Searching for the Power Plan’s Benefits

July 7, 2016

In a House subcommittee hearing this week, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) echoed the doubts of many when he questioned the benefits of this administration’s anti-coal regulations –  leaving aside the legality of them. In a “where’s the beef” remark, Rep. Barton told agency air chief Janet McCabe he was hard pressed to find any benefits of rules, including the so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP), but would welcome “scientifically proven” evidence of their existence.

While he waits for McCabe to comb NRDC’s website for a benefit tally, on the other side of the country, we may be seeing a foretaste of what’s to come should the CPP become reality. California utilities are asking customers to use less electricity and grid operators at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are warning of reliability concerns. The reason: The Golden State’s pioneering cap and trade program that discourages fossil fuels in favor of renewable sources. Adding to unanticipated problems with natural gas supplies are now nuclear plant closures – the latest announced last week by PG&E – that together are suddenly leaving the energy hungry state vulnerable to power shortages.

What’s this got to do with the CPP? Plenty, says Travis Fisher, an economist with the Institute for Energy Research. “The Clean Power Plan was sort of modeled after the California approach,” he told Argus. The CPP, basically a cap and trade scheme foisted on the nation, not only targets coal units with early retirement, it also forces nuclear plant closures because EPA doesn’t credit nuclear power’s contributions toward the CPP’s emission reductions goals.

While we wait for proven evidence that there will be any benefits to the radical anti-coal regulations, some things are proven. The Supreme Court issued a stay of the rule and yet the EPA continues to march ahead with implementation. Americans are losing jobs; May’s jobs report was the worst since May 2010. And early warning signs flashing from our biggest state show that affordable, reliable energy may soon become a thing of the past.