Floridians, like all Americans, are accustomed to powering their lives with electricity that is abundantly available, reliable and affordable. The impact of recent hurricanes has reminded us how much our lives revolve around that all-important supply of power. Life without electricity means no air conditioning, no cellphones, no computers and no ability to pump gasoline — just to name a few. The absence of available, reliable and affordable electricity means inconvenience for all and economic hardship for many of Florida’s most vulnerable.
For these reasons, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration should be applauded for their decision to roll back the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration mandate for electricity producing power plants to reduce CO2 emission by 30 percent by 2030. This unsustainable plan was nothing more than a regulatory way to get around Congress’ refusal to adopt a “cap and trade” scheme in 2010. In effect, it was a takeover of our nation’s electrical power grid via federal regulation, something that has always been under the authority of the states.
With this action, Pruitt is saving the country from implementation of the CPP, which would be devastating for consumers and our nation. The plan would have forced Florida and 46 other states to systematically limit the kind of power plants we rely on for our power and force us to shift to other energy sources — ones that as yet remain as untested as they are unreliable.
While the EPA’s estimates have been repeatedly shown to underestimate the cost of the CPP and exaggerate the benefits, an independent study has found that Florida’s electricity prices face an 11 percent average annual increase, with a peak year increase of 15 percent.
An annual update to the Energy Cost Impacts on American Families study indicates that, indeed, Americans spend a significant amount of their incomes on energy. Data compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, and U.S. Energy Information Administration show that 40 percent of American families (51 million households) take home an average of $1,643 each month and spend 17 percent of that on energy bills.
The news is even grimmer for the most vulnerable Americans. According to the same study, the poorest 25 million families spend a whopping 22 percent of their monthly income on electricity and gas. American families should not have to balance their ability to keep the lights on against cutting back on other basic necessities. For many families, though, CPP would have made that stark choice ever closer to becoming a reality.
This disturbing news clashes with the fact that the United States is home to some of the most abundant energy resources in the world. Our country is quickly becoming a major producer of oil and natural gas. Coal, long a staple in the national energy mix, has seen substantial investments, totaling upwards of $122 billion by the end of the year, to make its use cleaner. Since the 1970s, coal has become 92 percent cleaner to use.
And yet, despite the good news, national average electricity prices have continued to creep up, consuming more and more of family budgets. Since 2005, prices have climbed by 33 percent when adjusted for inflation.
What drives these prices ever upward? There are many factors, but some of the blame can rightly be placed on the shoulders of the politicians and bureaucrats in our nation’s capital. Unelected bureaucrats at the EPA have been incredibly busy in recent years churning out regulations that have cost the economy and consumers billions of dollars. CPP is perhaps the most visible and devastating.
In the battle to protect America’s energy resources, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, along with other states’ attorneys general, pushed back against federal overreach by suing the EPA over the CPP. Very much to their credit, they secured an unprecedented delay from the Supreme Court while they work for a total overturn. Now, that day is here thanks to the leadership of Pruitt and the Trump administration.
Ensuring available, reliable and affordable electricity should be of utmost concern to policymakers, both in Washington and in Tallahassee. The decision to roll back CPP makes providing such electricity sustainable, and that helps us all. Today, when you flip on your light switches or adjust the thermostat on your air conditioning, remember to say, “Thank you.”
See the article here.