Louisiana is at an economic crossroads. After outperforming much of the nation over the last few years, the state’s economy has been hit hard by the sudden drop in oil prices. Unemployment is up and the state is facing a growing budget gap. Times are hard and the Obama administration is making them harder.
At the president’s direction, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced its proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent from America’s electric power plants by 2030. The potential cost to consumers is staggering.
Under the plan, Louisiana is expected to reduce its emissions 39 percent — a reduction target greater than four out of five states. This mandated transformation of the state’s electricity system is going to be exorbitantly expensive. A recent economic study of the plan concluded that it will force the price of electricity in Louisiana to jump by at least 16 percent. That forecast assumes that Louisianans will substantially cut back on the amount of electricity they use. If they can’t, prices could skyrocket by close to 25 percent.
A jump in the cost of electricity will not only hurt the competiveness of businesses in Louisiana but it’s going to take more precious dollars out of the pockets of the folks who can least afford it. In Louisiana, 56 percent of families spend over one-fifth of their income on energy. And nearly a third of the state’s households rely on Social Security to make ends meet. When the price of a necessity, like electricity, goes up, it’s low-income folks and people on fixed incomes, such as our seniors, who feel it the most.
Not a single Louisianan, not a single American, should have to decide whether they will have to go without energy, food, or needed medications because policies dreamed up in Washington have pushed electricity prices artificially high.
There was a time when the nation’s energy policy focused on providing affordable and secure energy for every American. Today, those priorities have been replaced by a misguided focus on reducing emissions. For all the talk about getting our economy back on track, about rebuilding our manufacturing sector and tackling income inequality, the Obama administration and EPA are pursuing a regulatory agenda that can only send us backwards.
Environmental considerations deserve their place at the table but the Obama administration is asking so much for what, exactly? The U.S. cannot reduce global carbon emissions by itself. We are not even the world’s largest carbon emitter. China owns that title. Even if we were to follow through with the Clean Power Plan, and its exorbitant costs, our emissions reductions would be quickly overwhelmed by surging emissions from developing economies overseas.
President Obama and his supporters hope that by implementing the Clean Power Plan other nations will sacrifice their economic growth as well and follow our lead. That’s wishful thinking and not the sound analysis that should underpin a policy that could do so much economic harm.
Louisiana has joined 12 other states in suing the federal government to stop it from imposing its emissions mandate on the states. Your elected officials need to hear your support on this critically important issue. Tell them the Clean Power Plan is a mistake we simply cannot afford.
Jim Martin is the chairman of the 60 Plus Association. Founded in 1992, 60 Plus is a non-partisan seniors advocacy group with a free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors issues. Learn more at 60plus.org.
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- On March 27, 2015