Monthly Archives: August 2015

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

EPA’s Clean Power Plan and Europe’s Folly

Via The Hill:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final Clean Power Plan (CPP) to reduce carbon dioxide pulls a colossally damaging and futile national energy plan out of a bureaucrat’s hat. Who needs congressional authorization by law to dismember the engineering marvel that is our national electric power system? The EPA “architects” may have lots of letters behind their names, but their federal plan to overhaul the U.S. electric “machine,” as the agency now calls it, belies fundamental physical and economic energy realities.

The EPA substantially upped the ante of the CPP in the final rule. The plan now aims for the full monty of green orthodoxy: a mandatory path toward a zero-carbon electric sector. At the proposal stage, the rule envisioned that more natural gas-fueled electric generation would replace most coal-generated electricity. The plan finalized in early August assumes static or declining use of natural gas. This major change from the initial proposal carries far higher risks and costs. The agency apparently has concluded that building new natural gas plants will delay achieving the ultimate goal of decarbonization, an objective casually asserted by President Obama.

Thus, the EPA now looks to supposed zero-carbon renewable energy sources to the fill the huge gap created by an EPA-induced retreat from natural gas. According to the rule language: “Emission reductions achieved through the use of new Natural Gas Combined Cycle Capacity (NGCC) require construction of additional [carbon dioxide] emitting generation capacity, a consequence that is inconsistent with the long term need to continue reducing [carbon dioxide] emissions beyond those achieved in this rule.”

The role of natural gas as the “bridge” fuel to the future — long understood as the only viable lower-carbon alternative — may be quite short. To compensate for less natural gas in the generating mix, the EPA assumes that renewable electric generation in the U.S. will more than triple within the next 15 years. The EPA calculates renewable generation in 2012 — an anomalously high year because the federal subsidy was soon to expire — at approximately 218 million megawatt hours (MWh). By 2030, when the CPP is in full effect, the EPA expects renewables will generate 706 million MWh — an uncanny growth rate of 314 percent in just 15 years.

This wildly optimistic assumption may trump Germany’s “Energy Revolution,” considered the most radical rush to renewable energy in the world. The EPA’s ambitious plans for renewable energy — predominantly through onshore wind facilities — would force the U.S. on a path similar to that legislated several years ago in Germany and Britain. The European schemes may have put lots of renewable energy on their electric grids but with grave, counterproductive impacts. Major European and U.S. media report on the European rush to renewables as “environmental lunacy” (The Economist) that has become a “fatal blunder with ugly consequences” (Die Zeit). With retail electric rates three times higher than the average U.S. rate, Germany’s Der Spiegel writes that electricity has become a “luxury good” for low- and middle-income families. Yet, the European energy debacle is never meaningfully raised in discussions about renewables.

U.S. policymakers must scrutinize the results of Europe’s misinformed gamble that intermittent renewable energy can handily replace coal and natural gas as mainstay fuels for electricity. Now that the EPA would force dependence on wind and solar generation at a massive scale, we need to absorb the lessons of Europe.

Germany, with Britain close behind, made gross miscalculations about the cost of renewable subsidies, the engineering complexity of integrating large volumes of uncontrollable renewable power, and the widening financial losses in renewable industries, conventional electrical utilities, key energy intensive industries, related investors, shareholders and consumers. As a result, everybody has lost.

Germany has learned that when the renewable share of total generation approaches a certain percentage, the risk of grid instability soars and necessitates completely redundant backup power. Furthermore, generation from coal or natural gas — the carbon sources — are capable of ramping up and down in an instant when wind speeds and cloud cover fluctuate. A German transmission operator reported that interventions to stabilize transmission rose from two in 2002 to more than 1,200 in 2013!

In the ultimate green irony, Germany is now subsidizing construction of 10 new (lignite) coal-fired power plants to ensure enough backup power. Wood has returned to the power scene because at least it is reliable, now accounting for around 40 percent of Germany’s renewable portfolio. Yes, Germany is using more and more renewable energy, but the country’s carbon dioxide emissions are rising and subsidies are ballooning. Former minister of the environment, Peter Altmaier, estimates the subsidies will approach a $1 trillion by 2022.

Modern systems of electric power have achieved phenomenal precision, efficiency and reliability through the integrated operations of conventional power plants, electric grids and transmission networks. Supply, affordability, reliability and safety have long been the controlling priorities. The carbon content of generating fuels, however, has now become the overarching priority for dispatch to the grid — a criterion at odds with previous priorities.

An accessible, affordable, reliable and versatile electric power system is a sine qua non of healthy, prosperous societies. Now that the EPA has marshalled coercive federal power to weaken our electric power supply, a candid review of Europe’s folly is crucial.

White is distinguished senior fellow for energy and environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and former chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

See the article here.

Clean Power Plan Could Have Big Impact on Rural Areas of Missouri

Via Lake News Online:

In a state that relies heavily on coal to produce the majority of electricity used by consumers, the Environmental Protection Agency’s final rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions will have a significant impact on rates and jobs and could determine who can keep their lights on and their homes cool. 

These rules, known as the Clean Power Plan, have been developed under the Clean Air Act, an act of Congress that requires the EPA to take steps to reduce air pollution that harms the public’s health.

The new rules from the EPA will reduce carbon emissions from power plants. The emissions are considered to be a significant factor in global warming. Power plants account for nearly 40 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. 

The rules are expected to hit Missouri’s electric cooperative members especially hard because 80 percent of the electricity used by them comes from coal, the generation fuel source singled out by the new regulations. That is troubling to electric co-op leaders because they serve some of the poorest counties in the state. Counties where affordable and reliable power could be jeopardized. 
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is one of the groups on a national level challenging the EPA ruling, saying it exceeds the EPA’s legal authority under the Clean Air Act. The NRECA commissioned a study that underscores the devastating relationship between higher electricity prices and job losses. 

The study, Affordable Electricity: Rural America’s Economic Lifeline, measures the impact of a 10- and 25-percent electricity price increase on jobs and gross domestic product (GDP) from 2020 to 2040. Even a 10 percent increase in electricity prices results in 1.2 million jobs lost in 2021 across the country with nearly 500,000 of those lost jobs in rural communities. 

Under the proposed EPA regulations released in 2014, Missouri had to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants by 26 percent. The new rules increased those levels to 37 percent. Missouri was one of 22 states that now have to meet more stringent reductions than were proposed. 

NRECA and other cooperative organizations are concerned the impact of the new rules will hit rural areas the hardest, hurting the economy and making it a hardship for lower income families to afford electricity.  They, along with some state and federal legislators have taken a vocal stand asking the White House to delay the rule.  

NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson said any increase in the cost of electricity most dramatically impacts those who can least afford it, and the fallout from the EPA’s rule will “cascade across the nation for years to come.”

In Missouri, there are 40 distribution cooperatives which provide electricity to individual homes, farms and businesses. Some co-ops are quite large while others may serve just one county. Missouri’s smallest electric cooperative has just over 2,000 member-owners while the largest has more than 40,000 members.

 “There is a lot at stake with these final rules,” says Barry Hart, CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. “Electric cooperatives are not-for-profit and member owned. We are focused on the affordability and reliability of electricity because that is what our members have told us to do.”

Hart said the final rules make it far more likely electric rates will dramatically increase. 

Jim Jura, CEO of Associated Electric Cooperative, which supplies wholesale power to electric co-ops in Missouri and parts of Iowa and Oklahoma said the final rule is much worse for Missouri than the draft rule was. 

“Coal generation has been a significant factor in providing our members with reliable electricity at low rates,” Jura said.”Unfortunately, these regulations will significantly impact that.”

Missouri is home to 13 rural counties with persistent poverty, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Each of these counties are served by a rural electric cooperative. Rural electric cooperatives serve 93 percent of the nation’s persistent poverty counties and are almost 80 percent dependent on coal-fired power. 

Although electric cooperatives have made strides when it comes to use of renewable energy sources, they are nowhere near being able to provide affordable and consistent service. 

Wind is playing an increasingly larger role in generating the electricity used by electric cooperative members in Missouri. 
Members of electric co-ops who are served by Associated Electric Cooperative are the beneficiaries of wind power generated by five wind farms in Missouri and Kansas. A sixth project located in Oklahoma is expected to add considerably to the mix soon. 
CoMo Electric Cooperative Communications Manager Ryan Cornelius said power from renewable sources, wind and hydro generated power, accounted for about 15 percent of the total used last year. Solar is also a source to be utilized, he said. 
While those are renewable sources, Cornelius said they are not necessarily affordable nor reliable on a consistent basis. Coal continues to be the most reliable and affordable. 

Over the last 20 years, Cornelius said AEC has spent $1.1 billion on reducing emissions and improving emissions from coal powered plants. 

Consistently Cornelius said what coop members identify as their top priority is affordability.

That’s important to cooperatives where 20 percent of the members have an annual household income in the neighborhood of $25,000.  

In the end, consumers will pay the price for higher regulation, CoMo member Jane Boyce said. 

“I haven’t done a lot of research, but I have attended several county functions here and have heard from several ranchers, farmers and even mennonites concerning the EPA regulations on coal,” she said. “It will affect the rural communities especially the farms and ranches. Coal is the cheapest  source of energy we have here in Missouri.” 

Boyce said she has talked to friends who are own farms and raise cattle, Those agribusinesses are already paying large utility bills. She worries about the impact of higher utility costs on them. Several may be forced to sell off land to stay afloat. 
“The Mennonites operate hot houses, growing vegetables in winter to sell to grocers in the area,” she said.  They are already beginning to close some down.  They can’t afford the bill.”  

Senator Roy Blunt, who has been an outspoken opponent of the new rules uses similar numbers in his discussions about the EPA ruling. Blunt said particularly in the last decade, the power industry has made great strides in producing cleaner emissions from coal. 

Blunt said the new rule will impact the poor who are barely able to pay their bills now. 

In May 2015, Blunt co-sponsored the bipartisan Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act, legislation to rollback President Barack Obama’s burdensome EPA greenhouse gas regulations for both new and existing power plants. 

In December 2014, he filed comments urging the EPA to withdraw the proposed CPP rule for existing power plants. In January 2014, he led a bipartisan group of 21 Senators in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to stop punishing the most vulnerable American families with higher utility bills.

Blunt recently visited Camdenton and other areas of the state to meet with electric cooperatives to discuss the ramifications of the new rule and the challenges ahead. 

While the rules have been issued, Missouri is still in the process of developing a state plan. State Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Miller County, is chairman of the Energy and Environment Committee developing the state’s compliance plan.  
The committee has been meeting and talking with stakeholders about the rules, the impact on the state and what Missouri needs to do. 

Miller said the consistent concerns are ensuring reliability, sustainability and cost efficiency. 

“As a state with a power profile that includes 80 percent coal, we have to plan to have a more diverse mix. It only makes good business and policy sense to not put all of our eggs in one basket,” he said. “However, Missouri must be careful on how it moves towards this mix, we cannot put an undue burden of cost on the consumers of the energy in our state. In addition, we cannot move to unstable forms of energy production that can cause a substantial cost increase due to higher production costs.”
While natural gas is currently inexpensive and is looked upon as a favorable power source by the federal government, that appears to be very short sighted.  Miller said in the early 1990’s when natural gas spiked in cost and caused a lot of hardship on consumers and he would be concerned it could happen again.  

His belief is that depending too much on natural gas as a dominant source of energy would be unsound.

“In the move to diversify we must also realize we have a large resource available to us, coal.  The United States has years of this resource available to us and technology is being researched and proven at a pace that must not be overlooked,” Miller said. “Clean coal technology must be part of the energy plan for Missouri, otherwise we are ignoring a proven, existing technology.  Also, to remove coal from our power profile would be too expensive for the citizens of our state.”
Moving forward, the state must have a plan that is economically sound, reliable,  protect the environment and be open to and support technological advances in the energy field. 

“One of the largest growing segments of the economy is emerging energy fields and Missouri must not be left behind as the sector continues to grow,” Miller said. 

The Energy and Environment Committee has a last public meeting scheduled for Thurs., Sept. 17, at noon at the Willmore Lodge in Lake Ozark. The state plan is due Oct. 15.

Cost: Retail electricity prices and expenditures will rise under the Clean Power Plan, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration in an analysis of the draft plan. Most of the increase will likely to come in the early 2020s in response to initial compliance measures. The EIA analysis showed increased investment in new generating capacity and increased use of natural gas for generation would lead to electricity prices that are 3-7 percent higher on average from 2020-25 – based on the analysis of the draft Clean Power Plan (which some say was less stringent than the final rule) versus baseline. Prices are forecast to return to near-baseline levels by 2030 in many regions. Electricity expenditures also generally rise with Clean Power Plan implementation, but expenditure changes are expected to be smaller in percentage terms than price changes as the combination of energy-efficiency programs pursued for compliance purposes and higher electricity prices tends to reduce electricity consumption relative to the baseline. By 2040, total electricity expenditures in the Clean Power Plan case were expected to be nearly the same or lower as decreases in demand offset price increases, according to the EIA. Demand-side energy efficiency plays a moderate role incompliance, relative to the early role of natural gas and the eventual role of renewables. The economics of increased natural gas generation and expanded renewable electricity capacity vary regionally, the key determinants being: 1) the natural gas supply and combined cycle utilization rates by region; and 2) the potential for penetration of renewable generation in regions including states that have no (or low) renewable portfolio standards.


Emissions: In the EIA analysis of the impact on greenhouse gases, the draft Clean Power Plan would reduce projected power sector CO2 emissions. Reductions in projected emissions in 2030 relative to baseline projections for that year range from 484 to 625 million metric tons. The projected power sector emissions level in 2030 ranges from 1,553 to 1,727 million metric tons across the cases, reflecting a reduction of between 29 and 36 percent relative to the 2005 emissions level of 2,416 million metric tons.

• 80 percent coal dependency in the state of Missouri
•13 number of counties in Missouri with persistent poverty levels where rates would likely rise 
• 15 percent of power came from wind and hydroelectric sources 
• 40 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions from from power plants 
•500,000 potential job loss in rural communities nationwide 

See the article here.

EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulations Will Raise Costs for Steel Industry

Via The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The steel industry in the U.S. is subject to substantial international competition, often against steel producers in countries where energy costs are subsidized.  Access to reliable and affordable energy supplies – especially electricity – is therefore critical to maintaining the domestic industry’s competitiveness.

New EPA greenhouse gas regulations for electricity providers will raise costs for American steel companies since the leading steel producing states in the U.S. are heavily dependent on coal for electricity production. These regulations for both new and existing power plants will have a disproportionate impact on coal-fired utilities and a detrimental effect on steel making, as the costs of compliance and reliability risk will be borne by the steel industry and its 16,335 workers in Ohio.

Limitations on CO2 emissions instituted in the United States must also apply at the same level of stringency to other major steel producing nations, such as China.  Otherwise, steel production and manufacturing jobs will shift to other nations with higher rates of greenhouse gas emissions. We urge Congress to act now to oppose EPA’s plans to threaten the affordability and reliability of electricity supplies to our industry.

Thomas J. Gibson,

Washington, DC

Gibson is President and CEO, American Iron and Steel Institute

See the article here.

Clean Power Plan Will Hammer Nevada seniors

Via The Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Ronald Reagan once said that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Sadly, Reagan is being proved right once again by a sweeping new plan that the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to impose on the states. In an effort to “help” address climate change, the EPA has come up with a proposal that would force Nevada and the other states to take actions that would drastically increase energy prices and hurt their citizens.

Enough is enough. Nevada needs to take a stand against Washington this time and just say no to the EPA.

The EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan would force the states to make huge cuts in carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants — a 32 percent cut in emissions from electricity generation by 2030. Despite Nevada’s already promising commitment to increased investment in renewable sources of power, the EPA, under President Barack Obama’s direction, is pushing forward with its mandate.

The cost of compliance for Nevada could be a 40 percent jump in wholesale electricity prices, according to a study by Energy Ventures Analysis. That’s a tough hit for any family to take, but it might be an almost impossible burden to bear for many of Nevada’s seniors scraping by on social security.

I work with seniors every day, and all too often, I meet people who have worked hard all their lives and are now struggling to get by on a modest fixed income. Too often, they have to make choices most of us can’t imagine. Sometimes, the choice is between refilling a needed prescription and staying comfortable during the height of summer heat. A surge in the price of an absolute necessity such as electricity will make heartbreaking choices like these even more difficult — and more common.

It’s too bad that instead of focusing on finding ways to relieve economic distress for seniors and other vulnerable communities, bureaucrats in Washington are pushing policies that will make their lives even harder.

Fortunately, Nevada is resisting Washington’s destructive energy policies. The state Legislature is exploring ways to limit what action EPA can take to remake the state’s electricity mix. However, a better approach is for Gov. Brian Sandoval to simply refuse to orchestrate a state implementation plan for the mandate.

Under the EPA proposal, each state is required to submit a plan for meeting Washington’s carbon reduction targets. By refusing to submit a plan, Nevada will show that it puts people first — that government policies aren’t about abstract targets, but about how they affect individuals just trying to get by and get ahead.

The EPA needs to rethink its plan and come up with an approach that won’t put a crushing burden on thousands of struggling Nevadans and millions of Americans. Elected officials from 32 states have expressed serious concerns about the EPA’s plan. Nevada can take the lead in protecting consumers by saying no to EPA’s misguided proposal.

Jim Martin is founder and chairman emeritus of the 60 Plus Association.

See the article here.

When Cost of EPA Rules Hit Home, Watch Out

Via The Kearney Hub:

Lots of numbers have been tossed out over the past several weeks as Nebraska officials react to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of more aggressive clean air goals and what they mean for coal-fired generating plants, but here is the most dismaying statistic: Nebraska electrical rates stand to increase by 24 percent because of the EPA’s goals.

Why will Nebraskans’ electrical costs rise so much? It’s because in the long term, we’re a state that’s heavily invested in coal from neighboring Wyoming. Coal is nearby, it’s cleaner burning than what’s mined elsewhere in the United States, it’s abundant, and it’s less expensive than most other energy sources for generating electricity.

With all that coal has going for it, we needn’t question energy officials’ decisions years ago to build large coal-fired generating facilities and take advantage of Nebraska’s proximity to Wyoming’s coal fields. Fast forward 30 or 40 years, however, and it’s a different world. Scientists tell us that burning petroleum is altering our climate, and based on those claims, President Obama and the EPA want the United States to do its part in cleaning up the atmosphere.

The result: Electrical rates that will jump by 24 percent and cost our state $3.5 billion more per year by 2020. Nebraska has no choice but to resist the EPA mandate, and it appears we might have a sound argument because the 40-percent reduction in greenhouse gases the EPA has prescribed for Nebraska is far higher than what Congress prescribed. EPA may not possess the constitutional authority to exceed congressional clean air standards.

While Nebraskans wait for the courts to decide whether the EPA has stepped over the line, we have some decisions to make and some changes in our lifestyles and business practices to contemplate.

We expect our state’s power suppliers, including Nebraska Public Power District — which produces electricity for 86 of our state’s 93 counties — to continue diversifying its generating sources to greener wind, natural gas and other energy forms. We residents of Nebraska also need to think about our approaches to energy. In particular, we need to conserve and cut our usage. NPPD and other power districts can assist with educational programs that address how Nebraskans use energy at home and in their farms and businesses.

We may not feel compelled to save today, but when the 24-percent rate hikes take effect, most of us will get more serious about reducing our consumption.

See the article here.

Colorado Should Not Comply with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Via The Gazette:

On Aug. 3, President Barack Obama laid out the final version of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. In the wake of the EPA’s role in the Animas River disaster, which so far has dumped 3 million gallons of wastewater into the river, Coloradans should rightfully be wary of the way the EPA will implement the Clean Power Plan – and according to new polling, they are.

While Obama and EPA head Gina McCarthy have been busy touting the potential benefits of the Clean Power Plan, both have ignored the very real costs it will impose on coal-powered states, like Colorado.

Polling commissioned by the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank, found that 65 percent of Coloradans rated their state’s environmental quality “very good” or “excellent.” A different poll conducted by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry and the National Association of Manufacturers found that 76 percent of registered voters rated Colorado’s air quality as “good” or “excellent.”

If an overwhelming majority of residents in Colorado already think the environmental and air quality in the state are fine, then why is there a need for heavy-handed federal regulations that could come with several negative externalities?

A majority of Coloradans are skeptical of the Clean Power Plan when presented with the likely negative impacts if it’s implemented.

The Independent Institute’s poll found that 59 percent of Colorado residents are more likely to oppose the Clean Power Plan if the rule resulted in electricity bill increases – which it is expected to do. In a preliminary analysis of the Clean Power Plan, the group NERA Economic Consulting calculated that the new regulations could increase retail electricity prices between 12 to 17 percent – which translates to as much as $240 more per year for electricity.

Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they would oppose the plan if it meant increased poverty rates in black and Hispanic communities – which is likely according to the National Black Chamber of Commerce. In a recent op-ed, Harry Alford, president of the Chamber, ripped the Clean Power Plan, saying it would lead to job losses, lower incomes and higher poverty for minorities. A study conducted by the Chamber found that by 2030 the Clean Power Plan will lead to $565 billion in higher annual electricity costs.

By raising energy prices, the EPA rule will make essential items more expensive because having higher electricity costs doesn’t just mean a higher utility bill; it means higher prices on food, clothing and any other item you buy from a store that uses electricity. Lower- and fixed-income individuals spend a greater percentage of their income on electricity and essential items, so they would be negatively affected at a much greater rate.

In 2013, 64 percent of electricity generated in Colorado came from coal. The state ranks 11th in the country in terms of coal production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Colorado is without a doubt a coal-powered state, but as the surveys show, the state and coal plants in the state have done a really good job at keeping pollution levels down and the environmental quality in Colorado high.

The EPA’s plan seeks to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions 32 percent by 2030. In order for Colorado to be compliant, it would need to reduce its emissions by 40 percent, since it is a larger producer of these emissions.

The EPA is seeking to accomplish this by forcing state environmental protection agencies to develop plans on how they will reduce the amount of carbon emissions produced in their states, and then having the state agencies send those plans to the federal EPA in Washington, D.C., so that they can enforce the implementation of the plans. The EPA is demanding that plans be submitted to them by 2022.

But with so many residents rightfully concerned about the negative impacts of the Clean Power Plan, many are wondering what Colorado’s options are moving forward.

The best option for states, particularly in coal country, would be to not comply with the EPA’s mandate and not submit carbon emission reduction plans.

Attorneys general in 16 states have joined a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s ruling, and submitting plans to the EPA while waiting for the litigation to play out would undermine the legal challenges against the Clean Power Plan. Colorado’s attorney general, Cynthia Coffman, has not decided on whether or not the state will join the multistate lawsuit against the EPA, but Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has said in the past that he will direct state officials to comply with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan rules.

Nearly 6 out of 10 surveyed in the Independence Institute poll said the state should wait to comply, and half of those surveyed said the state should at least determine the cost of compliance before complying.

Gov. Hickenlooper should listen to the residents of the state and not submit a carbon emission reduction plan to the EPA. The Clean Power Plan represents an unprecedented overreach into state electricity production affairs by the federal government. With Coloradans still wondering what exactly the EPA was thinking when it dumped millions of gallons of wastewater into the Animas River, they are rightfully hesitant to embrace officials from outside the state meddling in their environmental affairs. Regardless of the EPA’s role in the Animas disaster, the Clean Power Plan is bad public policy that will raise the price of electricity in Colorado and make life more difficult for the most vulnerable residents of the state.

Erik Telford is president of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

See the article here.

Obama’s ‘Clean Power Plan’ Hurts Economy

Via The Hill:

Affordable, dependable energy is crucial to everyone, especially the poor, the elderly, those on fixed incomes, and local institutions like schools and hospitals.  Anything that makes energy more expensive and less dependable should be viewed with disdain.

A case in point is a slightly revised version of EPA’s 111(d) Rule, better known as the Clean Power Plan, that President Obama announced last week will go forward. The administration’s plan to federally manage the electricity system and impose higher energy costs on everyone is bad news for American citizens, the economy, and job creation.

The plan requires states to reduce carbon emissions by nearly one-third from 2005 levels by 2030. States will be left with little choice but to implement a carbon tax, cap-and-trade, or dramatic energy efficiency mandates in order to achieve this target, making this one of the most expensive EPA regulations ever.

The administration says the rule is necessary to reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change. But carbon emissions have already dropped by 10 percent since 2005. This development is largely because of the country’s increased use of natural gas, as a result of the domestic shale gas revolution.

The Clean Power Plan, however, ignores this development and instead includes mandates and quotas to move from traditional energy to renewable energy forms like wind and solar. The problem is that energy sources must be sustainable and while that may be the case in the future, wind and solar make up less than 5 percent of the electricity supply today.

The transfer from productive energy forms to relatively unproductive forms puts the nation at a competitive disadvantage with other countries in terms of creating economic activity. It also threatens the reshoring of manufacturing jobs that has occurred in recent years as companies are drawn to the U.S. to take advantage of our relatively cheap energy.  For instance, as of June of this year, chemical companies have announced 238 new projects in the U.S., valued at over $145 billion dollars, which will create over 383,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2023.  The administration should not be creating policies that will increase costs to manufacturers and deter this much-needed economic growth.

In fact, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Economic Research Associates estimatethat the Clean Power Plan proposed by EPA last year would cost the economy tens of billions of dollars each year. The president’s version, which requires even larger reductions in carbon emissions, is likely to have an even bigger negative economic impact.

The most obvious victim of the rule will be coal plants, many of which will need to shut down in order for states to come close to reaching EPA’s ambitious targets. This is another step towards the president’s 2008 election promise to “bankrupt” the coal industry, despite the fact that millions depend on coal as their main electricity source.

The rule’s ramifications go beyond just impacting the 80,000 Americans who work in the coal industry and the hundreds of thousands more employed servicing them. By leaving states with seemingly no other options than to try and transfer to relatively unproductive energy sources, this rule will jack up the price of electricity – by double-digits in NERA’s estimate.

Given that almost everyone pays for electricity – both directly and indirectly (as an input in other products) – this rule will hit the wallet of nearly every American. And because the economically disadvantaged spend around three times the percent of their incomes on energy as the rich, the law will disproportionately hurt them. So much for the president’s talk of reducing income inequality.

Rather than plowing forward with such a burdensome regulation, the administration and EPA should support the principles behind the reduction in carbon already taking place by allowing energy development to occur under a sensible and transparent regulatory environment.

A flourishing energy sector is a major engine of the economy, providing the country with power, producing hundreds of thousands of good jobs, and keeping the environment clean. The Clean Power Plan is a step backward – moving us farther away from this vision.

Magruder Lyle is vice president of Strategic Initiatives, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and member of the Job Creators Network and its National Women’s Coalition advisory board. Ortiz is the president and CEO of the Job Creators Network. 

See the article here.

The EPA Wants to Trade Your Job for 0.01 Degrees Celsius

Via The Washington Examiner:

For more than a year, energy and utilities experts have been warning that the EPA’s proposed “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) will increase electricity prices and jeopardize the reliability of America’s electric grid. But despite the warnings, President Obama made good recently on a promise to require steep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions.

Under a new mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states are now required to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electricity sector by 32 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2030. Specifically, each state must submit a compliance plan by 2018, with interim targets set for 2022, and final targets in place by 2030.

What is the president aiming to do? His CPP plan will potentially lower global CO2 concentrations by less than 1 percent, and all for a theoretical reduction in temperatures of 0.01 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.

It may sound like a worthwhile goal to some ardent climate alarmists, but the price tag for this new set of rules is stunning. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates the plan’s annual cost at $51 billion in lost GDP and 224,000 jobs lost.

Essentially, President Obama has embarked on a course of replacing reliable, affordable energy with a haphazard experiment in “renewable” energy and the mass transformation of America’s power system.

So how does this play out in the real world?

For starters, the reduction goals are simply not achievable without closing roughly one-third of America’s coal-fired power plants — even though these are the same workhorse power plants that have carried the nation through peak demand during two straight brutal winters. The costs of replacing this needed power will be borne by consumers in the form of significantly higher electricity prices.

Regarding the idealistic vision of embracing “renewable energy,” wind and solar power have proven to be intermittent forms of low-yield power. Today, renewables supply less than 5 percent of electricity generation nationwide. The CPP would impose a nationwide mandate to generate 28 percent of electrical power from solar panels and wind turbines, with about two-thirds of that coming from wind, by 2030.

Accomplishing this would require roughly 500 gigawatts of wind-powered generating capacity. Noting that a large wind turbine produces roughly four megawatts of power, this would mean the construction of not only 125,000 giant new windmills but also hundreds of additional gigawatts through conventional plants (to serve as backup reserves for windless and cloudy days.)

On top of that, thousands of miles of new high-voltage transmission lines would have to be constructed to carry this new power to where it is needed. Billions and billions of dollars will be needed to pay for all of this new infrastructure. Who pays? You guessed it — you and me, in the form of higher electricity bills.

Truthfully, the president’s plan is intended more for show than for actual environmental benefit. Even though China is building one new coal-fired power plant every 10 days, and India and other countries in Asia continue their own plans to vastly increase coal-fired electricity generation, President Obama believes he must impress upon Beijing and the world that America is leading by example — and do so ahead of the Paris climate conference in December.

But replacing reliable, affordable energy with more costly, less reliable sources poses serious consequences for Main Street America. America depends on coal for roughly 40 percent of its power generation, and low-cost coal electricity is the principal source of power in 30 states. The industrial Midwest is particularly reliant on coal, and the greatly increased energy costs posed by the CPP will undoubtedly hurt manufacturers already struggling to compete against subsidized overseas producers.

A study of the new EPA plan suggests that, once the new rules are in place, a family of four could see its home energy bills increase by hundreds of dollars each year. In fact, the economic toll posed by the plan could be even more devastating, according to a report commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC). The EPA rules would reduce GDP by over $2.3 trillion over the next two decades and require the average family to pay $1,225 more for power and gas in 2030. And, by 2035, the NBCC says “cumulative job losses for Blacks will total about 7 million and for Hispanics will total 12 million.”

The implementation of such heavy-handed carbon dioxide regulations will radically alter the entire U.S. electricity sector, jeopardizing the reliability of the electric grid and raising costs on hard-working families, all in the name of reducing global temperatures by a minuscule fraction of a degree. This is not science. This is not prudent economics. Americans must demand the continuation of reliable, affordable energy.

See the article here.

EPA Rule ‘Dangerous Slap in the Face’

Via InForum:

When the Environmental Protection Agency issued its Clean Power Plan earlier this month, Minnkota Power Cooperative and North Dakota’s elected leaders were understandably stunned by the final product. That is because the rule looked nothing like what had been proposed a year earlier. It was much worse for North Dakota utilities and electric consumers.

The outrage has been bipartisan, with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., stating that the rule “is the wrong way to go” and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., referring to it as “dangerous.”

A recent Forum editorial characterized this response as “excessive” and “over the top.” However, in light of significant cost increases electric consumers will likely bear under this plan, and the serious questions surrounding grid reliability, the reaction is anything but excessive.

No notice

Part of the outcry from public officials and utilities is based on the way the plan was developed. In 2014, the EPA told North Dakota that it would require an 11 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 to meet the overall national goal. The federal agency went to great lengths to explain how it studied each state’s unique circumstances and resources. Only a year later, the EPA issued a final rule that requires a 45 percent reduction – more than quadrupling the original proposal. No notice. No discussion. No logical explanation.

State officials in North Dakota are in the unenviable position of developing a plan to meet the second-most stringent carbon standard in the nation. They don’t have long to determine the best path forward. The initial state plan needs to be submitted to the EPA by September 2016 and base-level compliance begins in 2022.

So there is one year to determine how to radically reshape North Dakota’s energy industry and then five years to have it partially implemented. Tough, irrevocable and expensive decisions will need to be made to comply.

Backbone of grid

An initial analysis of the 1,560-page rule indicates that there is no way North Dakota can get to 45 percent without either shutting down some of the state’s coal plants or operating them at drastically reduced levels.

That’s a big problem.

Power plants fueled by lignite coal are the backbone of the region’s electric grid. They run reliably around the clock. And they do so cost-effectively. North Dakota’s utilities have a proven record of developing and implementing technologies that significantly reduce emissions. More than $2 billion in state-of-the-art technology has been installed in recent years to keep our air clean. The result has made North Dakota one of only seven states to meet all of the EPA’s strict federal ambient air quality standards.

Prematurely shutting down plants would strand these substantial investments, meaning consumers will have to pay for the expenses associated with that plant, while paying the additional costs for new power plant assets.

As an industry, we can find new, innovative technology to make strides toward reducing carbon emissions. It just takes time. Unfortunately, the EPA’s plan gives us no time and ties up all investment dollars in building new power plants fueled by a different source. That’s a shame because North Dakota still has 800 years of recoverable coal reserves available.

Wind doesn’t count

Our concern with the rule doesn’t stop at coal. Minnkota’s current investment in wind energy in North Dakota does not count toward the EPA’s standard simply because it was installed before 2012. Nearly 30 percent of our electric generation capacity comes from wind – one of the top percentages among electric cooperatives in the nation. Another 10 percent comes from emissions-free hydropower. No credit is given by the EPA for the prudent, yet significant, investments in these resources.

What does this mean for electric rates in the region? Costs will likely go up significantly for homes, schools, businesses and farms. Just how much remains to be seen. If North Dakota’s economy is to continue thriving as it has in recent years, it will need reliable, low-cost electricity. The Clean Power Plan, as it stands today, puts that in jeopardy.

The Forum editorial suggests that this position qualifies as nothing more than “Chicken Little rhetoric.” The Clean Power Plan is much more than an acorn hitting us on the head. To use the words of Sen. Heitkamp, it’s “a slap in the face” to North Dakota.

McLennan is president and CEO, Minnkota Power Cooperative.

See the article here.

Forbes Forecasts Coal Resurgence Once New Occupant Moves Into White House

Via The West Virginia MetroNews:

The chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media predicts the next occupant of the White House will lead a resurgence in coal if that person is a Republican.

“Coal is coming back,” pledged Steve Forbes during an appearance on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“What’s going to happen in the next few years, especially when we get a new president, is that the economy is going to start to revive again. We’re going to start to do sensible things overseas, so you get the global economy starting to move up again,” Forbes said.

“The extremists don’t like to hear it, but coal is a critical source of energy, so the consumption of coal is going to be moving up again.”

Forbes, a former two-time Republican presidential candidate, was a guest on “Talkline” a day after the federal Environmental Protection Agency proposed new standards designed to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas production.

In part, energy companies will be required to install new technology to meet the standards at future well sites which is something many companies have already indicated they’re doing.

The proposals are one component of a larger Obama Administration goal to reduce methane emissions during oil and gas production by 40 to 45 percent, compared with 2012 levels, before 2025.

“They destroyed the coal industry and they’re determined to destroy gas and oil as well,” Forbes said of the EPA’s methane actions which came just more than a week after new carbon emissions limits, in the form of the Clean Power Plan, were finalized.

“This government, particularly the White House, has the idea that all things like natural gas, oil, coal are bad and so they’re determined to drive them out of existence. Their alternatives are not going to do the job. In fact, in many ways, they are even worse,” Forbes said.

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows a surge in domestic oil and natural gas production during the past decade.

The new methane rules regulating that production will next be posted for public comments and could be finalized next year before President Barack Obama leaves office.

A new administration in 2017 will mean a “new environment” for fossil fuels, according to Forbes.

Though he had no predictions when asked about who will be the next U.S. president, Forbes said it should be a Republican.

“I don’t know yet,” he said of his choice. “I’m still looking over the (Republican) field, but I think most people don’t want a third term of (President) Barack Obama.”

See the article here.

Local View: Five Reasons Nebraska Should Reject the EPA’s Mandate

Via The Journal Star:

The EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” would drastically increase energy costs for all Nebraskans without achieving its stated goal of combating climate change.

Under the plan, the state would have until 2018 to submit an individualized plan to reduce statewide carbon dioxide emissions by 26 percent. Here are five reasons why Nebraska needs to reject this federal mandate:

1. Higher energy prices impose a back-door tax hike on all Nebraskans.

Nebraska’s electric utilities operate under a statutory mandate to provide low-cost and reliable public power. Neighboring Wyoming’s abundant supply of coal has played a significant role in meeting this obligation. As a result, the state’s utilities have invested nearly $4 billion in coal-fired resources since 1990.

The EPA’s mandate would require Nebraska’s transmission infrastructure to undergo significant, costly upgrades to accommodate an unrealistic target for renewable and natural gas production. Nebraska energy ratepayers, who finance the public utility system, will be responsible for paying the bill. Residential rates would increase by 24 percent, costing an additional $3.5 billion for electricity by 2020. As prices increase, ratepayers will pay larger amounts of sales tax on their utility bills as well.

2. Nebraska’s energy and environmental experts have questioned basic assumptions in the EPA’s plan.

The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), which services 86 of Nebraska’s 93 counties, concluded the EPA failed to show an emission limitation which is achievable or adequately demonstrated in the state of Nebraska. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) echoed this concern, stating EPA’s goal for Nebraska contains inaccurate assumptions and unrealistic expectations.

NDEQ also criticized the EPA for not taking into account the state’s significant investment in its existing electric generating units to comply with federal air quality regulations, a cost also borne by ratepayers.

But what about climate change? It turns out the EPA’s national emissions goal would only shave off 1.3 percent of projected global growth in emissions by 2030. At the same time, that growth is projected to increase 23 percent worldwide.

3. Additional renewable generation poses several economic and resource limitations.

State officials also argue the EPA has not considered practical problems with renewable generation across Nebraska. The rule calls for increasing the state’s renewable generation from 4 percent to 11 percent by 2030. According to NPPD, this would require $5 to $8 billion to build 4,000 megawatts of wind generation. Because Nebraska already has significant excess generation, much of the additional wind would need to be exported. NPPD estimated it would need four 345-kilovolt transmission lines approximately 800 miles long to export the surplus wind, which would cost another $4 billion. The utility warned the EPA that the goal is completely unrealistic and unfeasible.

NPPD also argued few export opportunities exist for the state’s utilities. Although Nebraska has an abundance of high wind resources, so do the surrounding states that would serve as potential customers.

4. The potential for blackouts and premature plant closures.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), which is responsible for maintaining the reliability of the U.S. bulk power transmission system, determined the Agency’s timeline was unworkable. Southwest Power Pool, which includes Nebraska’s utilities, said the rule’s aggressive shuttering of coal-fired plants could cause cascading outages and voltage collapses. That’s because the plan takes coal units offline faster than utilities can build new sources of power. Ultimately, the grid cannot remain fully functional and charged without dependable baseload resources to use when renewables are unavailable.

5. The EPA lacks the authority to mandate the plan.

The Clean Air Act only allows the EPA to regulate existing, stationary sources inside the power plant fence line. However, the target reduction goals cannot be met without forcing states to implement measures that occur outside the plant’s fence line. In other words, the federal government can limit emissions from coal and gas plants, but not direct states to restructure their entire electricity system.

For these many reasons, Nebraska should refuse to submit an individualized reduction plan. The upfront capital and transmissions costs are insurmountable and would likely cripple the state’s economy without reducing global carbon emissions. Nebraska should say no to the most expensive environmental regulation in U.S. history.

Jessica Herrmann is director of research for the Platte Institute for Economic Research.

See the article here.

Obama Plan Would Weaken Power Grid

Via The Columbus Dispatch:

The Obama administration and its radical U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decided to fundamentally change our energy grid, putting all Americans at risk (“ Ohio to fight Obama plan curtailing coal plants,” Dispatch article, Aug. 4). The so-called Clean Power Plan will be the most expensive regulation ever imposed on our electric power sector, with a projected price tag of $366 billion or more.

Congress should deal with a decision of this magnitude, not unelected bureaucrats. As a matter of fact, in 2009, the president’s original “cap-and-trade” carbon plan failed in a Harry Reid-controlled Senate.

The plan makes our energy grid vulnerable by increasing the use of less-reliable intermittent fuel sources. Ohio’s own EPA stated during the comment period that officials have serious concerns with what this plan will do to our grid’s reliability.

Families that already are struggling will see double-digit rate increases to their electricity bills, and many could be forced to choose between keeping food on the table and keeping the lights on. Apparently, Obama assumes all Americans have the same deep pockets as his environmentalist campaign donors.

Worse yet is the job loss that Ohio and other states that rely on affordable electricity will face if this plan takes full effect. These aren’t just coal-country jobs, though they will take a hard hit. These jobs will come from any business that uses large amounts of energy. American companies can’t compete in a global market where their energy bills skyrocket while competitors enjoy affordable energy from coal.

The president said this plan would create jobs; unfortunately, those jobs will be overseas.

Americans will see higher electricity bills, massive job loss and grid unreliability for virtually no environmental benefit. By its own data model, the EPA’s plan will have little effect on global climate change.

As we count the days until the 2016 election, we look forward to a robust debate on the future of energy. Coal can provide affordable and reliable energy for the next 250 years. We need an administration that stands for families, not special interest groups.

Finally, we must thank our coal miners, who have been powering America for more than a century. While Obama was announcing this plan, they were hard at work so we all can keep the lights on.

CHRISTIAN R. PALICH

President

Ohio Coal Association

Columbus

See the article here.

Cornyn Op-Ed: New EPA Rules Will Heat Up Texas Utility Bills

Via The Austin American Statesman:

‘The president’s approach – massive, burdensome government mandates – is a recipe for higher energy prices, tighter budgets, and fewer jobs in Texas. That’s simply unacceptable.’

U.S.  Senator John Cornyn

Each year, our sweltering summers are a stark reminder of just how dependent we are on reliable, accessible energy resources. Fortunately, as Texans we are blessed with natural resources that not only make our daily lives more comfortable, but affordable as well.

But now our energy supply and the reasonable rates that accompany them are in jeopardy. Earlier this month President Barack Obama announced a plan that will saddle Texans and our job creators with burdensome regulations, resulting in higher electricity prices for everyone.

Under the new rules handed down by the Environmental Protection Agency, the country must restrict carbon dioxide emissions by almost a third in just 15 years. To force this, states are mandated to submit emissions-reduction plans by 2018. If Texas and other states refuse to comply, the federal government is threatening to do it for them.

Not only is the president’s plan another case in a long line of unilateral mandates from Washington, but the new rules will add significant costs to our electricity providers, which Texans will ultimately see on their monthly bills. The EPA itself predicts that, nationally, compliance costs will be greater than $8 billion by 2030.

And for Texas — a major, and growing, industrial state and the nation’s leader in electricity production — this translates into a job-killing regulatory regime that will disproportionately hurt Texas consumers when our energy needs are only increasing.

With our state’s population growing by more than 1,000 people every day, now is not the time to hamper our electricity supply. Two weeks ago, the state’s grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas system, reported all-time records for hourly demand two days in a row. And then last Monday, the record for electricity demand in the state was broken yet again for the third time in one week. At a time when our energy needs are at an all-time high, President Obama’s plan could shutter nearly 20 power plants in our state alone — amounting to around 15 percent of our state’s total generating capacity. Some power providers simply will not be able to operate under this plan.

The consequences of the president’s new mandates for families and small businesses will be significant; analysts predict double-digit electricity rate-increases in 43 states. And Texas won’t be exempt: One estimate suggests that Texans’ electricity and gas bills could increase by as much as 54 percent. For those on fixed incomes, including seniors, these increases will hit particularly hard, forcing them to spend a greater share of their monthly budgets keeping their homes comfortable, rather than on food and other necessities.

If the rule isn’t rolled back quickly, energy providers will be forced to make decisions that will negatively impact the reliability of the electricity grid and the availability of energy that Texans need.

Fortunately, states are already standing up to the administration’s national energy tax. In fact, 16 states have signed on to a letter urging the EPA to suspend the rules while they are taken up in the courts. In Texas, we have sensible leaders who have vowed to resist this threat to our electricity system. And Congress will play a role as well. Just last week, a key Senate committee passed the Affordable Reliable Electricity Now Act, legislation that would shield states and consumers from these draconian rules.

Texas has a strong track record of sustained economic growth. Our ability to produce affordable and reliable energy for consumers and businesses has been an integral part of our success story; but sound public policy has also played a major role.

The president’s approach — massive, burdensome government mandates — is a recipe for higher energy prices, tighter budgets and fewer jobs in Texas. That’s simply unacceptable.

See the article here.

EPA Targets North Dakota in Final Clean Power Plan

Via The Grand Forks Herald:

GRAND FORKS—When the Environmental Protection Agency issued its Clean Power Plan earlier this month, Minnkota Power Cooperative and North Dakota’s elected leaders were understandably stunned. That’s because the rule looked nothing like what had been proposed just a year earlier.

It was much, much worse for North Dakota utilities and electric consumers.

The outrage has been bipartisan, with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., stating that the rule “is the wrong way to go,” and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., referring to it as “dangerous.”

A recent editorial in The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead characterized these responses as “excessive” and “over the top.” But in light of the significant cost increases electric consumers likely will bear under this plan and the very serious questions surrounding grid reliability, the reaction is anything but excessive.

Part of the outcry from public officials and utilities is based on the way the Clean Power Plan was developed. In 2014, the EPA told North Dakota that the agency would require an 11 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 to meet the overall national goal. The EPA went to great lengths to explain how it studied each state’s unique circumstances and resources.

But only a year later, the EPA issued a final rule that requires a 45 percent reduction—more than quadrupling the original proposal.

No notice. No discussion. No logical explanation.

State officials in North Dakota now are in the unenviable position of developing a plan to meet the second-most stringent carbon standard in the nation. And they don’t have long to determine the best path forward: The initial state plan needs to be submitted to the EPA by September 2016, and base-level compliance begins in 2022.

So, there is one year to determine how to radically reshape North Dakota’s energy industry and then five years to have it partially implemented. Tough, irrevocable and expensive decisions will need to be made to comply.

An initial analysis of the 1,560-page rule indicates that there is no way North Dakota can get to 45 percent without either shutting down some of the state’s coal plants or operating them at drastically reduced levels.

That’s a big problem.

Power plants fueled by lignite coal are the backbone of the region’s electric grid. They run reliably around the clock, and they do so cost-effectively.

North Dakota’s utilities have a proven record of developing and implementing technologies that significantly reduce emissions. More than $2 billion in state-of-the-art technology has been installed in recent years to keep our air clean. The result has made North Dakota one of only seven states to meet all of the EPA’s strict federal ambient air quality standards.

Prematurely shutting down plants would strand these substantial investments, meaning consumers will have to pay for the expenses associated with that plant while paying the additional costs for new power plant assets.

As an industry, we can find new, innovative technology to make strides toward reducing carbon emissions. It just takes time. Unfortunately, the EPA’s plan gives us no time and ties up all investment dollars in building new power plants fueled by a different source.

That’s a shame, because North Dakota still has 800 years of recoverable coal reserves available.

Our concern with the rule doesn’t stop at coal. Minnkota’s current investment in wind energy in North Dakota does not count toward the EPA’s standard simply because it was installed before 2012.

Nearly 30 percent of our electric generation capacity comes from wind—one of the top percentages among electric cooperatives in the nation. Another 10 percent comes from emissions-free hydropower.

No credit is given by the EPA for our prudent yet significant investments in these resources.

What does this mean for electric rates in the region? It means costs likely will go up significantly for homes, schools, businesses and farms. Just how much remains to be seen.

If North Dakota’s economy is to continue to thrive as it has in recent years, it will need reliable, low-cost electricity. The Clean Power Plan, as it stands today, puts that resource in jeopardy.

The Forum editorial board suggests that this position qualifies as nothing more than “Chicken Little rhetoric.” The Clean Power Plan is much more than an acorn hitting us on the head. To use Heitkamp’s words, it’s “a slap in the face” to North Dakota.

See the article here.

Obama’s ‘Clean Power Plan’ Hurts Economy

Via The Hill:

Affordable, dependable energy is crucial to everyone, especially the poor, the elderly, those on fixed incomes, and local institutions like schools and hospitals.  Anything that makes energy more expensive and less dependable should be viewed with disdain.

A case in point is a slightly revised version of EPA’s 111(d) Rule, better known as the Clean Power Plan, that President Obama announced last week will go forward. The administration’s plan to federally manage the electricity system and impose higher energy costs on everyone is bad news for American citizens, the economy, and job creation.

The plan requires states to reduce carbon emissions by nearly one-third from 2005 levels by 2030. States will be left with little choice but to implement a carbon tax, cap-and-trade, or dramatic energy efficiency mandates in order to achieve this target, making this one of the most expensive EPA regulations ever.

The administration says the rule is necessary to reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change. But carbon emissions have already dropped by 10 percent since 2005. This development is largely because of the country’s increased use of natural gas, as a result of the domestic shale gas revolution.

The Clean Power Plan, however, ignores this development and instead includes mandates and quotas to move from traditional energy to renewable energy forms like wind and solar. The problem is that energy sources must be sustainable and while that may be the case in the future, wind and solar make up less than 5 percent of the electricity supply today.

The transfer from productive energy forms to relatively unproductive forms puts the nation at a competitive disadvantage with other countries in terms of creating economic activity. It also threatens the reshoring of manufacturing jobs that has occurred in recent years as companies are drawn to the U.S. to take advantage of our relatively cheap energy.  For instance, as of June of this year, chemical companies have announced 238 new projects in the U.S., valued at over $145 billion dollars, which will create over 383,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2023.  The administration should not be creating policies that will increase costs to manufacturers and deter this much-needed economic growth.

In fact, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Economic Research Associates estimatethat the Clean Power Plan proposed by EPA last year would cost the economy tens of billions of dollars each year. The president’s version, which requires even larger reductions in carbon emissions, is likely to have an even bigger negative economic impact.

The most obvious victim of the rule will be coal plants, many of which will need to shut down in order for states to come close to reaching EPA’s ambitious targets. This is another step towards the president’s 2008 election promise to “bankrupt” the coal industry, despite the fact that millions depend on coal as their main electricity source.

The rule’s ramifications go beyond just impacting the 80,000 Americans who work in the coal industry and the hundreds of thousands more employed servicing them. By leaving states with seemingly no other options than to try and transfer to relatively unproductive energy sources, this rule will jack up the price of electricity – by double-digits in NERA’s estimate.

Given that almost everyone pays for electricity – both directly and indirectly (as an input in other products) – this rule will hit the wallet of nearly every American. And because the economically disadvantaged spend around three times the percent of their incomes on energy as the rich, the law will disproportionately hurt them. So much for the president’s talk of reducing income inequality.

Rather than plowing forward with such a burdensome regulation, the administration and EPA should support the principles behind the reduction in carbon already taking place by allowing energy development to occur under a sensible and transparent regulatory environment.

A flourishing energy sector is a major engine of the economy, providing the country with power, producing hundreds of thousands of good jobs, and keeping the environment clean. The Clean Power Plan is a step backward – moving us farther away from this vision.

Magruder Lyle is vice president of Strategic Initiatives, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and member of the Job Creators Network and its National Women’s Coalition advisory board. Ortiz is the president and CEO of the Job Creators Network. 

See the article here.

Obama’s War on Coal Makes for Strange Bedfellows

Via The Indianapolis Star:

Time for a pop quiz: What do Gary’s Democratic mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson, Indiana’s Democratic U.S. senator, Joe Donnelly, and the state’s Republican governor, Mike Pence, have in common?

The answer: Each has recently voiced strong opposition to new EPA regulations that will, in the words of Freeman-Wilson, “harm our businesses, the workers they employ and the families they represent. … This would impair economic recovery in a city that has long trailed the rest of the country.”

Wait, the liberal mayor of a key Democratic stronghold really made that statement? Yes, she did.

Well, then, what about slightly left of center Joe Donnelly? The “EPA had an opportunity to encourage Indiana to continue to innovate and diversify our energy portfolio in a way that was good for our environment and good for Indiana’s economy,” the Democrat said in a statement released by his office this week. “The final rule, however, completely missed the mark.”

Harm our businesses. Impair economic recovery. Completely missed the mark.

Fine, but surely Mike Pence’s top challengers to the Iron Throne — Democrats John Gregg and Glenda Ritz — have pledged to boldly lead Indiana off the top of Coal Mountain? Perhaps some day they will. But so far on this issue, they’ve have been as quiet as a monk in a coma.

Which tells us a lot about the too-far, too-fast reach of the Obama administration’s regulations.

To be certain, not even Mike “Ebenezer” Pence wants your children to drink coal-dust tea and breathe yellow air. Instead, what the governor and his team are striving to find is a balance between the need to continue to improve Indiana’s environment — and, for the record, we’ve actually made great progress on that in recent decades — and the ongoing struggle to retain and grow jobs in the most manufacturing-intensive state in the nation.

It’s not an easy path to navigate. And I wish more people on the left would, as Donnelly and Freeman-Wilson have, acknowledge that.

Far too often, environmental critics pretend that energy production can somehow be decoupled from job creation. Although that may be somewhat true in the Silicon Valley, it’s not the case in the White River Valley, where the electricity-ravenous manufacturing sector is hypersensitive to higher energy costs.

It’s contradictory then to decry the recession-induced decline in incomes and the rise in child poverty in our state and at the same time champion aggressive federal rules that would recklessly undercut Indiana’s ability to create manufacturing jobs, the kind that tend to pay family-sustaining wages.

But are Obama’s sink-the-coal-barge orders really that tough?

According to a New York Times report this week, the EPA plan “could effectively end domestic demand for coal.” That’s because the new rules will “probably lead to the closing of hundreds of coal-fired power plants.”

And all of that “ending and closing” would happen in 15 years or less.

That’s a fast transition — the kind that could easily undercut the manufacturing sector’s growth — for a state that for now is admittedly much too-dependent on burning coal to generate electricity.

I’m not saying that you’ll get my coal shovel only by prying it from my cold, dead hands. I am saying that one-size fits-all rules handed down by Washington bureaucrats may well leave us feeling as sad as a poor boy at the prom whose date didn’t show. Give us a minute, please.

One day coal likely will be a relic from the past. And in time, wind, solar and other clean energy sources may well propel us to new heights.

But we’re not there yet, and the long transition to that new day needs to be carefully managed. Ignoring that reality by pushing too hard could cause a lot of pain for a lot of hard-working Hoosiers.

See the article here.

THUNE: The Obama EPA Strikes Again

Via The Rapid City Journal:

If there is one thing for which the Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can be counted on, it is the repeated issuance of rules and regulations that stifle growth and make life harder and more costly for American families and businesses. The agency, stocked with a seemingly endless amount of red tape, lived up to its reputation earlier this month when it approved the final rule of the so-called “Clean Power Plan,” which could be more accurately described as a backdoor national energy tax.

This national energy tax is unwelcome news for South Dakota consumers because it will hurt jobs, cause costs to skyrocket, and threaten our grid reliability. South Dakota is an energy-intense state – we have cold winters and hot summers. As a result, South Dakota families spend a high share of their income on energy costs. While consumers across the state are likely to feel the pain from this burdensome new regulation, it is low-income families and seniors living on fixed incomes who will be hit the hardest. Many families are already finding it difficult to make ends meet. Higher energy costs – and the resulting costs that will be added to existing products and services – will only make that struggle more problematic.

The EPA’s rule will require a 32 percent across-the-board reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. Such a dramatic rate reduction will target the heart of America’s affordable and reliable coal generation. South Dakota’s state reduction target is 47 percent, which is one of the highest in the country and far exceeds the national average.

For the Big Stone Plant, which is South Dakota’s only major coal-fired electric generating unit and nearing completion of a $384 million environmental upgrade, the dust has yet to settle on existing regulations that the EPA has piled on it, including Regional Haze and Utility MACT. Despite the Big Stone Plant soon becoming one of the cleanest plants in the country, the EPA’s latest set of rules will threaten the plant’s multi-million dollar investment. In order to recoup this investment, it may be forced to pass its costs onto ratepayers.

In January, I wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on the agency to think twice about the impact their D.C.-based rule-making process would have on South Dakotans halfway across the country. I urged Administrator McCarthy to abandon these rules, or at the very least, reconsider South Dakota’s emission reduction target to more accurately reflect our existing energy portfolio and the investments utility companies and ratepayers have already made in efficiency upgrades. Not only did the EPA move forward with these rules anyway, but South Dakota’s emission reduction target actually increased in the final rule.

I have said it before: Rule-makers in Washington’s concrete jungle, whether intentionally or unintentionally, force one-size-fits-all rules that oftentimes have a devastating impact on agriculture producers, homeowners, and small businesses across the country. With its national energy tax, the Obama EPA has struck again. I will continue to do all I can to see that this ill-conceived rule is reversed.

See the article here.

Poll Shows Colorado Opposition to Clean Power Plan

Via The Complete Colorado: 

Coloradans oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan when it comes to increases in electricity bills, effects on minority communities, and negligible effects on global temperatures or carbon emissions, a poll conducted by Magellan Strategies found. The poll was commissioned by the free market think tank, the Independence Institute.*

Clear majorities of Colorado registered voters also rated the state’s environmental quality as very good to excellent and believe that federal regulations hurt more than help the environment, with those surveyed giving the state the nod over Washington D.C. when it comes to trust over environmental regulations.

The EPA released the finalized Clean Power Plan rule with differing state target levels on August 3. Colorado must reduce its carbon output by more than 40 percent by 2030, according to the agency.

The poll was conducted August 9-10th and found those surveyed more likely to oppose the EPA’s controversial Clean Power Plan if the rule resulted in electricity bill hikes, 59 to 33 percent.

Fifty-five percent said they would oppose the plan if it meant spiking poverty rates in black and Hispanic communities by 23 and 26 percent, as a recent study by the National Black Chamber of Commerce concluded.

Respondents also opposed the plan when it came to the core environmental impacts projected by the agency—a 0.02 degrees Celsius reduction in global temperatures and no notable impact on carbon emissions. Fifty-one percent said the promised temperature reduction would make them more likely to oppose the finalized rule, while 58 percent said that the Clean Power Plan’s non-existent impact on carbon emissions would do the same.

Finally, 63 percent said that a combination of raised electricity rates and a lack of discernible impact on carbon—one of the key reasons for the plan in the first place—would make them oppose the finalized rule.

While Colorado’s Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman, has not weighed in on whether the state could join a multi-state lawsuit against the EPA over the Clean Power Plan (she has said it is on the table), a 53 to 37 percent majority favored the state joining at least 16 other states in the suit.

Nearly 6 in 10 said the state should wait to comply—not move forward as Governor John Hickenlooper has directed—on drawing up a state implementation plan for the Clean Power Plan.

Nearly half said that they would be more likely to support a plan if the state of Colorado determined the cost of compliance before that plan became law.

When it comes to environmental regulation and quality, Coloradans clearly preferred the regulators in Denver to those in Washington, D.C.

The State of Colorado does a better job regulating for a clean environment 37 to 5 percent over federal regulators. Twenty-seven percent said both state and federal agencies handled the job equally well, with nearly one in five saying that neither has done particularly well in this area.

“The Clean Power Plan would completely usurp the state’s long-held authority to oversee its retail electricity market, and would instead place all of Colorado’s energy decisions under the thumb of the EPA. This should trouble Coloradans, insofar as the poll demonstrates their strong opinion that local control leads to better outcomes,” said William Yeatman, a senior fellow in environmental and energy policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

In fact, 65 percent of Coloradans give the state high marks for environmental quality, with 44 percent calling it “very good” and another 21 percent giving the Centennial state an “excellent” rating. Just nine percent deemed it “unsatisfactory.”

Fifty-two percent of those interviewed thought that federally imposed environmental regulations hurt the environment, with 35 percent saying Washington D.C.’s intervention helped.

The EPA has come under increased scrutiny in recent days due to a spill of toxic metals and other environmental contaminants triggered by the agency’s activities along the Animas River in southwest Colorado.

A joint poll conducted in late July and released last week by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry and the National Association of Manufacturers found 76 percent of Colorado registered voters rated local air quality as “excellent” or “good.”

Only 18 percent said that the federal government should have a bigger say in air quality regulations, with 77 percent wanting local and state officials to handle those decisions, according to the poll.

Fifty-seven percent of Coloradans are more concerned about “less economic growth and job opportunities caused by regulations” than “lower air quality caused by pollution,” at just 30 percent.

Large majorities believe that more strict federal air quality regulations would lead to an increase in taxes (77 percent), make it harder for local business to grow and to start new businesses (62 percent), and increase the costs of goods and services (76 percent).

Just 34 percent of those surveyed in the CACI/NAM poll were willing to accept less economic growth in return for stricter federal air quality regulations.

The partisan split of registered voters in the Magellan survey was 31 percent Republican, 30 percent Democrat, and 39 percent independent or unaffiliated. Fifty-two percent of the respondents were women.

The poll was conducted August 9-10th, with 730 registered voters in the state of Colorado participating. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.63%.

*Disclosure: The author of this piece is employed by the Independence Institute.

See the article here.

The EPA Plan and the High Cost of Symbolism

Via The Independent Record:

Montanans better prepare for a tighter monthly budget, because if President Obama has his way, the electricity running through your home is about to get much more expensive.

On Aug. 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a 1,560 page regulation called the “Clean Power Plan;” a convoluted “administrative rule” aimed at reducing carbon emissions generated by power plants. Though the rule was crafted without any input from the U.S. House or Senate, the Obama administration lauds it as one of the single most important policy accomplishments in history — a symbol of progress for the entire world to see and follow. But, it is foolish to think that such symbolism doesn’t come at a cost, and arrogant to suggest other countries will follow our “noble purpose.” This is the same misguided philosophy that led to calls for America to unilaterally disarm during the Cold War and in this case, would lead to the degradation of our economic security.

Consider what the Clean Power Plan is expected to cost ratepayers across the country once fully implemented. The EPA itself admits that the plan comes with an $8 billion price tag every year by 2030 just in compliance costs. That is more than any other rule ever promulgated under the Clean Air Act. Independent analyses of the rule expects the cost to be much higher than the EPA estimate, and that doesn’t even include the thousands of lost high-paying jobs and millions lost in states’ tax revenue.

Now consider what the Clean Power Plan aims to do right here in our state.

Montana has one of the most strict compliance requirements in the country under the final version of the rule, with the EPA mandating that we reduce our carbon emissions rate from power production 47 percent by 2030. The cost of equipment to achieve such a steep reduction will significantly raise your monthly electrical bill. Most estimates suggest that we can expect to see a double-digit percentage increase in our electricity rates, amounting to hundreds of dollars each year added to the average utility bill. That means that thousands of Montana households who already struggle to keep the lights on must make a choice between buying food and heating their home.

Such a costly regulation demands an objective, dispassionate and scientific cost/benefit analysis. In the case of the Clean Power Plan, the stated objective of Obama administration is to reduce global carbon emissions created by humans. Here is where the EPA’s logic falls far short of reality.

Nearly every analysis done of the Clean Power Plan since it was first proposed over a year ago, including the EPA’s own analysis, conclude that even full implementation will do very little to lower total global carbon emissions (a reduction of less than 2 percent), reducing global temperature by a nearly immeasurable amount. So we have to ask ourselves: Is it really worth destroying our economy just to make a purely symbolic statement to the rest of the world?

It is quite apparent that this rule not only fails to achieve its goal of significantly reducing global carbon emissions, it also fails to demonstrate that it is meant as anything more than a slap in the face to the president’s political opposition. And Mr. Obama has again abused his executive authority by denying Congress any input on his “regulatory rule.”

Our state leaders must push back against this administration’s complete disregard for states rights, and the burden they seek to impose on the American people. We must fight for rational public policy, crafted in concert with the states, making our country stronger, rather than more vulnerable. It is time for the states to stand together and say “enough” to the continued overreach of the federal government.

Brad Johnson, R-Helena, is the former Montana Secretary of State, and currently serves as Chairman of the Montana Public Service Commission.

See the article here.

EPA Mandates on Carbon Emissions Should be Challenged

Via The Colorado Statesman: 

On Aug. 3 the Obama administration declared war on the Colorado economy. In the name of saving the planet from “climate change,” Coloradans will be required to pay sharply higher utility bills while restructuring our power generation plants to implement the costly – and likely unlawful – federal mandates for lower carbon emissions.

Under this EPA mandate, by 2030 Colorado must lower CO2 emissions from power plants by 40.5 percent. Meeting that goal will supposedly help reduce global warming. Yet, by EPA’s own statements, if the plan is fully successful, by 2030 it will reduce global warming by a whopping .015 degrees centigrade — that’s point zero one five — less than two one-hundredths of one percent.

Colorado consumers and the Colorado economy are going to pay a very high price for this infinitesimal change in global temperatures. Does this make sense?

The question facing the state’s lawmakers is how to oppose or scale back these ridiculous EPA mandates without help from Gov. Hickenlooper, who has welcomed these new federal mandates with open arms. “We will obey federal law,” the governor says.

That’s a nice sound bite for the evening news, but the governor wants Coloradans to ignore a question Republicans want answered. Before we aim a wrecking ball at the state’s electric power grid, we want to know who gave EPA authority to promulgate those rules in the first place?

Three state agency heads sent an eight-page letter to EPA last December listing many concerns and suggesting changes. Yet, about the only material change in the final rules favorable to Colorado is a two-year extension of the due date for the “interim goal” from 2020 to 2022. In fact, while 25 other states had their CO2 emission goals reduced, EPA raised Colorado’s 2030 goal from a 35 percent reduction to 40.5 percent reduction!

White House and EPA statements claiming the EPA plan will both stimulate economic growth and lower consumer utility bills are a joke. Experts outside the government say the EPA mandates will raise utility rates by 12 to 17 percent over the next decade, and the increase might be greater in Colorado. That’s not what our economy needs when so many are still struggling to recover from the Great Recession.

There is one other giant fly in the EPA ointment. According to many legal experts, Congress did not give EPA the power to derive environmental emission guidelines based on its assumptions about how a state’s electricity grid might work if they were in control. EPA’s scheme exceeds its authority in the Clean Air Act and violates the Federal Power Act. It also arguably violates the U.S. Constitution.

Sixteen state attorneys general have announced a lawsuit against the EPA, calling the agency’s “Clean Power Plan” both unlawful and a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers, due process and 10th Amendment protections.

Coloradans have seen this kind of federal government arrogance before. We see it in the new “Waters of the United States” rules issued by the EPA in June. Attorney General Coffman has joined a multi-state lawsuit challenging those rules.

Fundamental questions on EPA’s legal authority should be resolved in federal court before Colorado undertakes the costly process of developing a state plan for meeting EPA’s interim and long-term emission standards. However, there is a lot the state legislature can do while waiting for federal courts to rein in the EPA.

New legislation is needed to strengthen the role and mission of the state Public Utilities Commission in responding to this federal mandate. The PUC should be given a larger role in protecting utility ratepayers and the safety and security of the power grid.

Legislative committees also can hold oversight hearings to hold state agencies accountable. We can hope the governor will join us in seeking answers to serious questions instead of looking and sounding like an EPA cheerleader.

State Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Steamboat Springs, represents District 8. He is majority whip, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, vice-chair of the Capitol Development Committee and a member of the Agriculture; Natural Resources, & Energy; Business, Labor, & Technology committees.

See the article here.

New EPA Rules Anything But Reasonable

Via WisOpinion.com:

By Mike Kuglitsch

The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com. 

It’s hard to understand how anyone can conclude reasonableness when evaluating President Obama’s new plan to supposedly rein in carbon emissions. The so-called Clean Power Plan is poised to dramatically increase electricity costs in Wisconsin while doing little to nothing to actually reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Governor Walker has already made clear that he is going to fight to protect Wisconsin’s economy and, thankfully, Attorney General Brad Schimel has been on the front lines of challenging this measure that may pose disastrous consequences for Wisconsin families and businesses. 

The EPA’s plan has faced particularly widespread opposition from some of the country’s leading legal experts, including the president’s former Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe. Critics contend the proposal not only tramples the letter of the law, but also sets a dangerous precedent for executive rulemaking, as the agency does not possess the authority to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act, precisely what these regulations seek to do. 

Here in Wisconsin, the EPA’s regulations will cripple our economy and commercial activity and leave many families struggling to afford the higher cost of electricity. Over half of our state’s electricity is generated from coal, an abundant and low-cost resource that EPA’s proposal effectively seeks to eradicate. Since lower electricity rates lead to a more sound economy, shifting away from coal and increasing our use of these other resources spells bad news for Wisconsinites, from corner offices to cul-de-sacs. The EPA’s devastating policies will leave Wisconsin and this country economically hamstrung. It is estimated that Wisconsin alone could lose over 21,000 jobs by the time this new power plan is fully implemented. 

It is estimated that under the EPA’s plan, Wisconsin ratepayers will be left facing electricity rate increases as high as 17 percent. The Public Service Commission is estimating the proposal could cost $13 billion over the next 15 years. For businesses, that means cutbacks, often in the form of shedding jobs or scaling back operations and output. With less affordable electricity, Wisconsin’s manufacturing, agricultural and burgeoning technology industries that sustain our economy could be thrown into a tailspin. Families, especially the poor, will likewise be forced to make difficult decisions about their spending in order to afford their power bills each month, which may include sacrificing other vital needs just to keep the lights on. 

President Obama is correct in saying that no one country can solve climate issues. Unfortunately, countries across the world will not be using the same costly standards that we use here. While the United States attempts to make microscopic environmental victories in the upcoming years, countries like China, India, and Mexico stand to benefit in the global market place. These countries will continue to add coal fired power plants to their fleets and import jobs out of the United States. 

Critics’ repeated warnings about these potential consequences have fallen on deaf ears in the Obama Administration. With divisive partisanship handicapping any meaningful effort to overturn these rules on Capitol Hill, it is up to individual states to lead the charge. Ordering states like ours to completely overhaul electricity production is in itself illegal; but doing so in the name of a political agenda, and with complete disregard for the impact it will have on hard-working Americans, is infuriating. 

— Mike Kuglitsch, R-New Berlin, represents the 84th Assembly District. He is chairman of the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities.

See the article here.

Winners and Losers in Obama’s New Plan to Limit Greenhouse Gas

Via The Loudon Times-Mirror:

WASHINGTON — Calling it a moral obligation, President Barack Obama unveiled the final version of his plan to dramatically cut emissions from U.S. power plants, as he warned anew that climate change will threaten future generations if left unchecked.

Touting the plan at a White House event Aug. 3, Obama said the unprecedented carbon dioxide limits are the “the single most important step” America has ever taken to fight climate change. He warned that because the problem is so large, if the world doesn’t get it right quickly, it may become impossible to reverse, leaving populations unable to adapt.

“There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change,” Obama said.

The final version of Obama’s plan imposes stricter carbon dioxide limits on states than was previously expected: a 32 percent cut by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, the White House said. Obama’s proposed version last year called only for a 30 percent cut.

It also gives states an additional two years — until 2022 — to comply, yielding to complaints that the original deadline was too soon. States will also have an additional year to submit their implementation plans to Washington.

Obama was joined in the East Room by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and by parents of asthma patients. The Obama administration has sought to draw a connection between climate change and increased respiratory illness in vulnerable populations.

A look at potential winners and losers in Obama’s final plan:

WINNERS:

Environmentalists

To the delight of environmental groups, Obama tightened the emissions requirements in his final plan. That means power plants will have to attain an even lower level of carbon dioxide pollution to be in compliance. Obama’s proposal from last year set the target as a 30 percent nationwide cut by 2030, compared to the levels in 2005. His revamped plan calls for a 32 percent cut in the same time period.

Left unchanged is Obama’s overall goal for U.S. emissions cuts from all sources of pollution, including cars and trucks. As the U.S. commitment to a major global climate treaty that Obama is championing, the U.S. committed to cutting its emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2030, compared to 2005.

Procrastinating states

Many of the complaints directed at Obama’s plan over the last year centered on the amount of time states would have to figure out how to meet their targets. Plans for how states will comply are technically due next year, but there’s no penalty to asking for a two-year extension, so most states are expected to delay. Under the earlier plan, the rock-bottom deadline was 2017, but that’s being pushed back to 2018.

And while states previously had until 2020 to achieve their targets, they’ll now have an extra two years — until 2022.

Renewable energy

Obama’s revised plan relies more heavily on renewable energy sources like wind and solar replacing dirtier coal-fired power plants. Obama now wants the U.S. to get 28 percent of its power from renewables by 2030, compared to 22 percent in his earlier proposal.

In a new element, the administration now intends to offer pollution credits to states that drive up renewable energy generation in 2020 and 2021 ahead of the compliance deadline. States that invest early in wind and solar can store away those credits to offset pollution emitted after the compliance period starts in 2022.

LOSERS:

You power bill

Although the administration predicts the plan will actually lower the average U.S. energy bill by almost $85 in 2030, companies that produce and distribute electricity aren’t buying it. The savings come from increased use of wind, power and hydro plants, which operate at a cost of close to zero after they’re installed. But acquiring and constructing renewable power sources is still very costly, making it less cost effective in many circumstances.

The National Association of Manufacturers, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the National Mining Association, the American Energy Alliance and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association all predicted the rule would drive electricity bills up.

Natural gas

The earlier version of Obama’s plan sought to accelerate the ongoing shift from coal-fired power to natural gas, which emits far less carbon dioxide. But the final rule aims to keep the share of natural gas in the nation’s power mix the same as it is now.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said government estimates show renewable energy has ticked upward even since the rule was proposed last year, but that natural gas remained an important part of the U.S. energy mix.

Energy efficiency

Under the revamped plan, state energy efficiency efforts are no longer factored into the individualized reduction targets being assigned to each state. In other words, what states are already doing to reduce energy demand won’t be included in their baseline the way that other measures, like replacing coal plants with cleaner sources, will be. That means some states could face more stringent targets despite their efforts in the past to cut down on electricity use.

But states will still be able to get credit for energy efficiency programs when it comes to meeting their targets in 2022. The revised power plant rule also offers polluting credits to states that deploy energy efficiency programs in poorer communities.

See the article here.

Missouri Should Oppose Obama’s “Clean Power Plan”

Via The Missouri Times:

By Senator David Sater, R-Cassville

Early this week, President Obama announced his plans to use the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose more government control and regulation over U.S. carbon emissions. In a 1,560-page EPA rule, Obama is requiring power plants to reduce emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 while forcing each state to meet different emission targets by a certain date. Those emission cuts range from an 11% reduction in North Dakota to 72% in Washington. Missouri would be forced to reduce its carbon emissions from 67.3 million tons in 2020 to 55.4 million tons in 2030, a decrease of almost 18 percent.

There are two options (if you can call them options) for states to comply with the new regulations. Either states can voluntarily develop state plans that meet arbitrary EPA assumptions or standards or face an ultimatum – the federal government will impose a plan on you.

The first option is designed so that states will share in the blame when electricity rates soar, jobs are lost (even EPA analysts agree it will result in job losses), and the energy grid is put at risk. Any which way you slice it, electric rates will go up. NERA Economic Consulting estimates that the Clean Power Plan will cost $366 billion and bring double-digit electricity-rate increases to 43 states. On top of that, many regulators are warning that the plan could destabilize the national electric grid by forcing many power plants to close before new ones can be built. Those new power plants would have to be built with carbon capture and storage, technology that is not fully developed or cost-effective.

The fact is, stable energy policy is essential to our economy. Fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, provided 87 percent of America’s energy needs in the past decade and have been the overwhelming supplier for over a century. Missouri relies on coal for nearly 83 percent of its electricity needs, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. A plan that requires us to change our source of power so drastically and so quickly will be devastating to our economy. The Heritage Foundation estimates that electricity prices will increase by an average of 17 percent between 2017 and 2031 if Obama and the EPA have their way. Nick Loris, an energy economist also with the Heritage Foundation,wrote that the “cumulative economic impact of higher energy prices will be hundreds of thousands of jobs lost and more than $2.5 trillion in lost economic growth.”

Obama’s new regulation comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court flatly rejected the EPA’s 2012 energy rule to reduce mercury and other emissions. In Michigan v. EPA, the court said the Obama Administration and the EPA failed its legal obligation to compare the cost of its mercury standards with the benefits. In other words, the EPA didn’t care how much it would cost the American people, they were going to impose their regulations regardless. I don’t always agree with the Supreme Court, especially not lately, but they got this one right.

The situation puts Missouri in a tough spot. Do we develop our own state plan and be complicit in the federal government raising our energy prices and killing Missouri jobs? I don’t know about you but I am tired of this relationship between the states and the federal government where we have to ask for permission to do something the Constitution already gives us the authority to do or we are forced into doing something through threats of withheld funding or fines. If we go along with the “Clean Power Plan” the EPA or administration could change it at their whim and put all authority in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. Our other option is a better one. The governors of Oklahoma, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Indiana, Texas and Louisiana have already refused to submit state plans of compliance with the “Clean Power Plan” and 13 states are challenging the plan in federal court as unconstitutional. Needless to say, the plan’s prospects are far from certain. Missouri should join this lawsuit and refuse to go along with the plan. Doing otherwise is guaranteed to hurt our economy, put Missourians out of work, and raise our electric rates. That combination will do nothing but hurt Missouri.

See the article here.

EPA’s Global Warming Rule Will Kill Wisconsin Jobs

Via The Star:

The federal Environmental Protection Agency issued its final global warming rule for coal-fired power plants recently. If allowed to go into effect, the rule will kill Wisconsin factory jobs and force families to pay more for their electricity.

There are many reasons why the EPA’s rule is bad for Wisconsin and our country, but for the sake of brevity, I have boiled the list down to the top five reasons it will be a self-inflicted wound on our economy and global competitiveness:

1. The rule will be extremely costly. Previous estimates from state utility regulators predicted total costs ranging from $3.4 billion to $13.4 billion for Wisconsin power plants. The final rule actually requires stricter emission targets for Wisconsin, thus driving energy prices higher. These higher costs will be paid by every family and business in Wisconsin that uses electricity.

2. The rule will kill middle-class jobs. Manufacturers cannot compete in domestic or global markets unless they have access to affordable and reliable energy. The EPA rule will raise electricity prices, driving factory jobs overseas to countries such as China.

Wisconsin will be hit especially hard because manufacturing is our No. 1 business sector. The unfortunate reality is that thousands of middle-class factory workers will pay the price for these regulations with their jobs.

3. The rule is ineffective. Regardless of what you think about the science of global warming, it’s clear the EPA rule will not have a meaningful impact on global temperature.

An analysis of the prior version of the rule, using the EPA’s own data and assumptions, predicted it would reduce the average global temperature by a minuscule 0.016 degrees Fahrenheit. It also would reduce sea levels by 0.01 inches, or about the thickness of three sheets of paper. Despite its oppressive economic cost, the rule will produce negligible climate benefits – it’s all pain and no gain.

4. The rule sets poor energy policy. The United States is blessed with abundant energy, yet the EPA rule sets us on the path to energy scarcity – and the higher costs that accompany it.

Our country has the largest coal reserves in the world – more than 250 years of supply – but the EPA rule seeks to cut ourselves off from this abundant, affordable and domestic source of energy. Instead of using coal to our strategic energy advantage against competitors such as China, President Barack Obama and his EPA are making coal economically untenable.

5. The rule is illegal. The EPA goes far beyond the authority granted by Congress to regulate power plants, and instead seeks to regulate activity “outside the fence” of these facilities.

For example, the rule seeks to impose economy-wide energy efficiency and renewable energy mandates that EPA has no authority to impose. The new rule also contemplates state and regional cap-and-trade emission schemes – an idea specifically rejected by Congress on a bipartisan basis. How could the EPA possibly have authority that Congress deliberately opted against giving it?

Of course we all want to breathe clean air, but we don’t need to destroy our economy with misguided global warming rules to get there. In reality, power plant emissions that cause smog and soot have been reduced by 75 percent and 82 percent respectively since 1980.

Quite simply, the EPA’s new global warming rule is an economic disaster waiting to happen. The unelected Washington D.C. bureaucrats are steering our economy on a collision course with unaffordable energy and lost jobs. Our only hope is for federal courts to steer us back on track by invalidating this costly rule.

Founded in 1911, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) is the state’s chamber of commerce and largest business trade association representing more than 3,800 employers of every size and from every sector of the economy. Manley is vice president of government relations for WMC.

See the article here.

Obama’s Climate Plan and Poverty

Via The Wall Street Journal:

President Obama says that critics of his plan to decarbonize the economy are “the special interests and their allies in Congress” repeating “the same stale arguments” about “killing jobs and businesses and freedom.” He adds that “even more cynical, we’ve got critics of this plan who are actually claiming that this will harm minority and low-income communities.”

Is he thinking of critics who work at the Environmental Protection Agency? Perhaps so, because multiple new antipoverty transfer programs are built into the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan. The fine print is there, for anyone who cares to look, 1,317 pages into the rule’s 1,560-page preamble.

The EPA authors are careful to reiterate that “its benefits will greatly exceed its costs.” (Sure.) But then they ever so gingerly observe that “it is also important to ensure that to the extent there are increases in electricity costs, that those do not fall disproportionately on those least able to afford them.”

In particular, the EPA is concerned about “low-income communities, communities of color, and indigenous communities.” The agency orders states “to evaluate the effects of their plans on vulnerable communities and to take the steps necessary to ensure that all communities benefit from the implementation of this rule.” These are the themes of “environmental justice,” the political grievance school that argues for income redistribution to offset the allegedly disproportionate damage to the poor and minorities from pollution.

It is more accurate to say that any economic disparities arise from the rule itself. Regulations that artificially raise energy prices are regressive. By definition the poor—er, low-income community members—spend a larger share of their incomes on fuel and utilities than the well-to-do climate activists of Marin County and Hyde Park.

As energy prices rise, they spill into other basic needs like food, via fertilizer and feed, and housing, via building materials like cement. Everyone ends up with less disposable income and a diminished standard of living, but low-income workers really are worst off.

The EPA thus requires states to set up “financial assistance programs” only for those living near or below the poverty line. As a model other than straight cash subsidies, the EPA cites a Maryland program that offers “free installation of energy conservation materials” such as window insulation and furnace retrofits. Another is New York, which hands out compact florescent lightbulbs and even new refrigerators. The resulting energy efficiency savings, the EPA helpfully notes, are “of particular value to low-income households who can least afford high energy bills.”

At the federal level, the EPA is creating a program that gives twice as large a subsidy for renewable and efficiency projects that are built in inner-city neighborhoods and disadvantaged rural areas. There will be job retraining for laid-off coal miners. The agency also plans to install more solar generation on top of or around public housing. So while it will raise their utility bills, at least the poor will get a complementary photovoltaic panel.

Perhaps it is bad manners to suggest that the poor themselves might prefer higher incomes rather than the EPA’s form of carbon justice. U.S. economic growth is already much slower than it should be, and the new EPA climate-change rule will make it worse by subtracting billions of dollars every year from potential GDP by misallocating capital and undermining business confidence. This will result in few opportunities and smaller wage gains, with damage to the poorest Americans in particular.

For these reasons, a recent study commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce estimates that the EPA plan will increase the black poverty rate to 32% in 2025 from 26% today. Hispanic poverty will rise to 29% from 23%. No fewer than 28 states raised such economic hardships in their comments to the EPA, to no avail.

The contradiction of modern climate liberals is that they promise lower energy bills and a wind-and-solar jobs boom, with zero trade-offs. But then they demand more redistribution to mitigate the economic and human damage that are the real outcome of their policies. Instead of offering to weatherize the homes of the least fortunate, how about trying to increase prosperity?

See the article here.

What’s Next for the EPA’s ‘All pain, No Gain’ Clean Power Plan?

Via The Washington Examiner:

The EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan is an illegal takeover of the electric power production sector and amounts to a national energy tax on all Americans. The administration’s goal is to force states to replace their current mix of low cost, reliable energy fuels with a higher cost mix of renewables that are largely dependent on the weather.

Without the approval of Congress, this new regulation is aimed at reducing “carbon pollution” by 32 percent by 2030. The president is using executive power to impose the rule in order to meet his promise to the United Nations.

States will be under pressure to comply “or else,” once again becoming victims of power-grabbing federal overlords bent on imposing their will on the states regardless of the effect on communities. The bottom-line is that the increased cost of electricity from this rule is estimated to be 12 percent to 17 percent, depending on the state. That means every home, business, church, daycare center, hospital, police and fire station, school and university building and union hall will pay more for electricity.

Many members of Congress oppose the plan, as will the courts. What motivates this kind of environmental zealousness cannot be explained by the immeasurable benefits of this rule (0.018 degree C by 2100). As many industry experts have said, this expensive plan is “all pain for no gain.”

As the American Energy Alliance has said, “States must decide how they should respond to best defend their sovereignty and protect their residents.” It is important to understand that states are not required to submit a state plan and they should not. The EPA is requiring states to voluntarily do things the EPA itself does not have the legal authority to do.

States that file plans to comply with the Clean Power Plan open themselves up to the complete federal takeover of their power grid. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA can fully enforce any state plan submitted to them. Even more significant is the fact that state plans will be vulnerable to “sue and settle” lawsuits by environmental groups who can use the courts to compel the EPA to force the states to comply. These groups, after all, have little interest in the low cost, reliable and abundant energy available from traditional fossil fuels.

States should band together to oppose the rule by joining an Interstate Power Compact (IPC). The compact, once passed into law by state legislatures, allows states to protect themselves against the deeply flawed Clean Power Plan by stating that they will, at most, only submit a state plan within the legal limits of the EPA’s authority to require emission reductions at the power source. Additionally, IPC members agree to petition the federal government to protect them from any EPA-imposed federal plan.

What happens next? Congress has already acted.

A majority of the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Ratepayer Protection Act, limiting EPA’s ability to enforce the plan. The bill extends the rule’s compliance dates pending judicial review, including the dates for submission of state plans, and provides that “no state shall be required to implement a state or federal plan that the state’s governor, in consultation with other relevant state officials, determines would have a significant adverse effect on (i) retail, commercial or industrial ratepayers; or (ii) the reliability of the state’s electricity system.”

The Senate is currently holding hearings on The Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act (ARENA Act), which would also protect ratepayers.

As soon as the final rule is in place (i.e., printed in the Federal Register), it is anticipated that at least 15 states will file suits challenging its constitutionality. Six governors have said their states will not comply and dozens of other states have filed negative comments on the rule.

In the final rule, the Clean Power Plan consists of three buckets (they call them “blocks”) of measures that states must undertake to reduce emissions from coal-fired electrical generation. These requirements are costly and, in some cases, states themselves lack the legal authority to impose the changes. They include reducing the emission rates of coal-fired power generation, replacing coal-fired electrical generation with natural gas, and replacing coal-fired electrical generation with renewables.

Ordinarily the EPA can impose only one of these blocks (Block 1) under the Clean Air Act. Even under Block 1, many state environmental agencies are studying only partial compliance, because fully meeting the EPA’s goal of 6 percent improvement in the heat rate for Block 1 is unrealistic for power plant operators.

The American people are starting to recognize that there is nothing good in this rule. Multiple polls indicate widespread opposition to any plan that raises electricity rates, especially in low income Latino and African-American communities.

The EPA is an overreaching federal agency unbounded by public opinion or congressional oversight that acts recklessly on secret science. It is high time to withdraw the Clean Power Plan rule.

See the article here.

What Will Obama’s Power Plan Do to the Grid?

Via Politico:

Environmentalists cheered last week when President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency issued the country’s first-ever mandatory greenhouse gas standards for power plants.

But an anxious power industry has also been warning: What about reliability? Any major shift in how America makes electricity, especially away from the reliable but high-carbon “baseline capacity” of coal, poses a threat to the crucial national power grid.

How serious is that risk? That’s the question facing FERC, the independent agency that played only a tangential role advising the EPA on its rules, but maintains a core mission of helping consumers get reliable energy services at reasonable costs. In May, all five of FERC’s commissioners urged EPA to give states more time to comply with the Clean Power Plan and also to include additional flexibility safeguards to ensure the country’s lights stay on.

POLITICO senior policy reporter Darren Samuelsohn interviewed Philip Moeller, FERC’s longest-serving commissioner, about the likely impact of the new rule. While Moeller praised EPA for addressing early concerns about maintaining a reliable power supply, he nonetheless warns that the states who are big coal producers and exporters still have “a lot to worry about.” He also sees the outcome of the 2016 presidential election playing a big part in determining how some of the more obstinate states proceed.

Darren Samuelsohn: What’s next for the country’s power grid now that the EPA rule is finished?

Philip Moeller:
 We’ll spend some time analyzing the rule because it’s so long, but the next, I think, critical part is when, assuming the rule survives litigation, the states will have to come up with their plans to comply with the rule, and that’s going to be a massive undertaking.

DS: What do you see as the biggest change coming to the electric grid because of the Clean Power Plan?

PM: We’re going to have state air regulators who are suddenly having a major impact on how the electricity system is designed and how power is produced and how it flows, because they will have a major role in putting together the state plans. I’m sure that they are all fine individuals, but moving from an air regulator to essentially an electricity regulator without a lot of background in it is going to be extremely challenging.

From an actual physics perspective, it kind of depends really on how the infrastructure is built out. If the pipes and wires are built, that will probably allow for greater expansion of renewables as proposed under the final rule, and much more gas capacity that is being used generally for base load, and also to support the renewables when their intermittency comes in and the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining.

We’re going to have a lot of challenges in terms of making sure that the market rules are such that generators that have to respond quickly, particularly gas plants, are compensated not only for the wear and tear on those units, but also in terms of their quick response that will be increasingly necessary as intermittent generation has a greater penetration on the grid.

DS: Did EPA address FERC’s concerns in the earlier draft rule when it comes to electricity reliability?

PM: In many cases, yes. They extended the timeline to 2022. That was certainly helpful. They came up with some type of reliability mechanism which is needing further analysis, but is better than nothing.

DS:
 Why is a longer compliance timeline — it initially was 2020 — so important?

PM: It’s big because almost everybody was concerned that 2020 was just too aggressive… That timeline just didn’t mesh with building pipes and wires… That extra two years will make a difference, but a positive difference, but it would still be extremely challenging, particularly on the transmission side, because even when certain things all line up in the favor of a new line, it can still take five to seven years to build something, and that’s without a lot of significant opposition. The extra years, I think, are greatly appreciated by the folks who actually have to do the work to comply with the regulation.

DS: What are you hearing so far from state regulators?

PM: They’re still digesting the rule, but I’ve certainly met with them hundreds of times over the last year and ​​​a- half, and it kind of breaks down as to whether they have a state that uses coal or not. Those that don’t use coal don’t have really a lot to worry about. Those that do have a lot to worry about. And those states that are particularly exporters have to be very concerned. The importers have to be concerned, too, if they’re importing power that is essentially going to be affected by an exporting state.

DS: Many states will be writing their own implementation plans, but it’s also clear some states — like Indiana, Wisconsin and West Virginia — say they will just let the EPA do it for them instead. What’s the effect on the grid going to be from this disparity?

PM: That’s a great question because we’re not quite sure how it will work. A regional approach would certainly be better. Again, given the interstate nature of the grid, some regions already kind of see themselves in that position. ​​​​​​​Others are looking at it and yet there could be issues with one state taking one approach, the neighboring state taking another approach and there’s just things that need to be really thought through.

DS: Are there any specific regional hotspots you see for potential blackouts because of the Clean Power Plan?

PM: I think it’s too early because of the fact that we have to see how the state plans work together. That’s going to be the real challenge. But again, there’s a potential there that if one state is doing it one way and another state is doing it another way that there could be some issues related to reliability. With enough time, presumably, they can be worked through, but…we have to be cognizant of that potential set of problems.

DS: Are some of the industry predictions about blackouts and higher energy costs as dire as their warnings?

PM: I think it’s a little early, but those areas that are more coal-dependent, that has to be pretty high on the agenda…. Part of the issue related to the Clean Power Plan is it produces winners and losers, and the winners can be gas and renewables, and the losers, generally speaking, coal and the consumers that consume coal power are generally going to be paying higher prices. Those that don’t, their prices may be coming more in line with those other areas, but nevertheless, it’s producing winners and losers, including in the energy industry.

DS: What real-world effects will energy consumers notice ​from the Clean Power Plan?

PM: A​reas that have to shut down coal plants and replace them with new generating units are going to see rate increases because of the very fact that these are going to be significant investments that, in some cases, go directly into rates. Other markets, it’s absorbed by the company in terms of a competitive model. But we’re going to see costs increase.

DS: Sen. Jim Inhofe is warning that the EPA rule will be especially painful for seniors, minorities and low-income people. Do you think that’s right?

PM: Given that electricity is usually a much higher proportion of those folks’ costs, in terms of their income, they have a higher proportion in electric bills, yes, I think that’s fair.

DS: How does uncertainty over the future of the Clean Power Plan — due to the 2016 presidential election and lawsuits — influence what states will be doing in the meantime?

PM: That’s a tough one, because states can either do nothing, fight it in court, but then they face the potential of having a federal implementation plan imposed upon them. Generally speaking, I think most of the states have been at least quietly or more prominently discussing the potential, how they could work together, what some of the tradeoffs are, and so those discussions I think have been relatively productive.  But it’s going to be a long, long discussion and a decision-making process in terms of coming up with a state plan that will be very complicated.

DS: Do you think some of the states will just hang back and wait on implementing the rules until they know who is the next president?

PM: Oh yeah, I think that’s fair. In the meantime, though, some states are going to be very active, some kind of moderately, and some perhaps not doing much at all. But there will be plenty of talk between now and the election in terms of how this impacts various states.

See the article here.

Kentucky Joins in Challenging EPA Power Plant Rules

Via The Charlotte Observer:

Kentucky has joined several other states in a legal challenge against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its power plant regulations.

Attorney General Jack Conway said Tuesday the legal action takes aim at federal overreach that threatens Kentucky’s ability to implement an air quality protection plan that works best for Kentucky.

In May, the EPA told a number of states, including Kentucky, to revise air quality standards regulating emissions during startup, shutdown and malfunction of power plants. Conway says the EPA wants to impose its judgment in regulating air standards.

He warns the likely result would be higher utility bills in Kentucky.

The states have asked a federal appeals court to review the EPA’s rule.

Conway is a Democrat running for governor, and EPA regulations of coal-fired power plants have been a major issue in Kentucky.

See the article here.

 

EPA Rule Would Mean Big Utility Hike for Montana

Via The Great Falls Tribune:

For decades, thanks to the smart management of resources and utilities, Montana’s residents have benefited from some of the lowest energy costs in the nation. But, if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gets its way, those affordable electricity bills will be gone, skyrocketing as much as 25 percent.

Driving this impending threat of higher energy prices is the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, a sweeping emissions reduction proposal that is designed to cut carbon emissions from electric power generation by 30 percent by 2030. Because the plan takes sharpest aim at coal-powered generation, which accounts for more than 50 percent of the state’s electricity, the potential economic damage could be tremendous.

Less coal power in Montana, as well as across the nation, will not only mean less affordable energy but less mining jobs. The double hit of higher electricity prices and a reeling mining industry could very well send the state’s unemployment rate right back to levels not seen since the Great Recession.

Among those likely to be hardest hit by the EPA’s foolhardy plan will be lower income folks and the 20 percent of Montanans over the age of 60. Many seniors depend on Social Security to pay their bills and meet the extra necessities that often come with expanded medical and medication costs.

Representing 7.2 million seniors nationwide, I hear every day their concerns and worries. Living hand-to-mouth on fixed incomes and meager Social Security checks is not what most of them had envisioned for their golden years. It is not uncommon for seniors to silently suffer by skipping meals and medication and keeping their thermostats turned uncomfortably low.

If Gov. Steve Bullock goes along with the EPA’s demands, I fear it will make tough circumstances for many seniors nearly impossible. We need to focus on providing more affordable energy, not less.

While a cleaner energy mix is a laudable goal, sweeping regulation that places the heaviest burden on those that can least afford it is the wrong way forward. The EPA’s plan may help to cut U.S. carbon emissions but our sacrifice — borne out in higher energy prices — will be for not if others don’t follow suit. It’s no secret that we are no longer the world’s largest carbon emitter. China, which uses nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined and whose appetite for energy grows by the hour, now holds that crown. Rising emissions from China and dozens of other developing nations will quickly overwhelm the EPA’s proposed cuts.

The moment has arrived for Bullock to take a stand for the people he represents and tell the EPA no. The EPA’s proposal requires each state to submit a plan for meeting Washington’s carbon reduction targets.

By refusing, Montana can show that its people and their hard work mean more than abstract targets dreamed up by Washington bureaucrats.

Jim Martin of Alexandria, Va., is founder and chairman emeritus of the 60 Plus Association, a group sometimes billed as a conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons.

See the article here.

Indiana “Will Not Comply” With New EPA CO2 Emission Rules

Via The Beaufort Observer:

Are you fed up with high electric bills? Get used to it. They are about to “necessarily skyrocket” as Barack Obama said if the EPA’s new CO2 emission standards are implemented. And if those standards were fully implemented it would have only a tiny, tiny (unmeasurable) impact on global temperatures. So Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence said last week “Indiana will not comply.” Governor McCrory are you paying attention?

Here’s the story from CNSNews.com

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said that “Indiana will not comply” with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed regulations that would for the first time limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants.

The draft regulations, known as the Clean Power Plan, “must be strenuously opposed,” Pence said, characterizing them as “a very serious threat” to the economic well-being of residents and businesses in Indiana, who rely on coal-burning power plants for 84 percent of their electricity.

Pence is one of a handful of Republican governors who are refusing to go along with the Clean Power Plan, one of the centerpieces of President Obama’s climate change agenda.

The plan sets state targets to reduce CO2 emissions from existing power plants in order to comply with Obama’s pledge to cut CO2 emissions nationwide 28 percent by 2025. It gives states one year to submit a State Implementation Plan (SIP) before having one imposed on them by EPA.

“We think the stakes are very high here for Hoosier ratepayers,” Pence said during a conference call with reporters last week hosted by the American Energy Alliance, which opposes the plan.

“Indiana is the number one or number two most dependent states on coal-burning power plants for our electricity. We have one of the most dynamic manufacturing economies in the country, and it is our judgment that this rule as drafted would be very harmful to the vitality of our economy and more importantly, to working families in Indiana and ratepayers across our state.

“So we have every intention of following through on our commitment not to comply,” the governor said.

Click here to go to the original source to read the rest of the story.

 

World Falls In Love With Coal That Obama Is Waging War On

Via Investor’s Business Daily: 

At the very moment President Obama has decided to shutter America’s coal industry in favor of much more expensive and less efficient “renewable energy,” coal use is surging across the globe.

A new study by the prestigious National Academy of Sciences detects an unmistakable “coal renaissance” under way that shows this mineral of fossilized carbon has again become “the most important source of energy-related emissions on the global scale.”

Coal is expanding rapidly “not only in China and India but also across a broad range of developing countries — especially poor, fast-growing countries mainly in Asia,” the study finds.

Why is coal such a popular energy source now? The NAS study explains that many nations are attracted to “(relatively) low coal prices . .. to satisfy their energy needs.” It also finds “the share of coal in the energy mix indeed has grown faster for countries with higher economic growth.”

In sum, using coal is a stepping stone to prosperity. So much for it being a satanic energy source.

Hardly a day passes without evidence that coal is making a major comeback:

• Some 1,200 coal plants are planned across 59 countries, with about three-quarters in China and India, according to the World Resources Institute.

• Coal use around the world has grown about four times faster than renewables, according to the global energy monitoring publication BP Review of World Energy 2015.

• German coal “will remain a major, and probably the largest, fuel source for power generation for another decade and perhaps longer,” the Financial Times concludes.

• “The U.S. is dropping coal plants at an unprecedented rate, but still nowhere near as quickly as India is adding them,” Bloomberg Business reckons.

“By the end of this year, some 7.5% of the U.S. coal fleet will have disappeared … . But by 2020 India may have built about 2.5 times as much capacity as the U.S. is about to lose.”

Then, of course, there’s the world’s biggest coal addict by far — the People’s Republic of China. According to a 2014 report from Eric Lawson of Princeton University, a leading climate change apocalyptic on the left:

“The reality is that fossil fuels dominate China’s energy landscape, as they do in virtually every other country. And the focus on renewables also hides the fact that China’s reliance upon coal is predicted to keep growing.”

Lawson’s calculations of how coal use is growing in China are jaw-dropping. “From 2010 through 2013, (China) added half the coal generation of the entire U.S. At the peak, from 2005 through 2011, China added roughly two 600-megawatt coal plants a week for seven straight years.

“And according to U.S. government projections, China will add yet another U.S. worth of coal plants over the next 10 years, or the equivalent of a new 600-megawatt plant every 10 days for 10 years.”

All this underscores the foolishness and futility of the Obama climate-change regulations designed to drastically reduce coal production in the U.S. As we use less and the rest of the world uses more, the impact on global temperatures will be very close to zero.

Coal production in the U.S. is much safer and less carbon-intensive (clean coal technologies have reduced pollutants by 30%) than coal from other nations. So Obama’s war on coal may make global warming worse.

Some might say this gesture by the Obama administration to cut off coal production in the U.S. is a useful first step to save the planet. Except this isn’t just a cheap sign of goodwill.

It’s a tremendously expensive gesture that will cost America hundreds of thousands of jobs, raise utility prices by as much as $1,000 per family and reduce GDP by as much half a percentage point a year when we are already barely growing. The poor will be hurt most.

What makes the Obama administration regulations doubly destructive is that the U.S. has more coal than any other nation.

With at least 300 years of supply at a value of trillions of dollars, we are truly the Saudi Arabia of coal. To leave it in the ground would be like Obama telling Nebraska to stop growing corn, Idaho to stop growing potatoes and Silicon Valley to give up on the digital age.

Ironically, the president justifies his war on coal by arguing, “We must lead so that others will follow.” But outside of dreamland, the rest of the world has no intention of following Mr. Obama’s act of economic masochism. Most nations value getting richer over getting greener — as well they should. Given the sad state of our economy today, so should we.

See the article here.

 

Jarrett: EPA’s Changes To Power Grid Could Wreck The Economy

Via Breitbart.com:

Well, President Obama’s EPA has gone and done it.

For over a year, energy experts, utility regulators, electric grid operators, and everyone else who understands how the power sector works have criticized the EPA’s proposed “Clean Power Plan” (CPP), saying it will increase electricity prices and jeopardize the reliability of America’s electric grid. So, what did the President do? Did he listen to the experts? No. On August 3, he released a final rule that requires even steeper cuts in carbon emissions than previously expected.

Under the mandate of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states are now required to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electricity sector by 32 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2030. Specifically, each state must submit a compliance plan by 2018, with interim targets set for 2022, and final targets in place by 2030. And surprisingly, his plan could draw criticism from both sides of the climate debate.

For example, if you’re an ardent climate alarmist, and you think that man-made CO2 emissions will swiftly lead to global catastrophe, then you’ll find the CPP’s potential lowering of global CO2 concentrations by less than 1 percent (and a theoretical temperature reduction of 0.01 degrees Celsius by the year 2100) to be a rather meaningless accomplishment.

And if you’re skeptical of the threat posed by man-made CO2 in an ever-changing climate, then you’ll likely balk at the stunning price tag for this new set of rules, which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates at an annual cost of $51 billion in lost GDP and 224,000 jobs lost.

So what exactly is President Obama buying with our money?

Essentially, the President has embarked on a course of replacing reliable, affordable energy with a haphazard experiment in “renewable” energy and the mass transformation of America’s power system.

So how does this play out in the real world?

For starters, the reduction goals simply are not achievable without closing roughly one-third of America’s coal-fired power plants—even though these are the same workhorse power plants that have carried the nation through peak demand during two straight brutal winters. The costs of replacing this needed power will be borne by consumers in the form of significantly higher electricity prices.

Regarding the idealistic vision of embracing “renewable energy,” wind and solar power have proven to be intermittent forms of low-yield power.

Today, renewables supply less than 5 percent of electricity generation nationwide. The CPP would impose a nationwide mandate to generate 28 percent of electrical power from solar panels and wind turbines, with about two-thirds of that coming from wind, by 2030.

Accomplishing this would require roughly 500 gigawatts of wind-powered generating capacity. Noting that a large wind turbine produces roughly four megawatts of power, this would mean the construction of not only 125,000 giant new windmills but also hundreds of gigawatts through additional, conventional plants to serve as backup reserves (for windless and cloudy days).

On top of that, thousands of miles of new high-voltage transmission lines would have to be constructed to carry this new power to where it is needed. Billions and billions of dollars would be needed to pay for all of this new infrastructure. Who pays? You guessed it—you and me, in the form of higher electricity bills.

Truthfully, the president’s plan is intended more for show than for actual environmental benefit. Even though China is building one new coal-fired power plant every 10 days, and India and other countries in Asia continue their own plans to vastly increase coal-fired electricity generation, President Obama believes he must impress upon Beijing and the world that America is leading by example— and do so ahead of the Paris climate conference in December.

But replacing reliable, affordable energy with more costly, less reliable sources poses serious consequences for Main Street. America depends on coal for roughly 40 percent of its power generation, and low-cost coal electricity is the principal source of power in 30 states. The industrial Midwest is particularly reliant on coal, and the greatly increased energy costs posed by the CPP will undoubtedly hurt manufacturers already struggling to compete against subsidized overseas producers.

study of the new EPA plan suggests that, once the new rules are in place, a family of four could see their home energy bills increase by hundreds of dollars each year. In fact, the economic toll posed by the plan could be even more devastating, according to a reportcommissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC). The EPA rules would reduce GDP by over $2.3 trillion over the next two decades and require the average family to pay $1,225 more for power and gas in 2030. And, by 2035, the NBCC says “cumulative job losses for Blacks will total about 7 million and for Hispanics will total 12 million.”

The overall consequences of this tenuous plan are startling. But is Washington paying attention?

The implementation of such heavy-handed carbon dioxide regulations will radically alter the entire U.S. electricity sector, jeopardizing the reliability of the electric grid and raising costs on hard-working families, all in the name of reducing global temperatures by a minuscule fraction of a degree. This is not science. This is not prudent economics.  Americans need to stand up to such a dangerous plan and demand the continuation of reliable, affordable energy.

Terry Jarrett is a former commissioner of the Missouri Public Service Commission and an attorney with Healy Law Offices, LLC, in Jefferson City, Mo.

See the article here.

The Price Tag For Uprooting America’s Electric Grid

Via The Wall Street Journal:

What does it cost to keep the lights on? The question is surprisingly difficult to answer. Yet it affects the quality of life for everyone.

The answer matters now more than ever. On Aug. 3, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants, which requires states to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 32% (from 2005 levels) by 2030. To achieve this goal, states will have to close coal-fired electricity-generating plants and replace them with natural gas and renewables. The Energy Information Administration expects coal plant closures to reach 90 gigawatts by 2020 under the EPA’s rule—enough to deliver reliable power to about 73 million Americans.

We have been led to believe that this energy transition can be quick and painless, and even save money on utility bills. The White House declared that the regulation would “protect public health” and “reduce energy bills for households and businesses.” This is not so, and the data prove it.

study commissioned by my organization, the Institute for Energy Research (IER), finds that scrapping the existing coal fleet to build new generators would impose expensive and unnecessary costs—and the public would foot the bill.

The authors of the study are George Taylor, an engineer and director of Palmetto Energy Research, and Thomas Stacy, a researcher who has served on the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Energy Policy Committee. Using data from the Energy Information Administration and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, they found that existing nuclear plants generate reliable electricity, on average, at $29.60 per megawatt-hour—one million watts expended for one hour. Existing hydro, coal and natural gas aren’t far behind, at $34.20, $38.40 and $48.90, respectively. These figures are derived from self-reported data the government collects annually from individual generators.

But compare these costs with the costs of new sources. At $73.40 per megawatt-hour, electricity generated from new natural gas plants is about twice as expensive as from existing coal plants. This is due mostly to the plant’s upfront capital costs.

Replacing coal with renewable sources is even more expensive. The IER study found that installing and operating new wind facilities would cost $106.80 per megawatt-hour. This owes largely to wind power’s parasitic effect on the electric grid—forcing reliable generators to ramp up and down, and thus operate at higher cost, to accommodate random and volatile gusts of wind.

While one compares the costs of renewable power sources on paper, wind and solar can’t replace traditional energy sources in the real world. When the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, wind and solar require reliable sources like coal and natural gas to back them up. This imposes additional costs on natural gas plants, which have to be ramped up and down rapidly in response to unpredictable wind and solar output.

Still, the IER study is the first of its kind to compare the cost of electricity from existing sources with that of new sources. Previous studies only compared the cost of electricity from new sources. That is, if a new facility is being constructed, what technology can produce electricity over the life of the plant at the lowest cost? Now a price tag can be put on policies that force power plants to retire early.

Given the new study’s cost data, state governments should think twice about working with the EPA. The agency has called on states to submit compliance plans, and the regulators intend to impose a federal plan on states that don’t. Either option will force states to uproot the electric grid, imposing economic hardships.

Consider a recent study by Energy Ventures Analysis, which found that the EPA’s clean-power plan would raise household electric and heating bills by $680 annually. This would leave families, especially low-income households, with less money to spend on basic necessities like food, medicine and housing. While the EPA has called its carbon plan a “justice issue,” the agency would inflict the most harm on those who could least afford it.

The American people deserve better. The nation’s existing coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants could continue to deliver reliable and affordable electricity for decades to come, if not for the EPA’s costly and disruptive climate agenda.

Mr. Pyle is the president of the Institute for Energy Research, which receives funding from individuals, foundations and corporations, including those in the energy industry.

See the article here.

EDITORIAL: Save Us From the EPA

Via the Colorado Springs Gazette:

The newest version of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan,” announced last week, stands to devastate Colorado’s coal-based economy.

In Colorado Springs, it could negate the more than $100-million in upgrades to improve emissions at the city’s coal plants and would almost certainly force closure of at least the downtown Drake power plant. This local decision would suddenly become federal.

Colorado Springs relies on coal for about half its electrical generation. Statewide, nearly 65 percent of power demands are fulfilled by coal. About 20 percent relies on natural gas, and the remaining 15 comes mostly from hydroelectric, solar and wind.

How Colorado powers its grid should mostly be a Colorado decision, not a sweeping, authoritarian mandate of the Obama administration’s EPA – the agency that just spilled 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into West Slope waterways, tried to downplay the disaster and failed to warn New Mexico authorities downstream. Please, someone protect us from the EPA.

NERA Economic Consulting, a global firm of economists, estimates the EPA plan may bring double-digit rate increases to Colorado and 42 other states. In all, the firm estimates the plan would cost the American economy $366 billion. That’s $366 billion that cannot be used to expand businesses, pay for education or assist the needy. It is $366 billion just to power our grid in a fashion more amenable to President Barack Obama’s EPA.

As explained in a Wall Street Journal article, the plan could weaken reliability of the electric grid by forcing plants to close before replacements could be built.

“Yet even the administration admits that the EPA plan will have only a trivial impact on the climate,” the article states. If so – if this proposal won’t dramatically alter the climate – it sounds like another feel-good plan, at an enormous price, designed mostly for the sake of a president’s legacy.

Gov. John Hickenlooper is enthused about the regulations, and said he won’t join other state leaders who are considering the option of noncompliance.

Fortunately, the governor does not unilaterally control our fate in a system of checks and balances. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman maintains a skeptical view of the EPA’s anticipated overreach and is open to the possibility fighting for hardworking Coloradans. It is possible, in fact likely, the EPA lacks authority to impose such draconian rules.

“I will carefully review the EPA’s plan and evaluate its long term consequences for our state,” Coffman explained in a written statement. “But as I put the best interests of Colorado first, it may become necessary to join other states in challenging President Obama’s authority under the Clean Air Act.”

Colorado has a proud history of progressive environmental policies and is ahead of much of the rest of the country in setting high renewables mandates. But the EPA’s proposed new policies are unrealistic – too much too fast – even for Colorado.

“This expansion of federal power has the potential to put Colorado’s nearly $9 billion mining industry in jeopardy and threaten more than Colorado’s 74,000 jobs,” Coffman wrote.

The Supreme Court of the United States slapped down the EPA’s 2012 regulations with its ruling in Michigan v. EPA. In a nation of laws, the federal government’s executive branch has limited authority over individuals and the state governments that serve them. We encourage Coffman and other state attorneys general to seek justice against mandates that will harm the people who elected them.

The Gazette

See the article here.

Experts Agree: Price Too High, Benefits too Low for EPA’s Costly Power Plan

Experts Agree: Price Too High, Benefits too Low for EPA’s Costly Power Plan

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency released its final Clean Power Plan (CPP) – more appropriately labeled the “Costly Power Plan.”  As noted by National Mining Association President and CEO Hall Quinn, under the plan “American households and businesses will be forced to accept higher electricity rates in exchange for what EPA admits are negligible environmental gains.”

Independent studies have shown that the CPP is an energy tax on American consumers, with low-income households and seniors being the hardest hit. According to NERA Economic Consulting, the CPP will cost $366 billion and bring double digit electricity-rate increases to 43 states. Another study from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association found that a 10 percent increase in electricity rates would destroy an average of 882,000 jobs annually between 2020 and 2040.

And there is mounting evidence of the economic harm that will be caused by the CPP.

A new study released this week by the Institute for Energy Research (IER) found that closing existing coal-fired electricity-generating plants and replacing them with new natural gas and renewable sources of energy would impose huge costs on the American public. Per the study, existing coal plants generate reliable electricity, on average, at $38.40 per hour. However, under the CPP, electricity generated from new natural gas plants is $73.40 per megawatt-hour, almost twice as expensive as from existing coal plants. New wind facilities would cost $106.80 per megawatt-hour.  IER President Tom Pyle discussed this study in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial:

Given the new study’s cost data, state governments should think twice about working with the EPA. The agency has called on states to submit compliance plans, and the regulators intend to impose a federal plan on states that don’t. Either option will force states to uproot the electric grid, imposing economic hardships.”

Despite the tremendous economic costs, the CPP would provide minimal public health benefits. It’s all economic pain, for no environmental gain.  This point was made this week by Washington Post columnist Robert Samuleson:

Even under these favorable assumptions, Obama’s plan won’t immediately depress global temperatures, which — if the logic of climate change holds — will be higher in 2030 than today…Eliminating fossil fuel emissions from coal, oil and natural gas would presumably stabilize most human impact on global warming. But if done now, it would also destroy modern economies because fossil fuels provide four-fifths of the world’s primary energy. There’s no quick way of finding substitutes for all the fossil fuels. A single-minded focus on global warming would plunge the world into depression.”

Visit www.NMA.org to learn more about the EPA’s Costly Power Plan.

KY Buyer’s Remorse On CPP: This Is Not What We Thought We Were Buying

Via E&E News:

U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan will be so effective at incentivizing a shift to lower-carbon sources of power that the agency may never find it necessary to tighten its emissions limits, Administrator Gina McCarthy said today.

Speaking at an event hosted by Resources for the Future, McCarthy said the existing power plant rule released Aug. 3 set a long-term market signal that would continue to encourage reductions even after its final compliance deadline.

“I have every expectation that we will go way ahead of what this actually calls for in 2030,” she said.

If states and the private sector respond to the rule by accelerating the introduction of new technologies and bringing down the cost of reductions, an update to the Clean Power Plan may not be needed, she said.

“I never regret a regulation I don’t have to do,” she said.

The former state agency head said again that EPA based its flagship climate rule on policies some states had already implemented to reduce their emissions, apparently because they saw an economic advantage in doing so.

“States would not have gone out front at significant determent to themselves,” she said.

Last year’s draft version of the rule assigned many of these first-mover states much tougher targets because of past actions like the adoption of hefty regional renewable energy mandates or substantial investment in combined cycle natural gas facilities. The revised version goes much easier on first-mover states or states with diversified energy portfolios — some of which would even be allowed to grow their emissions between now and 2030 under a mass-based compliance approach. But the final version increases its overall cut from 30 to 32 percent by 2030 compared with 2012 levels because it comes down much harder on states that remain overwhelmingly dependent on coal-fired power.

But McCarthy said in today’s remarks that all states would find their compliance targets achievable. States can comply through efficiency or renewables or by shifting load away from coal-fired power plants and toward less emitting generators, she said. They can also trade credits or allowances even if they don’t adopt a fully backed emissions trading scheme as their state implementation plan, she said.

“No plant has to do this alone, no state has to do it alone. They all have the resources of the grid at their disposal,” she said.

McCarthy again trumpeted the substantial public outreach EPA performed in crafting the rule, calling it the “epitome of engagement.” She expressed pride in how much the rule had changed as the result of comments received.

But some states that feel they came out on the losing end of last week’s substantial reworking of state targets say they would have commented differently if they knew EPA would saddle them with so much more responsibility.

“We see this as a very significant impact on what we thought we could do under the proposed rule,” said Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Leonard Peters in an interview.

Kentucky’s obligation under the final rule changed from a proposed 18 percent cut by 2030 to a 39 percent reduction requirement.

“It is a dramatically different document from what we commented on,” he said. “If we commented on this final rule, our comments would be very, very different.”

See the article here.

Industry, States Set to Fight EPA Greenhouse Gas Rules

Via The Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON—Industry representatives and a group of state attorneys general are preparing to file lawsuits soon to challenge Obama administration rules requiring significant cuts in power-plant carbon emissions.

The move, expected in the coming weeks, would open up a legal battle by contesting the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency on a wide range of grounds, some of them little explored by the courts.

The EPA issued the regulations last week under a seldom-used section of the Clean Air Act. The agency also is confronting a legislative oddity from 1990, when Congress updated the clean-air law but inadvertently enacted differently worded House and Senate amendments that are relevant to the EPA’s carbon rules. How courts interpret the amendments could determine whether the administration’s power-plant rules survive.

Additional legal challenges will focus on whether the agency exceeded its powers by pushing utilities to shift to cleaner forms of energy instead of just focusing on pollution controls at fossil-fuel-fired power plants.

“There are definitely novel issues in this case,” said Tim Profeta, director of Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

The paucity of legal precedent on the Clean Air Act provision behind the carbon rules, known as Section 111(d), has some upside for the EPA, giving it flexibility to be creative with power-plant oversight, Mr. Profeta said. “The challenge, of course, is [that] without decades of precedent there is some question about how courts will apply it. It’s a two-edged sword,” he said.

ENLARGE

The EPA rules, in the works since 2013 and the cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s climate agenda, call for a 32% cut in power-plant carbon emissions by 2030 based on emissions levels of 2005.

“The legal foundation for this rule is laid out in great detail, we have responded to comments in a transparent way and we are confident that it is consistent with the law,” EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said.

The EPA has used the law’s 111(d) provision only a handful of times since it was enacted in 1970, and never for a pollutant on the scale of carbon dioxide. The EPA in the regulations said lawmakers meant the provision to fill gaps in other clean air programs by covering “a wide range of air pollutants—including ones that Congress may not have been aware of at the time it enacted the provision.”

Challengers say Congress never intended the provision—which requires states to devise pollution-reduction plans—as a sweeping grant of power to the EPA.

“We believe in this final rule the EPA is trying to convert itself from an environmental regulator to a central planning authority of states’ energy economies,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, whose office is leading a coalition of states that plan to challenge the rules in court.

Mr. Morrisey said he hopes to persuade 20 or more states to join the coming lawsuit, and anticipates filing related litigation challenging concurrent EPA rules for future power plants. He also said the state was working with coal miners and business allies that also are planning lawsuits.

Another group of states, led by New York and Massachusetts, support the regulations and pledged to back the EPA in court.

The differing House and Senate amendments from 1990, which address potential double regulation, could be crucial to the case. Challengers say the amendments mean the EPA’s carbon rules are barred because the agency already regulated power plants under a different section of the law for different pollutants.

The EPA disagrees and says the amendments mean the exclusion doesn’t apply when the agency is regulating a different pollutant than what it regulated previously.

The EPA’s final rules included some changes from the original 2014 proposal that could help it defend against certain lines of attack.

For example, the agency removed a component focusing on energy efficiency in homes and businesses from its formula on targeted emission reductions. Utilities had expressed concern, telling the EPA they can’t control how efficient customers are with their electricity. The agency acknowledged in the final rule that the energy-efficiency component didn’t fit within its traditional implementation of the Clean Air Act.

“It’s fair to say that was a place that would have attracted a lot of legal fire,” said Sean Donahue, a Washington, D.C., environmental lawyer who has been working with the Environmental Defense Fund to support EPA’s position in court.

An early test will come when challengers ask a court to block implementation of the carbon rules while the litigation proceeds. Courts consider several factors when deciding whether to grant such requests, including whether the challengers are likely to win and whether they will be irreparably harmed if the rules go into effect during the court battle.

The EPA’s supporters point out the agency gave states two extra years to comply, undermining the case for a stay.

Mr. Morrisey, the West Virginia attorney general, said states need a stay because they are required to begin developing plans now for cutting emissions.

Challenges to the EPA regulations go straight to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a court that regularly reviews government regulations. A final legal decision, possibly after appeals to the Supreme Court, could come after Mr. Obama leaves office.

In the run-up to the legal battle there have been some twists that could factor into the case. One came when the Supreme Court in June upheld the legality of nationwide health insurance subsidies. While the Obama administration won the case, the court declined to give deference to the administration’s interpretation of an ambiguous provision in the Affordable Care Act.

Lawyers close to the power-plant case believe challengers will try to use the ruling to convince judges they don’t owe deference to the EPA, at least on how to interpret the House and Senate amendments.

The Obama EPA for several years built a winning streak in the courts, including on its earlier rules limiting greenhouse-gas emissions from automobiles. The agency, however, recently has suffered two notable setbacks.

The Supreme Court in June ordered the EPA to reconsider rules requiring power plants to cut mercury emissions, because the agency didn’t properly consider the cost. And last year, the high court faulted the EPA for claiming power under a greenhouse-gas permitting program to regulate small emitters in the future, a ruling challengers plan to cite in the new case.

“Over the past six years, the courts have upheld the EPA’s air rules far more often than not,” said the EPA’s Ms. Harrison. She also said a 2011 Supreme Court ruling made clear the agency had authority under another section of the Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution from facilities like power plants.

See the article here.

Clean Power Plan Misses Its Mark

Via Greenville Online:

South Carolina faces a financial body-blow due to the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. This plan would require a 30 percent reduction of carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants by 2030.

To achieve its emissions-reduction goal, EPA is aiming to eventually phase out coal-generated power. While coal power plants are our largest source of carbon emissions, they are our most affordable source of electricity and meet nearly 40 percent of our national electricity demand. Replacing coal with other fuel sources, primarily natural gas, wind and solar power, will lower U.S. carbon emissions, but it will come with a steep price tag.

In South Carolina, coal power accounts for 25 percent of electricity demand. Economic analysis projects that implementing the Clean Power Plan, as proposed, could push up the state’s wholesale electricity prices by nearly 15 percent.

The Obama administration and its environmental allies stress climate leadership as the key reason for moving forward with their sweeping carbon proposal. However, they readily admit that U.S. carbon reductions will have almost no impact on global carbon concentrations. Unfortunately, they’re equating climate leadership with only one misguided path. Like or not, they must acknowledge that the global climate fight will not be won or lost in America’s coal fields.

Increasing the cost of electricity in our country, to the detriment of consumers and the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, is a mistake that will do little to encourage other nations to tackle the climate challenge.

It may be counter-intuitive, but the key to reducing global carbon emissions arguably lies with coal technology. Coal-generated power may be in retreat here but it remains the fuel of choice globally. China now burns nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined. India, Indonesia and a host of other Asian nations are ramping up their reliance on coal. Cheap and abundant, coal has been the tool of choice to bring countless millions out of energy poverty and drive economic growth.

For developing economies, the addition of solar, wind and nuclear energy will come largely on top of existing coal capacity, not in place of it. If we are serious about reducing global emissions, we have to help advance coal-burning technology.

According to a new study, more than 2,100 new coal plants are planned or already under construction worldwide, almost entirely outside the U.S. These plants, along with much of the world’s existing coal infrastructure, will operate for 40 or more years. Finding ways to improve their performance and reduce their emissions is an absolute necessity.

Rather than phasing out coal here, we should be leading a global effort to advance clean-coal technology, namely carbon capture and storage. As the nation with the world’s largest coal reserves and a remarkable capacity for innovation, it’s essential we spearhead efforts to demonstrate and commercialize next-generation coal technologies. Great strides forward in improving the environmental performance of coal plants aren’t unprecedented. Between 1970 and 2011, we reduced emissions of key pollutants from our coal fleet by nearly 90 percent.

Rather than take dead aim at U.S. coal, we need to use an “all of the above” approach to energy. This means the use of coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewables to generate our electricity.

In the immediate future, it would be a mistake to let the Obama administration and EPA impose their carbon reduction plan as proposed.

Reducing global carbon levels will take U.S. energy and environmental leadership, not just a misguided focus on American coal.

See the article here.

 

We’re Laying You Off to Save the Earth

Via One News Now:

As explained by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the Clean Power Plan aims to cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 32 percent.

“All while keeping energy reliable and affordable,” she claims.

“It is the worst regulation that I certainly have ever seen come down, on the power industry anyway,” responds Terry Jarrett, attorney and former Missouri public service commissioner comments.

Not only is the final rule vastly different from the proposed rule, he says, it’s more onerous on states in the Midwest and the West.

“They have increased the carbon reduction goals for many states,” Jarrett says of the EPA. “They do increase the time for compliance for the interim goals of the plan by two years. However, that really is not really not an effective increase in time to comply.”

That’s because it takes from five to 12 years to build new infrastructure that will comply with the Clean Power Plan.

In a commentary on National Review Online, Diana Furchgott-Roth notes that the EPA admits its new policies will reduce full-time employment – approximately 30,000 jobs – due to higher electrical prices that affect manufacturing.

The EPA report claims its plan reduces pollution in low-income communities and “communities of color,” citing “environmental justice.”

“Environmental justice is not much use if people lack jobs,” Furchgottt-Roth writes.

Not only is a 32-percent cut in carbon pollution not feasible, says Jarrett, cost is a concern.

“Most utilities were planning under the proposed rule to rely more on gas-fired generation by building new gas plants, because gas emits about 50 percent less carbon than coal,” the attorney explains. “However, the EPA has put out more stringent renewable standards. The utilities can’t rely on gas as much.”

What’s coming in the future, he predicts, is a “nightmare for the electric utility industry.”

See the article here.

Obama’s ‘Clean Power Plan’ Punishes Workers, Consumers and States

Via The National Review:

President Obama’s Clean Power Plan for existing and new power plants stretches to a combined 2,328 pages, exclusive of supporting documents and fact sheets. The language is Orwellian, with talk of “a partnership between the EPA and the states under which the EPA establishes emission guidelines and the states take the lead on implementing them by establishing emission standards or creating plans that are consistent with the EPA emission guidelines.” It’s no partnership if Big Brother is imposing its will on the different states.

The Clean Power Plan would, by 2030, reduce CO2 emissions from the utility sector by 32 percent from 2005 levels. It would raise electricity prices by an average of 15 percent, discouraging energy-intensive manufacturing.

These reductions are not uniform across states. As the chart below shows, 38 states will be forced to reduce emissions. Reductions vary from 37 percent in North Dakota to 1 percent in Delaware and Mississippi. Nine states, including Idaho, Washington, Maine, Oregon, and California, will be able to increase their CO2 emissions. Hawaii and Alaska are exempt from the program.

Of the ten states that will have to reduce emissions the most, seven voted for Romney in 2012, and the others all voted for Obama by a margin of less than 10 percent. Of the ten states that will have to reduce the least (or have leeway to increase emissions), eight voted for Obama in 2012.

The Clean Power Plan is thus a way of punishing the states that did not vote for Obama. What better revenge than to slow their economies and make them purchase credits from Democratic states such as California and Washington.

EPA gives states choice between a “rate-based approach,” where states reduce emissions from their power plants, and a “mass-based approach,” where other sources of carbon — from manufacturing, for example — can be lowered to count toward the reductions that power plants would otherwise have to make. States can combine in regions for the “mass-based approach,” and it is less expensive to follow.

The Clean Power Plan moves beyond regulation of power plants to regulation of regional emissions. If emissions from a power plant exceed the EPA’s requirements, a state, or group of states, would be required to shut down other energy-intensive manufacturing in order to allow the power plant to continue its emissions.

Obama has shown that Congress is not needed for cap-and-trade. Now his EPA is instituting the scheme by regulation.

This is “cap-and-trade” by another name. The Clean Power Plan is the same program — advanced by former senators John Kerry (D., Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (D., Conn.) and former representatives Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) and Edward Markey (D., Mass.) — that did not pass the Democratic House and Senate in 2010. It failed to become law because cuts in carbon emissions slow economic activity by raising the cost of electricity and American-manufactured goods.

Obama has shown that Congress is not needed for cap-and-trade. Now his EPA is instituting the scheme by regulation. No need for congressional legislation; Obama is taking matters into his own hands.

The question to ask is why any of this is necessary. Greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants have declined by 15 percent from 2005 to 2013, according to the Energy Information Administration. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Everyone breathes it out every day. It even helps the growth of trees and other greenery.

Nevertheless, with these new rules, some states or groups of states would have to meet their targets by ensuring that plants reduce emissions or by financing reductions in other ways, such as reducing consumer demand or investing in more costly renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. These impose real costs on the economy: fewer factories and jobs and less travel. Electricity made from solar power costs twice as much as electricity made from natural gas.

The Clean Power Plan’s Stationary Sources report spells out some job losses: “The EPA recognizes as more efficiency is built into the U.S. power system over time, lower fuel requirements may lead to fewer jobs in the coal and natural gas extraction sectors.”

The EPA estimates that the plan could result in a net decrease of approximately 31,000 full-time jobs in 2030 under the rate-based plan approach and approximately 34,000 full-time jobs under the mass-based approach. In addition, 52,000 to 83,000 jobs would be lost in 2030 as higher electricity prices would decrease consumer demand and the demand for workers in electricity-intensive manufacture.

These job-loss projections are likely to be a substantial underestimate, because delivered electricity prices are likely to rise by 12 percent to 17 percent, according to a report by NERA. As energy-intensive manufacturing leaves the United States for less-expensive overseas locations, employment will decline. Americans will import goods that were formerly made in America.

More imports from abroad mean fewer jobs in America and more jobs offshore. Obama has frequently voiced his opposition to offshoring jobs, but his new cap-and-trade policies will give firms a new incentive to do so.

The EPA appears to be more concerned about “environmental justice” than about higher electricity prices and lost jobs. The report states that “climate change is an environmental justice issue. Low-income communities and communities of color already overburdened by pollution are disproportionately affected by climate change and are less resilient than others to adapt to or recover from climate-change impacts.”

Environmental justice is not much use if people lack jobs. With an average person in the lowest quintile paying 24 percent of income on electricity, gasoline, and motor oil, compared to 4 percent for someone in the top quintile, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, increases in electricity prices are highly regressive.

To avoid a rollback of the rule by the next president, states are being asked to submit their plans for emissions reductions by September 2016. States should stall, and in 2016 Americans should elect candidates who will repeal this monstrosity.

— Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow and director of Economics21 at the Manhattan Institute. She is coauthor, with Jared Meyer, of Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America’s Young

See the article here.

Climate Fight Shifts to Courts

Via The Hill:

States, energy companies and business groups are preparing to sue the Obama administration over its new climate rule, viewing it as their bet shot at stopping the regulations while President Obama is still in office.

With Congress largely powerless to stop the rule, opponents of Obama’s push say the court system is their only hope at beating back the carbon limits until a new president is in the Oval Office in 2017.

“That is the most viable pathway by which the rule will be stopped during the Obama administration, because whatever the Congress does, he could veto,” said William Yeatman, a senior fellow at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Given the high stakes of the fight, the litigants are nearly certain to appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

More than a dozen states joined energy interests earlier this year in an attempt to block the proposed carbon limits for power plants. While that effort failed, the dry run helped the litigants sharpen their arguments for the bigger battle to come.

Their arguments will rest on whether the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) actions fall in line with the Clean Air Act and the Constitution.

Opponents of the rule believe strongly that the EPA stepped out of line, while the agency and its allies are confident that the courts will uphold it as a lawful use of executive power.

“I do believe the rule, as finalized, suffers from a number of legal infirmities,” said Yeatman, whose group is likely to join the litigation on behalf of the challengers.

Sixteen states and the National Mining Association have formally asked the EPA to delay implementation of the rule while the courts consider arguments, which could stretch for years.

They are soon likely to ask the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to immediately stop the EPA from implementing the rules. For that to happen, the litigants will have to prove they will suffer irreparable harm without such a stay, and that they are likely to win the case.

The legal arguments against the rule generally fall into three categories: That the EPA is violating constitutional limits on federal power; that the Clean Air Act prohibits “double regulation” on power plants whose other emissions are already regulated under another section of the law; and that the EPA lacks authority to regulate parts of the electric grid that are outside of power plants.

The constitutional argument has been made most forcefully by Laurence Tribe, a Harvard University law professor who once mentored President Obama and who has worked for Peabody Energy Corporation.

“Burning the Constitution of the United States, about which I care deeply, cannot be part of our national energy policy,” Tribe told the House earlier this year.

He later made similar arguments to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Defenders of the rule say that the constitutional claims have little impact on court proceedings, which more often rely on interpretations of statute.

“I think those arguments have not been made to persuade the court; they’ll be made to help the political process,” said Richard Revesz, director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law. “They just allow Sen. [Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] to tell governors that a liberal authority like Larry Tribe is on their side.”

The argument over “double regulation” meanwhile, was central to the coal mining company Murray Energy Corporation’s preemptive challenge of the rule.

When Congress last updated the Clean Air Act in 1990, the Senate passed an amendment to prohibit regulating the same emissions from the same sources using two provisions in the law. But a separate House amendment appears to prohibit regulating any two kinds of pollutants from the same sources, which would render the carbon rules illegal.

Strangely, both versions were passed and signed into law, a phenomenon that has been referred to as a “glitch.” In 2012, the EPA put into place rules limiting emissions of mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants.

“By the plain terms of the Clean Air Act, as interpreted by the Supreme Court and by EPA itself, this action foreclosed EPA from mandating state-by-state emission standards for these same sources,” Murray told the D.C. Circuit Court.

The EPA says that the House version can be reasonably interpreted to allow the carbon rules. It argues that the law only prohibited double regulation of hazardous pollutants like mercury.

“The government just has a much more sensible argument on its authority,” said Jody Freeman, a Harvard University law professor who once worked in the White House under Obama.

“It makes eminent sense,” she said of the EPA’s interpretation.

Still, opponents in Congress and across the country have stuck to the double regulation issue, seeing it as one of their most powerful arguments.

Lastly, opponents have attacked the sweeping nature of the rule. The EPA set its emissions standards for each state based, in part, on adding renewable energy or other low-emitting forms of power to the electric grid, replacing higher-emitting options like coal.

States say that the Clean Air Act does not allow such “beyond the fenceline” regulations.

“This final rule adopts a radical, unprecedented regime, transforming EPA from an environmental regulator into a central planning authority for electricity generation,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is leading a fight against the rules by 16 states, said in a statement.

In a formal request to delay the rule, Morrisey called the approach “novel” and “unlawful in numerous respects.”

Again, the EPA foresaw the argument and tried to preempt it, saying in its regulation that it is completely reasonable to look at entire electrical grids for regulatory purposes.

“It’s completely economically right and from an engineering perspective right to see the industry as able to do these things across the grid,” Freeman said.

See the article here.

EPA Rules Aim to ‘Decarbonize’ the Grid

Via The Washington Examiner:

The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to “de-carbonize” the country’s energy system by 2030 with a suite of new rules for power plants, hurting the long-term viability of both coal and natural gas plants.

The EPA on Monday finalized the rules, which include the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Obama’s climate change agenda. The rules place states on the hook to reduce emissions by almost one-third by 2030, beginning in 2022.

Even with changes to the final rules that are supposed to make it less strict for coal and gas, the industry says EPA’s changes are only “cosmetic.”

The real goal is “decarbonization,” which means transitioning the grid to zero-emitting resources such as wind and solar, according to the National Mining Association, which represents the coal industry.

The change to the “new coal standard is cosmetic and is likely of no practical value whatsoever” for building new coal plants, said Luke Popovich, vice president for external affairs at the National Mining Association. “Anyway, it is inconsistent with what EPA now candidly admits is the real goal — decarbonization.”

President Obama’s senior climate change adviser, Brian Deese, coined the term “decarbonization” in explaining changes to the rules to reporters last week. “That will help drive deeper decarbonization not just in 2030, but in subsequent years as well,” Deese said. “This rule gives us a strong foundation to keep pushing forward against our international commitments and is stronger when you look out at 2030 and beyond.”

Popovich said the EPA’s intent is not to help cleaner coal plants to comply or be built, but to switch the country to greater levels of renewable energy, with less and less dependence on fossil fuels, especially after 2030.

“They’ve introduced a new concept in the final [rule] that wasn’t in the proposal — ‘decarbonization,'” Popovich said in an email. “EPA now says this is the goal beyond 2030 and uses this goal to explain why they not only crush coal but in the final rule reduce natural gas projections and incentivize renewables in the early years to supplant natural gas.”

The Clean Power Plan, when proposed in 2014, had counted on natural gas-fired power plants more in meeting its targets. But the final rule reduces the focus on gas to ensure wind and solar are available to supplant fossil fuels.

“The proposal’s rush to gas was, they now say, inconsistent with the long-term goal of ‘de-carbonization’ of the power grid,” says Popovich. “In our view, de-carbonization is the path to ‘de-industrialization.'”

The natural gas industry also responded to the news of the changes, saying it appears “the White House is ignoring market realities and discounting the ability of natural gas to achieve the objective of emissions reductions more quickly and reliably while powering growth and helping consumers,” according to the head of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, Marty Durbin.

“With the reported shift in the plan, we believe the White House is perpetuating the false choice between renewables and natural gas. We don’t have to slow the trend toward gas in order to effectively and economically use renewables,” Durbin said.

The final Clean Power Plan offers compliance credits and incentives for states that invest in renewables early, with new emphasis on building up renewable energy capacity.

Proponents of the rule had raised concerns that states would seek to develop natural gas to meet the tight interim targets under the proposed rules. It now appears the EPA wants to counter that scenario through renewable compliance credits and other incentives.

See the article here.

Pence Vows to Fight EPA Rules

Via The South Bend Tribune:

INDIANAPOLIS — Republican Gov. Mike Pence vowed Monday to “vigorously” fight President Barack Obama’s recently finalized plan to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants across the U.S. over the next 15 years.

“Here in Indiana, homeowners and businesses rely on coal-burning power plants,” Pence said in a statement. “Yet little to no consideration was given to states like ours throughout the development of the EPA’s final rule and that is simply not acceptable.”

But whether the new rules amount to an unfair government mandate, as Pence maintains, or a sensible way to curtail emissions believed to contribute to global warming is subject to heated partisan debate.

After a preliminary version of the plan, called the Clean Power Plan, was released last year it drew fire from Pence and several other Republican governors who vowed not to comply with its requirements. Indiana is one of 16 states to face even more stringent targets in the final version than in the preliminary plan and Pence continued his criticism.

“If the final rule is not significantly improved, then Hoosiers can be assured that on behalf of families, businesses and other ratepayers, Indiana will not comply,” Pence said.

While Pence has been outspoken in his opposition, state environmental groups praised the new rules. They say a reduction in pollution will lead to improved air quality. And a reduction in emissions is important, they maintain, pointing to extreme weather across the country, which they say is a result of pollution-induced global warming.

“We’re a big part of the problem and we have a responsibility to do our part,” Jodi Perras, who advocates for energy solutions other than coal for The Sierra Club of Indiana, said.

One of the state’s largest energy providers indicated it was on the way toward compliance.

Lynn Good, CEO for Duke Energy, called the president’s plan “ambitious” in a statement. Good said the utility was heading toward compliance, but “even without federal regulations, our company has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from our power plants by 22 percent since 2005.”

Similarly, Indiana Michigan Power is complying with EPA emissions standards by retrofitting its Rockport Generation Plant along the Ohio River with $258 million in technology and Northern Indiana Public Service Co. is investing $739 million for scrubbers, which remove certain pollutants from smokestack emissions at two of its generating stations, including the one in Michigan City to be completed at the end of 2016.

States were notified last year of the emissions reduction targets that they must meet under the plan. The finalized rules released Monday require an additional 2 percent reduction in emissions, but also give states an additional two years to begin cutting emissions.

Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said that rapid changes in the renewable energy sector can make it easier for states to find ways to generate energy while reducing emissions.

But some industry groups believe the new rules could cost consumers. They also believe the EPA is overly optimistic about the ability of states to comply by the 2030 deadline.

Mark Maassel, president of the Indiana Energy Association, which represents the state’s investor-owned utilities, said the changes will ultimately result in higher energy bills. Calling the plan “a stretch,” he said the EPA shouldn’t assume states will realistically be able to reduce power plant emissions.

“We question a lot of the EPA assumptions that went into developing the emissions reductions,” Maassel said.

See the article here.

The Cynicism of the Clean Power Plan

Via The National Review:

If you want to irritate promoters of the Clean Power Plan, just state the obvious: It’s going to increase electricity prices, and that will be bad for the poor and the middle class.

Last Monday, I made that very point during an interview on KPCC radio in Los Angeles, (“Air Talk with Larry Mantle”). My counterpart was David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a group that has pushed hard for the Clean Power Plan. After I pointed out that electricity prices in Europe had soared due to renewable-energy mandates, Doniger replied with something to the effect that I should not be using “scare stories” that are a “decade old.”

Doniger’s reply was hardly surprising. The claque that’s pushing the Clean Power Plan — the White House, the wind lobby, the solar lobby, NRDC, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Sierra Club — don’t want to admit that it will probably increase costs for the poor and the middle class. On Monday, the White House even published an article on its website that declared, “The most cynical claim is that EPA’s plan will harm minority and low-income communities.”

To be clear, I’m a cynic about politics in general and the politics of green energy in particular. But in the Potemkin village of green-energy boosters, it’s now considered cynical to state the obvious. In the view of green boosters such as Doniger — who, by the way, worked on climate and air policy for seven years at the EPA — the European numbers don’t matter. They are merely “scare stories” that might stand in the way of ever-increasing government intervention in energy markets.

I agree with Doniger that the numbers from Europe are scary. Consider Germany, which has mandated huge increases in renewable energy. Between early 2007 and late 2014, residential electricity prices (for households that consumed between 2,500 and 5,000 kilowatt-hours per year) rose by more than 40 percent, going from $0.23 cents to $0.33 per kilowatt-hour. Those prices — which are readily available on Eurostat and include all taxes — jumped at the same time Germany’s solar capacity increased 17-fold and wind capacity more than doubled.

Eurostat data from Spain, which has also been on a renewable-energy binge, tells a similar story. Between 2007 and 2014, residential electric rates in Spain jumped by 70 percent. Over that same time period, wind capacity increased by about 50 percent and solar capacity grew about seven-fold. Spanish households are now paying some of the highest electricity prices in Europe, about $0.27 per kilowatt-hour, a rate that is more than twice the U.S. average.

Many others are underscoring the danger of foisting more-expensive electricity on the poor, including Charles Steele Jr., the president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil-rights group that was co-founded by Martin Luther King Jr. On July 30, Steele published an article in the State Journal-Register (Springfield, Ill.) in which he observed that “the EPA has a history of downplaying, or ignoring, the cost of its regulations.” He went on, saying that “environmental goals always seems to come with ever-increasing price tags often disproportionately borne by the less fortunate.”

Steele cited a report by the consulting firm Energy Venture Analysis, which found that “the Clean Power Plan would drive up wholesale electricity costs in Illinois by nearly 20 percent.” He concluded that “trading marginal environmental gains for soaring energy prices is a bad deal.”

Jo Ann Williams, the head of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, made some of the same points that Steele made. In a statement released on Monday, she said the Clean Power Plan “exceeds the EPA’s legal authority under the Clean Air Act, and it will raise electricity rates for our country’s most vulnerable populations while challenging the reliability of the grid.”

The Clean Power Plan will ‘lead to lost jobs, lower incomes, and higher poverty rates for the 128 million blacks and Hispanics living in America.’

In June, Harry C. Alford, the head of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), said that the Clean Power Plan will “lead to lost jobs, lower incomes, and higher poverty rates for the 128 million blacks and Hispanics living in America.” Alford has also called the measure “a slap in the face to poor and minority families.” A study funded by the NBCC has estimated that due to the Clean Power Plan, the poverty rate for blacks will increase from 26 percent to about 32 percent by 2025.

Of course, no one can predict exactly what will happen with the Clean Power Plan, how America’s sprawling electricity sector will respond, or what will happen with electricity prices. But for the White House to label valid criticism of the plan as “cynical,” well, that only reinforces my belief that the great comic Lily Tomlin had it right when she said, “No matter how cynical I get, I can’t keep up.”

— Robert Bryce is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His latest book is Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong

See the article here.

AG Strange: Obama’s Latest Radical Environmentalist EPA Rule Will Cost 16,000 Alabama Jobs (Opinion)

Via Yellowhammer News:

President Obama just announced the latest step in a radical environmentalist agenda that has already given us the Solyndra boondoggle, wasted billions on green energy projects that do not work, and threatened the jobs of everyone who relies on the coal industry. But his Environmental Protection Agency’s newest raft of top-down regulations is the worst yet. If allowed to go forward, it will shutter coal-fired power plants, cost consumers hundreds of dollars a year in increased energy bills, and result in thousands of hard-working Americans losing their jobs.

President Obama has a history of disregarding the huge costs of his agency’s regulations. In 2012, EPA launched its most recent attack on coal with a major regulation designed to cripple the industry. Under the EPA’s own estimates, the cost of that regulation would have outweighed the benefit by a factor of 2 to 1. Astonishingly, the EPA argued that the cost of the regulation was irrelevant. My office disagreed, and we joined with 22 other states to challenge the EPA in court. We won that case, and the United States Supreme Court sent a message to the administration that it could not issue massive new regulations without any consideration for the cost those actions would impose on the American people. It’s a message that apparently fell on deaf ears.

The EPA’s newest regulation is far more draconian than its last. Initial estimates indicate that the rule will increase the average annual energy bill of Alabama households by more than $800 by 2020. It will increase the total annual cost of energy in Alabama by $5.2 billion. And it will threaten the jobs of the more than 16,000 hard-working men and women in our state who depend on the coal industry.

And for what? The costs of this rule are concrete. We’ll see them in our monthly electric bills. We’ll see them in our unemployment rate. We’ll see them in shuttered coal-fired power plants and in an energy grid that may not have the capacity to meet Alabama’s energy needs. But we won’t see the benefits. The administration cannot point to one concrete benefit that will accrue to the people of Alabama because of this regulation. This is a giveaway to President Obama’s supporters in the green energy industry and the environmental lobby, and nothing more.

In 2008, Barack Obama promised that when he became president, he would bankrupt the coal industry. If unchallenged, the EPA’s newest regulation on our nation’s energy sector will go far in making that promise a reality. But we aren’t going to sit back and allow it to go unchallenged. Instead, we are joining with a coalition of states from across the country to take this latest example of the Obama administration’s destructive agenda to court.

Our argument will be a simple one—the EPA cannot ignore the law, and it must consider the cost when it acts.

The people of Alabama deserve nothing less.

See the article here.

President’s ‘Clean Power Plan’ Meets Strong Criticism In Montana

Via Montana Public Radio:

The plan the White House unveiled today to reduce carbon dioxide emissions nationwide is meeting with strong and broad criticism in Montana.

That includes Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, who issued a statement today saying he’s “extremely disappointed” in the White House’s Clean Power Plan, because the White House “moved the goal post.”

What Bullock means is that the new plan calls for greater reductions in CO2 emissions than it did in its draft Clean Power Plan last year. That plan had a target of cutting 21 percent of the state’s carbon dioxide emissions. The new plan?

“It could be anywhere between about a 32-33 percent to as high as as 47.”

That’s Tom Livers, head of Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality. He says it’s hard to say exactly how much the state will have to reduce it’s CO2 emissions, because the new Clean Power Plan changes a number of variables.

“It looks like they’ve changed the baseline from the draft rule, so in terms of the reduction we’re working from, that appears to have changed … there’s more changes than just the target itself,” Livers says.

The Montana AFL-CIO also says it is “very concerned” about the new clean energy rule. A press release says the labor union is “worried about what this means for the hundreds of working families whose livelihoods depend on the coal industry, the communities that depend on those jobs, Montana’s tax base and the ratepayers that could be impacted by these changes.”

Even more critical of the new clean power plan is Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, a Republican. He blasted the draft plan when it came out last year, and now says he’s and other attorneys general, many from western states, are considering filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency.

“They are promulgating rules that turn them from an environmental regulator essentially using a very obscure portion of the Clean Air Act, instead they’re trying to impose what we see as a national energy policy through rulemaking,” says Fox.

Also strongly critical of the Clean Power Plan were the chairman of Montana’s Public Service Commission, which regulates power companies and utilities, and the Republican members of Montana’s congressional delegation, Senator Steve Daines and Representative Ryan Zinke.

But environmental and health groups praised the new plan. Anne Hedges with the Montana Environmental Information Center says it’s reasonable to set tougher thresholds for carbon dioxide emissions here, and the Montana Chapter of the American Lung Association said it will prevent 3,600 premature deaths by 2030.

See the article here.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan Faces Opposition from Black, Hispanic Leaders

Via The Washington Times:

The White House’s carbon emissions regulations have opened a major rift between President Obama and some black and Hispanic leaders who fear the climate change policies will drive up poverty in low-income areas, kill jobs and raise electricity rates for families that can least afford it.

Days after the Environmental Protection Agency released its Clean Power Plan, which calls for a 32 percent reduction in carbon pollution by 2030, some black leaders say the plan will disproportionately hurt poor people, especially minorities, who traditionally have been among the president’s strongest supporters.

While Mr. Obama this week vehemently denied that the policy will harm poor Americans, the EPA seemed to recognize that it must spend more on energy efficiency in low-income areas as part of its broader plan.

The agency says it will award credits to states for each renewable energy and energy efficiency project they undertake. In low-income communities, the EPA said, the energy efficiency credits in 2020 and 2021 will be doubled, and states can use those credits to offset the steep emissions cuts Mr. Obama is requiring.

The EPA stresses that energy efficiency is a key piece of its proposal, and supporters of the Clean Power Plan argue that more energy-efficient homes, cars and businesses can more than make up for any short-term bump in electricity rates.

But some influential black and Hispanic leaders, including the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce, say the administration is failing to grasp the real consequences of the proposal. They fear the Clean Power Plan could decimate poor communities and raise poverty rates, and they question whether the EPA’s energy efficiency credit program ultimately will work.

“I’m very concerned that poor people will always pay the price for people who happen to have a vision. … That goes for the EPA, for anyone who isn’t concerned about poor people. The electricity bill is going to skyrocket for poor people,” said Charles Steele Jr., CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and, aside from the carbon regulations, a staunch supporter of Mr. Obama.

Mr. Steele said the EPA’s energy efficiency credit program may not bring the benefits the administration expects.

“They’re trying to balance the scales, but you don’t do it like that. … Who says this is going to happen? Who is going to say the investment is going to take place?” he said.

Mr. Steele’s fears are shared by other black and Hispanic leaders.

In June, for example, National Black Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Harry Alford testified before a Senate panel and said the Clean Power Plan will devastate minority communities.

“The Clean Power Plan would increase black poverty by 23 percent, Hispanic poverty by 26 percent, result in cumulative job losses of 7 million for blacks, nearly 12 million for Hispanics in 2035, and decrease black and Hispanic median household income by $455 to $550, respectively, in 2035,” he told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, citing a study commissioned by the Black Chamber.

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce also has raised serious concerns about the ramifications of the Clean Power Plan.

But Mr. Obama and administration officials argue that the regulations, while helping reduce overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and make the nation a global leader on climate change, will carry specific benefits for minority communities.

Supporters say investments in renewable energy will spur job creation. They also contend that asthma and other serious health problems related to dirty air will become less common, bringing benefits to low-income families in inner cities with the worst air quality and those who may not have the same access to quality doctors and hospitals.

“We’ve got critics of this plan who are actually claiming that this will harm minority and low-income communities — even though climate change hurts those Americans the most, who are the most vulnerable,” Mr. Obama said Monday while formally announcing the Clean Power Plan and attacking Republicans for opposing Obamacare.

“Today, an African-American child is more than twice as likely to be hospitalized from asthma; a Latino child is 40 percent more likely to die from asthma. So if you care about low-income, minority communities, start protecting the air that they breathe, and stop trying to rob them of their health care,” he said.

Despite the president’s remarks, the Clean Power Plan’s potential impact on low-income areas will be a key point for Republicans as they seek to dismantle the regulations.

Top Republicans on Capitol Hill say they intend to block the plan any way they can. A bipartisan group of attorneys general from across the country is preparing lawsuits to challenge the regulations in federal court, and several Republican governors have vowed to ignore the rules entirely.

Some Republicans specifically have cited the plan’s impact on low-income families.

“The administration says, ‘Well, this will encourage people to buy more energy-efficient appliances, use less electricity and get better windows.’ Who do you think are going to be the last people to get the more energy-efficient appliances and the last people to get better windows and the last people to get more insulation?” Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, said Tuesday.

“This impacts poor families and working families in a negative way,” he said.

See the article here.

McCrory Will Sue EPA Over Carbon Rule

Via WFAE:

Republican administrations across the country have opposed the Obama administration’s plan to regulate carbon emissions since it was first announced, and North Carolina is no exception. Last year, Governor Pat McCrory joined eight other governorsin a letter that argued the rule would effectively ban coal. North Carolina did not join a lawsuit against the EPA’s first draft, which a federal judge dismissed in June.

But the EPA finalized the rule Monday. The governor’s office quickly released a statement saying it would sue, arguing the rule would raise electricity rates and hurt job creation. The Obama administration has argued the opposite, but the main rationale for the rule is to combat climate change. In the past, Governor McCrory and environment secretary Donald van der Vaart have said they believe the science on that is not settled.

North Carolina Effect

When the EPA first proposed the rule last year, it required North Carolina to make some of the most severe cuts to power plant emissions in the nation. The finalized rule, released yesterday, puts the state closer to the middle of the pack, with about a 35 percent reduction in power plant carbon emissions from 2012 to 2030. The EPA shifted more of the onus to coal-dependent states.

“The coal units in places like Kentucky and Montana really have to cut their emissions or achieve reductions through some other means,” says Brian Murray, director of Duke University’s environmental economics program.

Along with some renewable energy and energy efficiency, the EPA’s plan largely counts on natural gas replacing coal generation. That’s already happening in North Carolina, where Duke Energy’s retired six coal plants in the past three years, and over the next 15 years, plans to build even more natural gas plants.

See the article here.

In Support of Federal Coal

Via The Denver Post:

Former Bureau of Land Management Director Jim Baca sees “a shocking inconsistency” in the federal coal leasing program. But the inconsistency is his illogical suggestion that the BLM should squeeze more revenue from the program while keeping more coal in the ground.

The government’s own investigations do not support Baca’s contention that the federal coal leasing program is “seriously flawed,” let alone requires a “major overhaul.” Neither the Government Accountability Office report nor the Department of the Interior Inspector General’s investigation urged an overhaul of the coal lease program; merely modest improvements.

The program provides revenue and essential services to Americans. Last year the coal leasing program generated $2.6 billion for Colorado and the nation for schools, first responders, health care, roads, conservation funding, etc., and generated nearly one-fifth of the nation’s total electricity.

Hal Quinn, WashingtonD.C.

The writer is president and CEO of the National Mining Association.

See the article here.

 

Obama’s Latest Executive Action: Spend Hundreds of Billions to Not Help the Environment

Via The National Review:

The Obama administration today announced its Clean Power Plan rules, which set limits on carbon emissions from power plants nationwide. At a White House event, President Obama trumpeted the rule as “the single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against global climate change.”

Unfortunately, the Clean Power Plan packs neither the environmental nor diplomatic punch the Obama administration has claimed. Moreover, contrary to the White House’s assertion, it offers states little flexibility and comes at enormous economic expense.

Begin with the impact on climate change. The United States is responsible for only 5 percent of the world’s total carbon emissions. In other words, “even if the United States stopped emitting all CO2 now and going forward, it would only reduce emissions by 0.15 degrees Celsius — that’s all we have to work with,” says the Cato Institute’s assistant director of the Center for the Study of Science, Chip Knappenberger.

Using the EPA’s own climate-model emulator, Knappenberger and his colleague Patrick J. Michaels determined that the Clean Power Plan rules will affect climate by less than two-hundredths of a degree Celsius by 2100, an amount so miniscule that it’s nearly impossible to measure.

Of course, developing countries are responsible for most of the world’s carbon emissions. Even the Obama administration and its allies in Congress acknowledge this, but they claim that the Clean Power Plan will help them reach a broader agreement at the United Nations climate conference in Paris late this fall.

One big problem, though: There’s little reason to expect that the developing world will make the economic sacrifices necessary to reduce emissions.

Beijing is a key bellweather, and early developments in negotiations aren’t promising. Last November, the United States and China inked a climate pact, hyped by John Kerry as an agreement of “great consequence in the fight against climate change.” But despite the Obama administration’s spin, the sacrifices in this pact are wholly one-sided.

China promises only to “stop increasing” carbon emissions by 2030 — which is to say, Beijing will allow emissions to increase for another 15 years, even as the United States requires power plants, by 2030, to reduce their carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels. China also will strive to get one-fifth of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, relying on dirtier energy to fill the rest.

China’s pollution problems are severe, and the valid environmental concerns of its citizens have increasing political importance. Nevertheless, the cadres in Beijing rely on economic growth for their legitimacy; so, with roughly 200 million Chinese living on $1.25 a day or less, it makes sense that the Chinese Communist Party hesitates to impose environmental protections that could hinder growth.

If, in 2030, Beijing is continuing to prioritize economic development over climate-change protections, the United States will have few mechanisms to force China to live up to its end of the bargain.

At the same time that the EPA overstates the impact of the Clean Power Plan on climate change, it substantially understates the impact on the national economy.

But in the United States, the federal government plans to strictly enforce these draconian regulations. At the same time that the EPA overstates the impact of the Clean Power Plan on climate change, it substantially understates the impact on the national economy. (In fact, the Government Accountability Office has slammed the EPA for its faulty calculations in the past.) Even so, the EPA has predicted that complying with the Clean Power Plan will be equivalent to the combined total cost of all Clean Air Act rules set forth up to 2010.

Other estimates are even more pessimistic. National Economic Research Associates predicts an eye-popping compliance costs of up to $479 billion. Though President Obama is claiming the Clean Power Plan will ultimately save Americans $85 per year on their utility bills, the NERA study found that households in 43 states will actually see double-digit price hikes. The National Black Chamber of Commerce reports that non-white families will especially suffer from these price increases in electricity, while blacks and Hispanics will also suffer the loss of 19 million jobs by 2035 as a result of the Clean Power Plan.

While the Obama administration claims that the Clean Power Plan is flexible, allowing states to figure out the best way to implement the regulations, the reality is quite different. If the EPA doesn’t approve of the plans that state legislatures submit, the agency can just impose its own methods, as it has done with the rules on regional haze.

Already, states are pushing back. Fourteen states, along with the Murray Energy Corporation and others in the energy sector, launched a recent challenge to the Clean Power Plan in federal court, though a judge ruled in June that the suit was premature. More than a dozen states anticipate taking future legal action against the regulations, and others have threatened to defy the EPA’s mandates outright. As these legal challenges continue, congressional Republicans are also pushing legislation to scale back the EPA’s rules.

The Clean Power Plan exemplifies bad policy, deeply harming the economy without meaningful environmental or diplomatic achievements. States and the other two branches of federal government should act fast to halt this wrongheaded executive action.

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum and the Blankley Fellow at the Steamboat Institute .

See the article here.

EPA’s New Power Plant Rules Tougher on Indiana

Via The Indianapolis Star: 

WASHINGTON – Indiana would have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by a much greater amount than initially proposed, under the final version of a potentially historic rule released by the Obama administration Monday.

Although Indiana’s goal has been toughened, the Environmental Protection Agency said the final rate Indiana has to meet by 2030 is still one of the least stringent among states.

Still, Gov. Mike Pence has already vowed to fight the rule in court, as well as potentially refuse to comply, if — after reviewing the rule — he doesn’t find it sufficiently improved from the draft version.

“Far too much is at stake for jobs and the economy in Indiana for us to do anything less,” Pence said in a statement.

“Reducing pollution from power plants means cleaner air for asthmatics I care for and a cleaner bill of health,” said Dr. Steve Jay, an Indianapolis physician and professor emeritus of medicine and public health at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Indiana already tried to stop the rule in a multistate suit dismissed in June by a federal appeals court. The court said the states had to wait until the plan was finalized before they could sue.

“EPA’s rule is an overreach of historic proportions, and this regulation of electrical power generation goes far beyond what Congress authorized the agency to do,” Zoeller said in a statement.

Environmental groups have said states will have a difficult time getting a court to suspend the rules during the litigation because states have to show they would suffer immediate “irreparable harm,” and the proposal has a long lead time before emissions have to be reduced.

Reductions are to begin in 2022, compared with the initial proposal of 2020, and must be fully met by 2030.

The Clean Power Plan is the cornerstone of the administration’s attempt to curb climate change by forcing reductions in carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, which officials hope will help persuade other countries to take similar steps.

Power plants that use fossil fuels are the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, accounting for nearly one-third of the emissions.

Indiana, which relies on burning coal for electricity more than most states, is among the top emitters of carbon dioxide.

In 2013, the 99 million metric tons of carbon pollution generated by the state’s plants equaled the amount of pollution generated by 20 million cars in a year, according to the White House.

Under the initial version of the rule released last summer, Indiana would have had to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide generated per unit of electricity 24 percent from 2012 levels by 2030.

Under the final version, the emissions rate has to be reduced 38.5 percent.

EPA officials said the final version reflects a more consistent approach to setting emissions rates for plants that led to less variation among states.

Under the initial proposal, only eight states would have had to reduce emissions rates less than Indiana.

“It sets standards that are fair and consistent around the country and are based on what states and utilities are already doing to reduce carbon from power plants,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Janet McCabe, the former Indiana air official who heads the EPA office that wrote the new rule, said Indiana’s tougher reduction is achievable because of the opportunities for states to join regional carbon emissions trading programs. States that cut their emissions more deeply than required can sell credits to other states that aren’t meeting their reductions.

The federal compliance plan that will be imposed on a state that does not write its own plan is based on allowing states and power plants to trade emissions credits.

States also can reduce emissions by making plants burn fuel more efficiently, switching from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas or to renewable sources such as wind and solar energy, or by reducing energy demand through programs that make buildings and appliances more energy efficient.

States have about a year to file an initial plan but can ask for an extension of up to two years to refine it.

John Hamilton, who headed the Indiana Department of Environmental Management from 1997 through 1999, said it would be irresponsible for the state not to create its own compliance plan.

“Indiana has always done its part to write state clean air plans that make sense for Hoosier families and businesses,” he said.

Other Hoosier supporters of the proposal include the Hoosier Environmental Council, which argues that Indiana’s economy can benefit if the state turns its manufacturing prowess to making energy-saving equipment, solar panels and other components that will be needed as more electricity comes from renewable sources.

“Indiana should embrace, not resist, this plan, because it has much more to gain than most states,” said Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council.

See the article here.

Climate-Change Putsch

Via The Wall Street Journal:

Rarely do American Presidents display the raw willfulness that President Obama did Monday in rolling out his plan to reorganize the economy in the name of climate change. Without a vote in Congress or even much public debate, Mr. Obama is using his last 18 months to dictate U.S. energy choices for the next 20 or 30 years. This abuse of power is regulation without representation.

The so-called Clean Power Plan commands states to cut carbon emissions by 32% (from 2005 levels) by 2030. This final mandate is 9% steeper than the draft the Environmental Protection Agency issued in June 2014. The damage to growth, consumer incomes and U.S. competitiveness will be immense—assuming the rule isn’t tossed by the courts or rescinded by the next Administration.

***

States have regulated their power systems since the early days of electrification, but the EPA is now usurping this role to nationalize power generation and consumption. To meet the EPA’s targets, states must pass new laws or regulations to shift their energy mix from fossil fuels, subsidize alternative energy, improve efficiency, impose a cap-and-trade program, or all of the above.

Coal-fired power will be the first to be shot, but the EPA is targeting all sources of carbon energy. As coal plants have retired amid seven years of EPA assault, natural gas recently eclipsed coal as the dominant source of electric power. This cleaner-burning gas surge has led to the cheapest and fastest emissions plunge in history, but the EPA isn’t satisfied.

Opinion Journal Video

Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot discusses the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever national standard imposed on existing power plants. Photos: Getty Images

Thus the new rule’s central planning favors green energy sources like wind and solar. The plan expands their quotas and funding, while punishing states that are insufficiently enthusiastic. The EPA estimates renewables will make up 28% of U.S. electric capacity by 2030, up from less than 5% today.

The rule is the first step in a crescendo of climate-change politics that Mr. Obama is planning for his final days. In September he will commune with Pope Francis on the subject, and then jet to Paris in hopes that his new rule shows enough U.S. progress that the climate treaty conference in December will reach some grand accord.

As for the home front, the point is to bull-rush states into making permanent changes to their energy systems. The investments and lead times in new power plants and transmission lines on this scale are generational. Yet state compliance plans are due in September 2016, and most of the carbon reductions must be complete by 2022.

The White House and EPA know they are distorting the law beyond recognition and that this rule will be litigated for years. But they figure that if they can intimidate the states into enacting as much change as fast as possible, a legal defeat won’t matter because the outcome will be a fait accompli.

The Supreme Court did give EPA the authority to regulate carbon emissions in Mass. v. EPA in 2007. But that was not a roving license to do anything the EPA wants. The High Court has rebuked the agency twice in the last two years for exceeding its statutory powers.

“When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate a significant portion of the American economy, we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism,” the Court warned last year. “We expect Congress to speak clearly if it wishes to assign to an agency decisions of vast economic and political significance.”

Congress did no such thing with the Clean Power Plan, which is a new world balanced on a fragment of the Clear Air Act called Section 111(d). This passage runs a couple hundred words and was added to the law in 1977, well before the global warming stampede. Historically Section 111(d) has applied “inside the fence line,” meaning the EPA can set performance standards for individual plants, not for everything connected to those sources that either produces or uses electricity.

When the EPA rule does arrive before the Justices, maybe they’ll rethink their doctrine of “Chevron deference,” in which the judiciary hands the bureaucracy broad leeway to interpret ambiguous laws. An agency using a 38-year-old provision as pretext for the cap-and-tax plan that a Democratic Congress rejected in 2010 and couldn’t get 50 Senate votes now is the all-time nadir of administrative “interpretation.”

***

Meantime, states can help the resistance by refusing to participate. The Clean Air Act is a creature of cooperative federalism, and Governors have no obligation to craft a compliance plan. The feds will try to enforce a fallback, but they can’t commandeer the states, and they lack the money, personnel and bandwidth to overcome a broad boycott. Let’s see how much “clean power” the EPA really has.

The states have good reason to avoid collaborating in a scheme that will result in higher prices for consumers and business as the EPA mandates are passed down the energy chain. The plan also endangers electric reliability, and the strains to the grid could lead to brownouts or worse. The EPA added a reliability “safety valve” in the final rule as a concession that these risks are real, but this offers little protection in practice.

This plan is essentially a tax on the livelihood of every American, which makes it all the more extraordinary that it is essentially one man’s order. Mr. Obama’s argument is that climate change is too important to abide by relics like the rule of law or self-government. It is an important test of the American political system to prove that he is wrong.

See the article here.

Governor Scott Walker Statement on EPA’s Final Rule

Madison – Governor Scott Walker released the following statement today relating to President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule.

Yet again, President Obama is taking unilateral action and overstepping the limits of his authority to pursue a political agenda.  The Obama Administration ignored the significant, overriding issues that will increase costs for Wisconsin ratepayers by up to $13 billion, unnecessarily harming families and killing manufacturing jobs.

We will examine the final plan in detail, but clearly Wisconsin’s extensive, constructive comments to the EPA have fallen on deaf ears in Washington.

Wisconsin has taken every opportunity to express that the Obama Administration is not only exceeding its authority by issuing the EPA’s final rule, but is pursuing the least efficient way to make environmental gains.

Today, I am asking the Attorney General to take immediate action to protect Wisconsin ratepayers and workers from the devastating impacts of the Obama Administration’s actions.

In addition, I am directing the Department of Natural Resources to work with the Public Service Commission to evaluate the financial impact of the final rule.

See the press statement here.

EPA’s Clean Power Plan Won’t Stop Surge in Coal­fired Plants

Via The Paducah Sun:

One of the main arguments supporters use in favor of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is that it will help solve the so­called “climate change” problem.

“We are taking the most significant step in U.S. history toward reducing the pollution that causes climate change,” declared the Environmental Defense Fund. Even assuming, for purposes of argument only, that the assumptions about climate change are correct, not only will the Clean Power Plan fail to do anything to reduce climate change, it will wreck our economy by closing our coal­fired generating plants while the rest of the world continues to build coal plants just as fast as they can.

The Clean Power Plan’s goal is to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030, mainly by closing coalfired power plants in the United States. Contrary to what the liberal environmental crowd will tell you, coal use continues to increase worldwide, especially in developing countries.

China, for example, uses four times as much coal as the United States, nearly as much as the rest of the world combined. And, China is continuing to build coal plants. In fact, China is building one new coal­fired power plant every seven to 10 days, while Japan plans to build 43 coal­fired power plants to replace its shuttered nuclear units.

By 2030, China alone will add an additional 1,344 gigawatts (GW) of coal­fired power. That’s not even counting the new coal­fired power plants that will be built in Japan, India and the rest of Asia.

Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, an arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, the Clean Power Plan will reduce U.S. coal­fired power by 90 GW by 2030. The EPA’s plan doesn’t even make a dent in the global increase in carbon emissions, much less lead to any global decrease. Any effect the Clean Power Plan will have on global carbon emissions is minuscule.

Currently, 1.3 billion people in the world have no electricity at all. They want and need electricity desperately, because they know that electricity will bring them out of the dark ages and give them an opportunity for a better quality of life, the kind of life we Americans take for granted.

Coal is the most reliable and affordable source for generating electricity available, and the developing countries are not going to give up an opportunity to better their lives in order to solve “climate change.” Apparently, only liberal Americans are naive enough to wreck our own economy for no benefit whatsoever.

If the goal is to reduce the effects of climate change, the EPA’s plan fails miserably.  A supporter of the EPA wrote recently, “If we do nothing, the costs of responding to the devastating results of climate change will far outweigh any costs of avoiding its catastrophic effect.”

The Clean Power Plan does nothing to relieve global climate change, but it will raise electricity prices for U.S. consumers and put the reliability of our electric grid at risk. No benefits at a big cost ­ now that’s a recipe for disaster.

Terry M. Jarrett was appointed to the Missouri Public Service Commission in 2007. During his six years as a state utilities regulator, he became a nationally recognized leader in energy, utility and regulatory issues. He served as chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Committee on Critical Infrastructure. He wrote this for InsideSources.com

See the article here.

EPA Plan Offers All Pain, No Gain

Via USA Today:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Power Plan unveiled Monday reflects political expediency, not the reality of supplying the nation with low cost, reliable power. The revisions that EPA made to this plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions amount to changes without any real difference.

States face even tougher targets for replacing affordable energy with more costly energy. This will burden Americans with increasingly high costs for an essential service and lead to a less reliable electric grid.

EPA concedes its plan is unrealistic by belatedly postponing the initial deadline for reducing emissions. But the targets left in place merely force rate payers into steeper cost increases in later years. In effect, EPA is insisting that families accept a subprime energy mortgage, but now with a balloon payment.

Low-income families will be hit the hardest. Higher costs for electricity are unendurable for many seniors on fixed incomes and for those in minority communities who have little or no discretionary income to pay for the lighting, heating and cooling of their homes.

Just when the nation’s employment picture is beginning to brighten, the EPA plan will cloud it as higher energy costs feed through the economy, forcing employers to cut payrolls. Low-wage jobs could be the first to suffer, but high-wage job growth will eventually slow as manufacturing industries struggle with the rising cost of power. A recent study from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association found that a 10% increase in electricity rates would destroy an average of 882,000 jobs annually between 2020 and 2040.

These sacrifices might be more palatable if EPA’s rule achieved commensurate environmental benefits. But it will not. American households and businesses will be forced to pay significantly higher electricity rates in exchange for what EPA admits are climate benefits so insignificant that it has never bothered to measure them.

The nation’s governors have a clear choice to make: Accept this flawed plan and put their citizens at risk, or reject it and challenge EPA’s authority and competence to manage their state’s energy economy from Washington.

Hal Quinn is president and CEO of the National Mining Association.

See the article here.

KY Gov. Beshear’s Statement on EPA Rule

FRANKFORT, Ky. – “I am extremely disappointed and frustrated by the huge changes the EPA made from the proposed rule. What is being proposed for Kentucky is disastrous – disastrous for our declining coal economy and equally disastrous for our very important manufacturing economy. The EPA claimed that it listened to the comments received on the proposed rule for the Clean Power Plan. It is clear from the emissions numbers the EPA has set for Kentucky that the agency did not listen to us. This rule leaves the Commonwealth with few, if any, alternatives to formulate a plan without significant harmful impact to rate payers, manufacturing companies and the overall economy.

Attorney General Jack Conway and I will continue to fight this onerous rule in the courts. During my entire term as Governor, I have remained steadfast in my support of Kentucky’s important coal and manufacturing industries, and the affordable energy and good jobs they provide the Commonwealth and the nation.

This is an extensive rule, and we will be meeting with stakeholders to assess its potential impacts. We will, however, continue to explore ways for Kentucky to comply with the rule should it become law, because we believe that a Kentucky specific plan would be better than a federal plan imposed on us.” – Gov. Steve Beshear.

See the press release here.

Mining Group Asks EPA to Stay its Climate Rule

Via The Hill:

The National Mining Association (NMA) is asking the Obama administration to stay its climate change rule for power plants pending judicial review.

The Washington D.C.-based national trade organization said the new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency, which President Obama will announce later today, is going to increase energy costs.

“EPA’s final Clean Power Plan reflects political expediency, not reality for supplying the nation with low cost reliable power,” NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn said in a statement. “Left in place are targets for replacing affordable energy with costly energy.”

Under the rule, the EPA is asking states to formulate plans to reduce carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Plans are due in September of 2016, but states that need more time will be able to request a two-year extension for final plan submissions. Compliance would begin in 2022 instead of 2020 and emission reductions would be phased in gradually up to 2030.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the NMA said the climate change rules are likely to be reversed on appeal, because Congress did not give the agency the power to restructure how the nation produces and consumes electricity.

“Congress did not even give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, much less EPA, that power,” the letter said. “Instead, Congress, in the Federal Power Act, preserved states’ inherent power over electric utility resource planning and development.”

Since more than 90 percent of coal sold in the U.S. is used for power generation, the NMA said the EPA rule would also cripple domestic coal production and eliminate thousands of mining jobs. The group is pushing the agency to stay the effectiveness of the rule until after it’s litigated on its merits.

“All of this time, effort, money and controversy will be for naught if the rule is overturned,” the NMA said in its letter to the EPA. “Worse, changes to the grid that states would not choose to make absent the rule will be locked in if a stay is not issued.”

During a press briefing Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked whether the administration would consider the National Mining Association’s request for a stay of the clean power plan.

“I’m not aware of any decision to do that,” he said.

NMA wasn’t the only industry group voicing its opposition to the rule on Monday. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) said it’s keeping all options on the table, including litigation, to protect manufacturers’ ability to compete in the global marketplace.

“This regulation will be exceptionally difficult for manufacturers to meet and will increase energy prices and threaten electric reliability,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said in a statement. “Manufacturers are committed to being responsible stewards of our environment, leading the way in that effort, and we are disappointed the Obama administration has chosen to pursue this path.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it’s also considering litigation to stop the rule it’s calling “an EPA regulatory power grab,” from taking effect.

“While the final rule will take some time to analyze, we know that it still has the same fundamental legal flaws and imposes the same unbearable costs as the original proposal, while having no measurable impact on global emissions,” Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue said in a statement. “With these rules, the EPA is trying to stretch its authority beyond recognition and to double down on its attempt to impose an unprecedented takeover of our energy system.”

See the article here.

Governor Pence Issues Statement on Carbon Dioxide Regulations

Indianapolis – Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issuing its final regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.  Known as the Clean Power Plan, the regulations impose a carbon dioxide emissions reduction requirement on each state.

“When it comes to energy policy, this Administration continues to place its environmental agenda ahead of the interests of Hoosier ratepayers, jobs and the economy. Here in Indiana, homeowners and businesses rely on coal-burning power plants for low-cost, reliable energy. Yet little to no consideration was given to states like ours throughout the development of the EPA’s final rule and that is simply not acceptable.

“Throughout this process, Indiana has called time and again for these ill-conceived rules to be withdrawn, and I informed the Administration that unless the final rule was demonstrably and significantly improved, Indiana would not comply. In the days ahead, my Administration will carefully review the final rule to determine if the Obama Administration was listening.

“If the final rule is not significantly improved, then Hoosiers can be assured that on behalf of families, businesses and other ratepayers, Indiana will not comply.

“Indiana will also continue to vigorously challenge the legality of this rule in the federal courts. Far too much is at stake for jobs and the economy in Indiana for us to do anything less.”

On June 24, 2015, Governor Pence sent President Obama a letter informing the President that Indiana would not comply with the Clean Power Plan unless the final rule was “demonstrably and significantly improved” from the proposed rule.  Governor Pence had previously written to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on December 1, 2014 describing the proposed rules as “ill-conceived and poorly constructed.”  In both letters, Governor Pence called for the withdrawal of the rules.

Read the press statement.

States Should Shun the EPA’s New Power Mandate

Via The Wall Street Journal:

On Monday President Obama is announcing the final version of his Clean Power Plan, the carbon-emission rules for power plants to secure his climate-change legacy. The plan is designed to hobble electricity generators much as the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 rule to reduce mercury and other emissions has harmed the coal industry.

Fortunately for consumers, on June 29 the Supreme Court slapped down the agency’s 2012 rule. In Michigan v. EPA, the court said the agency failed its legal obligation to compare the cost of its mercury standards with the benefits.

Reckless disregard for costs has also guided the agency’s Clean Power Plan. The White House promises Monday’s rule will offer more flexibility to meet emissions targets than an earlier draft, but the targets may be even more difficult to meet. That will force rate payers into steeper cost increases, and concessions the EPA makes to some states and industries will come at the expense of others.

If the EPA succeeds, Americans will be paying for decades. NERA Economic Consulting estimates that the Clean Power Plan will cost $366 billion and bring double-digit electricity-rate increases to 43 states. Regulators including the North American Electric Reliability Corporation warn that the plan could weaken the reliability of the national electric grid by forcing many power plants to close well before new ones can be built. Yet even the administration admits that the EPA plan will have only a trivial impact on the climate.

The Clean Power Plan gives each state an emissions budget and an ultimatum: Give us a plan to cut your carbon emissions using our assumptions about energy-efficiency improvements, green-energy construction, etc.—or we will impose a federal plan on your state. Never mind that most states have objected to the EPA plan.

Governors thus face a dilemma: Accept the EPA’s invitation by developing a state plan and open their states to lawsuits for any perceived breach, or decline to cooperate and take their chances with a federal plan.

The EPA says the Michigan decision has no bearing on the legality of the Clean Power Plan because the agency considered costs as it developed the rule. In all likelihood, the agency will again try to obscure the real costs of its regulations—by double-counting benefits derived from rules already on the books—as it did in the mercury rule.

But the Supreme Court’s decision in Michigan casts a longer shadow over EPA ambitions than the admonition to consider costs. The decision also affirmed the principle that an agency is not entitled to rewrite the law by selecting the legislative words it likes while discarding the ones it does not. The law directs the EPA to determine whether it is both “appropriate and necessary” to impose more regulatory burdens on power plants—but the agency heeded only the word “necessary,” altogether ignoring whether more regulations were “appropriate” in view of the massive potential costs. This, said the court, was an unreasonable interpretation.

This is where the agency’s hubris may be its undoing. In the Clean Power Plan, the EPA ignores words in the Clean Air Act that limit its standard-setting authority to individual sources of emissions. Instead, the agency targets the entire electricity industry as an emissions source. No words in the Clean Air Act plausibly—never mind reasonably—invite the EPA to coerce the wholesale transformation of state electric grids with arbitrary reduction targets.

The Clean Power Plan depends on states’ bowing to the EPA by drawing up plans that make their power supplies less diverse and more expensive. Without state complicity, the EPA’s ambitious carbon-reduction target is not achievable within the bounds of its legal authority and technical competence.

The governors of Oklahoma, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Indiana, Texas and Louisiana have already done the calculations and decided that the cost of collaborating with the EPA will be much higher than declining to do so. Especially with the legal prospects of the Clean Power Plan growing dimmer, there’s no reason for other governors to voluntarily turn the lights off on their economies.

Mr. Quinn is president and chief executive of the National Mining Association. Mr. Glaser, a partner at Troutman Sanders LLP, represented the association before the Supreme Court in Michigan v. EPA.

See the article here.

EPA Putting Affordable Energy in Jeopardy

Via State Journal-Register:

Too often in this country we address one problem only to create another problem more serious than the first.
I believe that is exactly what is happening with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants.

While reducing the environmental impact of how we generate power is a worthy goal, the EPA’s proposed approach requires too much, too fast. Should the agency gets its way, one economic study after another has shown the imposed cost on ratepayers would be tremendous.

Take a study by consulting group Energy Venture Analysis. It calculates the Clean Power Plan would drive up wholesale electricity costs in Illinois by nearly 20 percent.

For some Americans, energy bills are an afterthought. But for many the bills already are too high. Surging energy prices are an added burden they do not need and likely cannot bear. I fear the EPA and its environmental allies are racing to tackle the carbon problem without fully considering the real-world impacts of their policy approach.

Often the concerns of the poor, particularly poor minorities, and those on fixed incomes are steamrolled by the better connected and better funded. It is no secret that today’s environmental movement has the ear and the financial backing of many with deep pockets. This isn’t to say these folks don’t have good intentions — cleaner air and water are important — but their approach to meeting environmental goals always seems to come with ever-increasing price tags often disproportionately borne by the less fortunate.

We know the EPA has a history of downplaying, or ignoring, the cost of its regulations. The U.S. Supreme Court recently threw out its Mercury and Air Toxins rule because the agency did not properly assess the cost of the proposal. Now there are troubling signs that the EPA is taking the same misguided approach with its carbon proposal.

The EPA claims that although energy prices would rise under its plan, the cost to consumers would be minimal because folks would use less energy in the years ahead. But some people keep the heat low during the winter or the air conditioning off during the summer because they already can’t afford their energy bills. How are they supposed to use less energy?

If regulators think low-income or fixed-income folks have the means to rush out and buy more energy-efficient appliances, they are sorely mistaken.

Before we head too far down the EPA’s chosen path, shouldn’t we ask if there are other means to achieve emissions reductions? Let’s put some faith in the nation’s ability to innovate and address our environmental challenges with technological solutions. In just the past half decade, energy innovations made the United States the world’s largest producer of natural gas and reversed decades of falling oil production.

This same capacity for technological problem solving should be harnessed to reduce carbon emissions while simultaneously reducing energy costs, not raising them.

Lawmakers around the country are standing up to the EPA and making it clear the Clean Power Plan is a mistake. In Illinois and elsewhere in the Midwest, elected officials deserve our support for pushing back against the EPA’s dangerous proposal. While environmental groups are trying to vilify them for taking a stand against the proposed carbon rule, elected officials who look out for their constituents understand that trading marginal environmental gains for soaring energy prices is a bad deal.

Let’s all stay committed to improving the quality of air and water, but let’s make sure the policies we pursue give equal consideration to the needs of the less fortunate and our most vulnerable.

— Charles Steele, Jr., is president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights organization co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King.

See the article here.

 

The EPA vs. Colorado’s Minorities

Via The Pueblo Chieftain:

With the Obama administration only two months away from releasing its so-called “Clean Power Plan,” much debate has focused on the supposed benefits of cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions over the next 15 years. Lost amid the rhetoric, however, is the economic hardship it will impose on millions of working families—especially the 1.3 million blacks and Hispanics living in Colorado.

That’s the finding from a new study commissioned by my organization, the National Black Chamber of Commerce. In summary, this regulation will leave minority communities with disproportionately fewer jobs, lower incomes, and higher poverty than whites. Thus, while the administration calls its regulation a “justice issue” for minorities, its actual effects will amount to a severe injustice—and state lawmakers should act before it’s too late.

It’s important to understand why the impact will be so severe. For one, the regulation—which is enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency—will shutter much of our existing energy grid. The new facilities will necessarily cost more, and also rely on more expensive energy sources. Our study estimates this transformation will increase annual electricity costs by $565 billion in the coming years.

Ultimately, these higher costs will be passed onto families in the form of higher electricity bills and higher prices at every store.

This is especially harmful to blacks and Hispanics. Right now, blacks spend 50 percent more of their family incomes on utilities than whites, while Hispanics spend 10 percent more. This regulation will exacerbate these disparities, increasing the energy burden on both blacks and Hispanics by around 35 percent.

Then there’s the matter of lost income and lost jobs.

Broadly speaking, minorities typically have lower-paying jobs that are most vulnerable to regulatory cost increases. Ours are the first to be affected when business costs rise, such as the higher electricity bills this regulation will bring about.

Our study estimates cumulative job losses for blacks and Hispanics of 2.2 million and 3.8 million, respectively, over the next decade. We also estimate reduced household incomes for blacks and Hispanics by a respective $455 and $515.

These three effects—higher energy bills, fewer jobs, lower incomes—will lead to greater hardships on families already struggling to get by. Our study estimates the regulation will increase black and Hispanic poverty rates by 23 and 26 percent, respectively.

We simply cannot afford this. While we’re working hard to pursue the American dream and give our children the best shot at a better life, the EPA is pushing us even further down the ladder of opportunity.

Colorado state lawmakers must act to prevent this from happening. Some are: Fourteen states have already fought the regulation in federal court, where their arguments enjoy bipartisan support.

While that’s a good start, governors and state legislators should act, too. The regulation requires that unelected state environmental agencies draft implementation plans and submit them directly to the EPA. This completely sidesteps Colorado’s elected representatives and eliminates accountability from voters.

There are two ways to fix this problem. Governors can issue executive orders prohibiting their environmental agencies from submitting plans to the EPA. State legislators can pass legislation to the same effect. Either option ensures that elected officials, as representatives of the people, have the final say over what happens to their constituents.

These are common sense and simple solutions that could prevent the impending burdens facing millions of black and Hispanic families: fewer jobs, lower incomes, higher costs, and more poverty. Colorado lawmakers should do everything in their power to prevent that from happening.

Harry C. Alford is the president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

See the article here.