc., touts itself as the nation’s largest owner of electricity-generating wind turbines, and one of the largest solar-energy companies.
NextEra Energy, or NEE, also calls its Florida electric utility, FPL, one of the most efficient in the nation.
“It is with this experience that NEE supports EPA’s efforts,” the company said.
NextEra Energy said FPL’s modernization effort has left the company able to comply with EPA, but other utilities could struggle.
“It is not appropriate for FPL customers to subsidize other companies for their compliance costs,” NextEra stated. “Our customers already have made the investments to achieve compliance.”
Central Florida’s largest utility is Duke Energy, which has about 560,000 customers in the Orlando area. It has the highest rate of the three utilities: A monthly bill for a Duke residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours is $125.13.
Duke said EPA’s plan requires a “very significant reduction in emissions that likely cannot be achieved.” Attempting to do so, according to Duke, would be “unreasonably burdensome and potentially costly to Florida consumers.”
The North Carolina-based utility said EPA’s target for reducing customer consumption of electricity – through conservation measures such as better attic insulation and energy-stingy appliances – is too high to be achieved.
The “adoption of these measures ultimately is up to the customer, and neither the EPA, the state agencies, nor the utilities can mandate or force energy efficiency measures to be implemented,” Duke said.
The city-owned Orlando Utilities Commission serves 195,000 customers and its monthly residential charge for 1,000 kilowatt is $109.43.
But the city utility said cutbacks in coal would be risky because it would further the state’s heavy dependence on natural gas, which may shoot up in price.
Orlando’s utility worries the EPA proposal could force the shutdown of one coal plant and limit use of the other. They would have to be replaced by an expensive plant that runs on natural gas and would take many years to build, OUC said.
OUC said EPA’s proposed reduction of electricity usage through energy efficiency may be feasible, but isn’t likely to be achieved because “60 percent of our residential customers live in rental units.”
“These customers have no incentive to invest in the properties they don’t own and the owners have no incentive to invest because they don’t benefit from the reduced electric bill,” OUC said.
The differences between Central Florida utilities are mirrored nationwide.
EPA’s plan faces opposition from political conservatives and industry groups. For example, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity argues the plan will cost jobs and do little to slow climate change.
Clean-energy advocates say the plan does not go far enough. “EPA’s proposal can and should be strengthened,” said the Natural Resources Defense Council.
A quick word
EPA has received nearly 2 million written comments about its proposed and controversial Clean Power Plan. In Florida, environmentalists and FPL are largely supportive of the initiative. But most utilities and their advocates have many concerns, including Barry Moline, executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association.
“EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but in the process will put Florida’s electric system in peril, betting our future mostly on a single fuel, natural gas. Coal gives us 30 days of in-state fuel storage, while natural gas must be piped in soon after it is extracted. Giving up on coal is like removing the gas tank from your car and hoping there’s a gas station every ten miles on the highway.”
“Furthermore, the transition proposed by EPA is too fast, and will inflict a double financial whammy on Floridians. While we are paying for building new natural gas plants, we will still have mortgages to pay on the coal plants that will be shut down before the end of their useful life. This will cost Floridians billions of dollars in duplicate costs.”
(CNSNews.com) – Even as gasoline prices plummeted and the overall energy price index calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics declined, electricity prices bucked the trend in the United States in 2014.
Data released today by the BLS indicates that the electricity price indexes hit all-time highs for the month of December and for the year. 2014 was the most-expensive year ever for electricity in the United States.
The annual price index for electricity, published by BLS today, was 208.020. That was up from 200.750 in 2013.
The seasonally adjusted electricity price index for the month of December was 210.151, according to the BLS. That sets an all-time record for the seasonally adjusted monthly electricity price index. The previous high was 209.341 in March of this year. In December 2013, the seasonally adjusted electricity price index was 203.740.
The average price for a kilowatt hour of electricity in the United States was 13.5 cents in December. That is the highest average price for KWH of electricity in the month of December since the BLS started recording the December monthly price for a KWH in 1978. In December 2013, the average price for a KWH was 13.1 cents.
The average price for a KWH of electricity tends to hit its annual peak in the summer months, decline in the fall, hit its nadir in the winter and rise in the spring. In 2014, the average price for a KWH hit a record high for that particular month in each month of the year. In June, July and August of this year the average price of a KWH hit 14.3 cents—its all-time high for any months on record.
By contrast, the overall Consumer Price Index declined by 0.4 percent in December with particular help from the decline in the price of gasoline.
“The gasoline index continued to fall sharply, declining 9.4 percent and leading to the decrease in the seasonally adjusted all items index,” said the BLS in its press release on the CPI. “The fuel oil index also fell sharply, and the energy index posted its largest one-month decline since December 2008, although the indexes for natural gas and for electricity both increased.”
The BLS’s price indexes measure relative change in prices against a baseline of 100. The annual electricity price index exceeded 100 between 1983 and 1984, when it rose from 98.9 to 105.3. In the past two decades, the price of electricity in the United States has roughly doubled.
Rising electricity prices have not always been the norm in the United States. In 1913, the BLS annual electricity price index was 45.5. By 1946, it had dropped to 26.6. In 1974, it was still only 44.1—less than it had been six decades before in 1913.
The net production of electricity in the United States peaked in 2007, according to data published by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration. That year, the United States generated 4,156,745 million KWH of electricity.
In 2013, that latest full year on record, the United States generated 4,058,209 million KWH of electricity—or about 2.4 percent less electricity than in 2007
The latest data from the Energy Information Administration, published in December, includes electricity generation numbers through the first nine months (January through September) of 2014. In those nine months of 2014, more electricity was generated (3,117,501 million KWH) than in the first nine months of 2013 (3,077,418 million KWH) or 2012 (3,095,504 million KWH), but less than in the first nine months of 2007 (3,166,614 million KWH).
The composition of the sources of electricity generation also changed between 2007–when the nation produced its peak volume of electricity–and 2014.
In the first nine months of 2007, the U.S. produced more electricity with coal (1,523,714 million KWH) than in the first nine months of 2014 (1,231,795 million KWH).
The U.S. also produced more electricity in the first nine months of 2007 with nuclear power (607,846 million KWH) and petroleum (53,802 million KWH) than it did in the first nine months of 2014, when it produced 596,174 million KWH and 24,953 million KWH from those source respectively.
By contrast the U.S. produced more electricity in the first nine months of 2014 than it did in the first nine months of 2007 by means of natural gas (844,743 million KWH to 688,035 million KWH), conventional hydroelectric (200,614 million KWH to 199,261 million KWH), wood (31,668 million KWH to 28,729 million KWH), waste (14,499 million KWH to 12,723 million KWH), geothermal power (12,170 million KWH to 10,967 million KWH), solar (14,271 million KWH to 532 million KWH), and wind (133,495 million KWH to 23,522 million KWH).
In the first nine months of 2014, solar power equaled about 0.46 percent of total electricity generation. Wind power equaled about 4.3 percent of total electricity production.
Nearly half of the nation’s governors have already laid out their priorities for climate change, and U.S. EPA’s rules lowering the power sector’s greenhouse gas emissions were far from an overarching theme. But several Republican governors used the regulation as a target.
So far, no one has embraced the EPA rules. Two Democrats laid out aggressive climate change actions that would likely reduce greenhouse gas emissions far beyond their states’ Clean Power Plan goals.
Then there was Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R). He spent a significant portion of his speech lambasting President Obama’s energy policies. “In my lifetime, I have never seen an onslaught against a single industry, a single commodity, like the Obama administration’s anti-coal agenda,” he said.
At times, Mead’s speech read like an ode to coal. “It keeps us warm in the winter and cool in the summer,” he said. “It keeps the lights on and the factories humming.” When it comes to both consumption and production,according to Energy Information Administration data, coal is king in Wyoming: The state produces more of it than anywhere else in the country and relies on coal for the vast majority of its energy needs.
The Clean Power Plan, which Wyoming has sued to block, requires the state’s power sector to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 19 percent (ClimateWire, Nov. 13, 2014). Regardless, Mead voted to “continue to work with bulldog determination on coal initiatives, port expansion, next technology and value-added products. We don’t need to let up, we need to double down. We must assure coal’s continuity.”
Two other Republican governors — both considered 2016 presidential prospects — addressed EPA’s energy regulations, as well.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced the Badger State will soon file suit against the Clean Power Plan. “These proposals could have a devastating impact on Wisconsin because we are so heavily dependent on manufacturing,” he told lawmakers.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who hasn’t been as aggressive as Walker about a White House bid but is still considered a possible candidate, made a broader mention of the impending power plant rules. “Know this,” he said. “Indiana is a pro-coal state, and we must continue to oppose the overreaching schemes of the EPA until we bring this war on coal to an end.”
Threats of legislative action in coal states
EPA’s final rules won’t be released until midsummer, and state compliance plans aren’t due until 2016 at the earliest. But states, especially Republican-controlled states skeptical of the regulations, may still act on the matter this year.
The influential American Legislative Exchange Council has prepared draft measures that would slow down compliance by requiring legislative signoff on state proposals (ClimateWire, Dec. 9, 2014). Several legislative bodies are also considering measures similar to a Kentucky law barring the state from submitting a plan that utilizes expanded renewable energy or natural-gas-fired power plants for compliance (Greenwire, Jan. 12).
Air regulators have repeatedly warned against those types of restrictions (ClimateWire, Dec. 10, 2014).
Meanwhile, on the other end of the ideological spectrum, two West Coast Democrats pitched aggressive policies aimed at lowering their states’ carbon footprints. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee pitched a cap-and-trade program he unveiled last month. “We have a moral obligation to act,” he told lawmakers. “Our moral duty is to protect a birthright. Future Washingtonians deserve a healthy Washington.”
Visions of cap-and-trade money in the far West
Inslee has been focusing less on morals and more on money in his pitch to lawmakers, though. Revenue from the cap-and-trade program, he said, could be used to help fill the state’s budget gap (ClimateWire, Dec. 18, 2014).
But perhaps the most aggressive climate change policies belonged to California’s Jerry Brown, who delivered his State of the State address earlier this month after being sworn into an unprecedented fourth term as the Golden State’s chief executive.
Brown called on lawmakers to set policies to reduce fossil fuel-based fuel use in vehicles by 50 percent by 2030. And during that time frame, he urged the state to get to a point where half of its electricity comes from renewable energy (E&ENews PM, Jan. 5).
“All of this is a very tall order,” he said. “It means that we continue to transform our electrical grid, our transportation system and even our communities.
“This is exciting,” Brown added. “It is bold, and it is absolutely necessary if we are to have any chance of stopping potentially catastrophic changes to our climate system.”
In his State of the State message Governor Matt Mead asked for support of his energy and water initiatives and for investment in education, infrastructure, and local government. Mead said this will help overcome a downturn in energy prices.
But the governor admitted that challenges remain. He told legislators that his administration will fight against what he calls federal overreach, especially as it pertains to coal. “And in my lifetime, I have never seen an onslaught against a single industry, a single commodity, like the Obama administrations’ anti-coal agenda. The EPA has had a green light to go after the coal industry and 6 years later coal is still targeted by federal regulators.” Senate Minority Leader Chris Rothfuss was pleased with the governor’s speech, but he called for spending an additional 200 million dollars on local governments over the next four years. Rothfuss says he agrees with Mead that investing in Wyoming would help combat an economic downturn.
In the latest challenge to the Obama administration’s intensifying regulatory actions, a coalition of free-market and conservative organizations is calling on state governments to resist the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.
In a December letter to state legislators, attorneys general, and governors, the coalition’s 37 organizations blasted EPA’s attempt to “coerce states into adopting expensive, destructive, and unlawful regulations, possibly including cap and trade, on greenhouse gas emissions—under the threat of even more draconian federal regulations.”
“When Congress enacted and amended the Clean Air Act, it did not authorize EPA to restructure state electricity policies,” the coalition wrote. “If at any time in the past six years, a senator or a congressman had introduced the CPP’s emissions-reduction requirements, the bill would have been dead on arrival.”
Among the organizations signing the letter are 60 Plus Association, American Energy Alliance, American Family Association, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Energy & Environment Legal Institute, Maryland Taxpayers Association, National Center for Public Policy Research, National Taxpayers Union, Rule of Law Institute, and The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News.
The letter points out the Obama administration was unable to get Congress to enact a cap-and-trade plan covering greenhouse-gas emissions. Absent legislation, the administration is seeking to curb greenhouse-gas emissions (referred to as “carbon pollution”) administratively by issuing new regulations under the Clean Air Act.
On June 2, 2014, EPA unveiled its Clean Power Plan (CPP). Under the CPP, the nation’s existing power plants are required to cut CO2 emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
The CPP designates the states as the instrument to carry out EPA’s mandates, with the agency setting a CO2 emission target for each state. The states are then required to enact laws to meet the targets, subject to EPA approval.
To meet the targets, states may employ EPA-approved options such as: renewable energy mandates, increased energy efficiency standards for homes and appliances, and instituting carbon taxes or a cap-and-trade regime.
On its website, EPA justifies the CPP by claiming, “Our climate is changing, and we’re feeling the dangerous and costly effects right now.” The agency goes on to assert average temperatures “have risen in most states since 1901” and climate and weather disasters in 2012 “cost the American economy more than $100 billion.”
EPA’s Authority Questioned
Calling EPA’s move “an affront to both federalism and the separation of powers,” the coalition letter says the CPP “is unlawful and almost certain to be overturned” by the courts.
The letter continues, “EPA stretches the pertinent statutory authority, section 111 (d) of the Clean Air Act, beyond all recognition. This obscure, seldom-used provision was designed to set technology-based emissions standards for ’particular sources,’ aptly defined as ‘designated facilities’ in EPA’s 1974-1975 implementing regulations. In the CPP, EPA illicitly treats the entire electric power sector of a state as a ‘particular source’ and illicitly sets emissions standards based not on technologies specific to coal power plants but on the agency’s wish list for ‘green power’ policies.”
The fate of the CPP is uncertain, as the rule will likely be challenged in court, a process that can drag on for as much as two years. Furthermore, the new, Republican-controlled 114th Congress may attempt to block the regulation.
Jay Lehr, science director of The Heartland Institute, said, “The Obama effort to end coal energy in our country is an egregious attempt by his administration to make him a messiah to the greens. It sits on a crumbling foundation of falsehoods. First, that carbon dioxide is causing the planet to warm, which cannot be true as the temperature has been stable for 18 years while CO2 has continued to increase. Second, that CO2 is a pollutant, when we know life would not exist without it.
“There is no case of administrative overreach more deserving of resistance than this one.”
Nobody likes higher prices. But higher prices for an absolute necessity like energy are more than just an annoyance.
For senior citizens living on fixed incomes and other economically vulnerable communities, increased rates can mean the difference between getting by and having to do without.
Energy price increases have been outstripping seniors’ Social Security cost of living adjustments for a decade now. Unfortunately, that trend is likely to get worse, with much higher electricity prices on their way right here in Colorado.
Since oil, natural gas and coal prices have all been falling recently, it may seem odd to be predicting another energy price hit. But it’s not the market that will drive prices higher.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from America’s power plants by 30 percent by 2030. Colorado’s target is even higher, at 35 percent. The impact of this and other rules coming out of Washington on climate change is unknown. But the impact on the electric power industry and prices is all too clear.
In the first half of 2014, American household electricity prices jumped by more than 3 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Colorado succeeded in holding the line and keeping power prices below the national average, mainly because the state gets almost two-thirds of its electricity from low-cost coal. That is likely about to change.
Since 2012, six of Colorado’s coal-fired power plants have shut down. Two more are scheduled to close by 2017. Together, those eight plants account for 1,000 megawatts of generating capacity, enough to power about a million households. The EPA’s new plan will only accelerate the closures and the result will be a rapid rise in electricity prices.
To be clear, Colorado’s utilities won’t bear the burden of higher electricity prices — instead that cost is going to be passed right onto you.
How much is the cost of electricity expected to rise? A recent study from Energy Ventures Analysis —an energy consulting firm that supports the electric natural gas and oil, coal and renewable power industries — shows that under the EPA’s new plan wholesale electricity prices in Colorado are expected to spike at least 26 percent by 2020.
All the while, as Coloradans and Americans across the country pay the price of EPA action, global carbon emissions will continue to rise.
Emerging economies are connecting tens of millions to the electricity grid for the first time each year. Millions more are purchasing their first cars. China, not the U.S., is the world’s largest carbon emitter.
Believing regulatory action in one country can address a global challenge is foolish, dangerous for our economy and unfair to those, like so many of our seniors, who are already struggling to get by.
According to a 2010 survey conducted by the nonprofit the Applied Public Policy Research Institute for Study and Evaluation, high energy prices already have forced more than 40 percent of low-income seniors to go without needed medical or dental care, and even to skip meals or shut off the heat on cold days.
The EPA’s narrow focus on reducing carbon emissions, despite the costs, is a grave mistake. Affordable, reliable energy must always come first.
Jim Martin is chairman of the non-partisan 60 Plus Association, a seniors advocacy group with a free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors’ issues. He has submitted comments to the EPA regarding the agency’s proposed carbon emission regulations for power plants and has advocated for of seniors having access to affordable and reliable electricity on Capitol Hill and at the National Press Club.
Will the United States have enough electric power to get us through next winter?
This may seem like an outlandish plot for an action movie, but it’s not so far-fetched.
You see, new regulations handed out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are forcing coal-fired power plants to close faster than they can be replaced with new, gas-fired generation.
In fact, the country’s largest electric grid operator, PJM Interconnection LLC, has voiced concern.
The company has even asked the Obama administration for permission to pay power plant owners to keep at least 2,000 megawatts of generating capacity in operation through next winter.
If the administration doesn’t do something, we could be facing some serious blackouts this time next year.
The Great Shutdown
This year PJM, which has 62,566 miles of high-voltage transmission lines serving 61 million customers in 13 Eastern states and the District of Columbia, says it’ll see a historic amount of electric generating resources retired – 11,769 megawatts to be exact.
A full 41% of PJM’s electricity is generated by coal, by the way.
In contrast, only about 3,800 megawatts of new generating capacity is expected to be added in 2015.
The grid operator went on to say that over the next two years, there will be more than 30 gigawatts of coal-fired power plants that will be forced into retirement by the EPA’s new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS).
According to the Institute for Energy Research (IER), there has been or will be about 72 gigawatts of generating capacity (94% of which is coal-fired) lost nationwide due to EPA regulations.
That is seven times the amount originally predicted by the EPA!
To put that into perspective, IER says that is enough electricity to power every home west of the Mississippi River, excluding Texas.
And, PJM isn’t the only company that’s worried. Many electric utilities have voiced concerns.
Electric Execs Worried Too
At the Edison Electric Institute’s 49th annual conference in November, the scheduled closures were a hot subject.
The CEO of Southern Company (SO), Thomas Fanning, said of following the government’s mandates, “I don’t think we have the ability to maintain a reliable system.”
Nick Akins, the CEO of American Electric Power (AEP), called the EPA’s timeline for emissions reduction “wishful thinking.” Akins is also the CEO who told Congress after the winter of 2014 that the nation “dodged a cannonball” during last winter’s polar vortex.
An internal analysis conducted by AEP showed that following the EPA’s plan to the letter may result in “cascading blackouts.”
Many neutral industry observers back up the claims of the power companies that there simply aren’t enough pipelines in many parts of the country to transport the natural gas needed to fuel the newly built gas-fired power plants.
Building new pipelines in the United States is also a major undertaking, due to environmental regulations and court challenges from environmental advocacy groups.
These new regulations are turning out to be a major headache for everyone in the sector. But how will it affect you and me?
Bills, Bills, Bills
Besides the possibilities of blackouts, electric consumers will feel the EPA regulations right where it hurts the most – their wallets.
Brattle Group, a consulting firm, forecasted that electricity prices could jump as much as 25%!
The main hit will be taken by consumers served by grids that rely a lot on coal-fired power. These grids are, of course, in the Northeast and Midwest.
The EPA says that a 25% rise in rates is a small cost to pay for the “huge benefits” to public health and a “better future” for our children.
A proposed federal rule to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from U.S. power plants will weaken the nation’s power grid and could even cause blackouts, say some of the officials who run the country’s electricity network.
The Environmental Protection Agency wants carbon-dioxide emissions from plants that generate electricity to be 30% lower by 2030 than a benchmark level set in 2005. More than two million comments have poured into the agency since June, when the Clean Power Plan to curb carbon was released, and many say the reduction isn’t feasible.
Stephen Whitley, chief executive of the New York Independent System Operator, says the proposal threatens power plants critical to New York City because they often have to burn carbon-emitting fuel oil to generate electricity. That is because Empire State plants can have a hard time getting natural-gas deliveries during high-demand seasons like winter.
The EPA refutes the idea that its Clean Power Plan could result in blackouts. In a written statement, the agency says it has enforced the Clean Air Act for 40 years while keeping power flowing to communities and businesses, and the impact of the new Clean Power Plan “will be no different.”
States will have flexibility to achieve carbon reductions and 15 years to make the shift, the agency says. The goal of the carbon-cutting initiative is to comply with President Barack Obama ’s directive to reduce greenhouse gases that heat up the atmosphere, “while also ensuring a reliable energy supply for the future,” the EPA says.
But complying will require many electric utilities across several states to shut down plants that burn coal to generate power, and to build more renewable resources like wind farms. Plants that burn natural gas to create electricity are a good option, in theory, because they emit about half as much carbon as coal, but many states don’t have good access to natural-gas supplies.
Philip Moeller, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, says there may not be enough natural-gas pipeline capacity to move the fuel to all the new gas-burning power plants that will be needed in the future. Furthermore, it is unclear who will pay for building new electric plants and natural-gas pipelines.
FERC will hold three hearings this year on the Clean Power Plan—in Washington, D.C., St. Louis and Denver—at the request of Republicans in the House who oppose it. The EPA said Wednesday it plans to issue a final rule by midsummer—a few weeks later than originally proposed—and wants states to submit their carbon-reduction plans to the agency in 2016.
But grid officials say states may have less time to make adjustments than it appears. Legal challenges could delay a final rule, with critical details cemented, until the end of this decade. And until a final rule is issued, power companies won’t commit to building new resources, they say.
“The clean power plan will cause reliability problems for us” during the transition period, says John Bear, chief executive of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which manages the power grid for an enormous swath of North America, stretching across 15 states from Louisiana to Manitoba. He fears coal-fired plants will shut down before enough replacements are built, crimping electricity supplies.
Mr. Bear says an analysis of the Midcontinent system shows electricity supplies could slip below the federally required level later this decade. As power plants shut down, fewer will feed the grid, increasing the chance for power disruptions during extreme weather, he says.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued a report calling a shift to cleaner resources wise, but added, “there is a limit to how fast this change can occur.”
Half the coal-fired power plants operating in Texas are threatened by a raft of environmental rules written by the EPA, including the proposed Clean Power Plan, says Warren Lasher, director of system planning for ERCOT. Coal plants will be forced to scale back operations and will earn less from power sales, he says.
ERCOT economists believe some Texas power plants will fail financially in the state’s deregulated market, and the overall reliability of the state’s power grid will suffer.
Not all grid operators are worried about their networks. California has never depended on coal to generate electricity and already has programs in place that encourage energy conservation and renewable power sources.
But even the California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s grid, supports giving states the flexibility to respond to situations that threaten power flows, even if the solution temporarily pushes up pollution. Extremely hot temperatures, hurricanes, earthquakes and terrorist attacks could require power generation from dirtier sources that would act as a “reliability safety valve,” California’s system operator says.
Washington DC (KELO AM) – U.S. Sen. John Thune today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on the EPA to withdraw its proposed regulations on exiting power plants, citing the significant financial burdens it will impose on South Dakota consumers, as well as technical infeasibilities that will drive up energy costs and threaten grid reliability.
“The Obama administration’s proposed power plant regulation is yet another example of presidential executive action that Americans clearly rejected in November as it will hurt jobs and increase costs,” said Thune. “The president’s proposed regulation is a national, backdoor energy tax that will slam South Dakota rate payers—especially low-income families and seniors living on fixed incomes. Affordable and reliable energy provides essential comforts for families across the country this winter and powers American industries to build a stronger economy. Yet the EPA’s proposal will make electricity rates skyrocket and stifle economic growth. I continue to urge Administrator McCarthy to reconsider.”
On June 2, 2014, the EPA proposed the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, or Clean Power Plan, requiring a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 2030. Under the proposed rule, South Dakota power plants must reduce carbon dioxide emission rates 35 percent by 2030 based on emission levels from 2012. This reduction mandate is more stringent than the national average for the EPA’s proposed reductions. According to testimony provided to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission in July of 2014, South Dakota consumers could see their electricity bills increase by as much as 90 percent on account of this regulation.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which counts the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. among its founders, is based in Atlanta, Georgia but has branches across the country. One of SCLC’s missions is to eradicate environmental classism and racism wherever it exists. This past winter, we experienced one of the worst cold snaps and storms in recent memory, which highlighted the challenges we still face on managing weather events. You may recall the news coverage of impassable highways and of commuters stranded for hours in their cars.
The dramatic images on television certainly provided a glimpse of the immediate impacts of the storm but there were other impacts that were not seen but are still being felt from extensive power outages or increased utility bills throughout the South. All told, Americans east of the Mississippi spent $14 billion more on their power bills last winter than they did the year before. In some areas, power costs rose a jaw-dropping 1,000 percent. Sadly, the effects were especially pronounced among our most vulnerable brothers and sisters: the poor, the sick, the mentally ill and others that suffer hardship each day.
While we know weather events like last year’s polar vortex can truly make a bad situation worse, what would happen if the outcomes we experienced last winter – namely, less reliable and more expensive electricity – become a regular occurrence? If not stopped, that’s exactly the reality we will face as new, largely unrealistic environmental regulations from Washington, D.C. could leave us facing widespread power outages and increased energy costs, even when we’re not in the midst of extreme weather.
I am neither an engineer, nor a weatherman, so why does this issue concern me? I am concerned because changes to the reliability and affordability of electricity disproportionally impact vulnerable, lower-income Americans. These regulations single out those who deserve our compassion and our aid and place the greatest cost on their shoulders.
Energy costs are already on the rise, and they are projected to increase exponentially in the coming years. In fact, energy costs as a percentage of overall household income are rising at a higher and faster rate for low-income Americans. Dealing with these increased costs is just one part of the equation, as health and safety issues are part and parcel of the problem. People’s health conditions are impacted if they are forced to live without air conditioning or heat, or if meals are skipped just to foot the bill for energy.
During last year’s winter storm, many hourly workers were unable to go to work, with most absences averaging five days away during the storm. As schools were closed and kids were home, families realized an even greater burden for their grocery budgets. When businesses face rising energy costs, they’ll be forced to make cuts themselves, and workers across the board could be left without a job at all. Multiply the cost of not working by increased utility bills, and the outlook is deeply troubling.
As a person who has spent a lifetime fighting on behalf of poor people, I cannot support these proposed regulations. My belief in the spirit of Dr. King and my deep devotion to serving the least among us does not allow me to do so. Others who stand behind the regulations seem to think we must make a choice between protecting our environment and protecting low-cost, reliable electricity. I believe we can achieve both, but not by pursuing radical rules that do little to affect the environment, yet bring so much pain to hard-working people who can least afford the price-tag.
Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. is the president/CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
The EPA acts as though it has the legislative authority to re-engineer the nation’s electric generating system and power grid. It does not.
As a law professor, I taught the nation’s first environmental law class 45 years ago. As a lawyer, I have supported countless environmental causes. And as a father and grandfather, I want to leave the Earth in better shape than when I arrived.
Nonetheless, I recently filed comments with the Environmental Protection Agency urging the agency to withdraw its Clean Power Plan, a regulatory proposal to reduce carbon emissions from the nation’s electric power plants. In my view, coping with climate change is a vital end, but it does not justify using unconstitutional means.
Although my comments opposing the EPA’s proposal were joined by a major coal producer, they reflect my professional conclusions as an independent legal scholar. I say only what I believe, whether I do so pro bono, or in this case having been retained by others. After studying the only legal basis offered for the EPA’s proposed rule, I concluded that the agency is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority.
The Clean Power Plan would set a carbon dioxide emission target for every state, and the EPA would command each state, within roughly a year, to come up with a package of laws to meet that target. If the agency approves the package, the state would then have to impose those laws on electric utilities and the public.
The agency would effectively dictate the energy mix used in each state and leave the state with essentially no choice in implementing its plan. But Supreme Court precedent settled over two decades ago in New York v. United States (1992) and reaffirmed by a 7-2 vote as recently as 2012 in NFIB v. Sebelius, the ObamaCare decision, holds that such federal commandeering of state governments defeats political accountability and violates principles of federalism that are basic to our constitutional order.
Even more fundamentally, the EPA, like every administrative agency, is constitutionally forbidden to exercise powers Congress never delegated to it in the first place. The brute fact is that the Obama administration failed to get climate legislation through Congress. Yet the EPA is acting as though it has the legislative authority anyway to re-engineer the nation’s electric generating system and power grid. It does not.
To justify the Clean Power Plan, the EPA has brazenly rewritten the history of an obscure section of the 1970 Clean Air Act. The EPA cites Section 111 of the Clean Air Act as authority for its proposal. In reality, this part of the law expressly says that it may not be used to regulate power plants where, as is the case in this situation, those plants are already being regulated as Congress contemplated under another part of the law, Section 112—one involving hazardous pollutants.
Last spring, the Supreme Court read the statute in precisely that way in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA. The EPA acknowledges that the Clean Air Act “appears by its terms to preclude” its proposal. That is an understatement. And the problem can’t be dismissed as a quirk in the statute. The language at issue has been a feature of the Clean Air Act for decades. That’s why, in 2008 (New Jersey v. EPA), the D.C. Circuit struck down a far less ambitious EPA rule under exactly the same statutory constraint involved here. Today the agency is again circumventing the checks Congress deliberately built into the Clean Air Act and distorting it to justify a wide-ranging carbon rule in a way Congress never intended or authorized.
Frustration with congressional inaction cannot justify throwing the Constitution overboard to rescue this lawless EPA proposal—especially when the EPA itself, through Senate testimony by its administrator, Gina McCarthy, has touted its proposal as “an investment opportunity” that isn’t really “about pollution control” at all.
Some defend the EPA’s power grab on the grounds that it has the potential of averting global disaster. They remind us that, to save the Union during the Civil War, Lincoln was willing to suspend habeas corpus without the congressional authorization the Constitution requires. Today, with the benefit of hindsight, even Lincoln’s decision looks more like an overreaction—akin to the Alien and Sedition Acts and the internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor—than a genuinely necessary response to an existential crisis.
Justice Robert H. Jackson —Nuremberg prosecutor and among our greatest defenders of constitutionalism and the rule of law—joined the Supreme Court’s decision denying President Harry Truman the authority to seize steel mills during the Korean conflict without the congressional authorization the Constitution required. Truman justified his shortcut by invoking national security, citing the need to prevent labor strife from disrupting the war effort.
In Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952), Justice Jackson said no. He warned of losing sight of “the balanced power structure of our Republic” and reaffirmed that “ours is a government of laws, not of men.” We should heed his words today.
Mr. Tribe is a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School and a University Professor at Harvard University. He was retained byPeabody Energy to provide an independent analysis of the proposed EPA rule.