Mississippi is finally showing signs of a recovery from the devastating impact of the “great recession.” Incomes and investment are beginning to grow again. The recovery is still fragile, however. The state is a long way from recovering all of the jobs it lost, and job growth in 2014 was the ninth lowest in the nation.
The last thing Mississippi needs now is something that will knock the recovery off track, but that’s exactly what bureaucrats in Washington seem intent on doing. Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from America’s electric power plants. The plan would require a 30-percent reduction in carbon emissions from electricity production by 2030.
Mississippi would be required to cut its emissions by even more “37 percent” even though its emissions are already among the lowest in the country. Even worse, Mississippi can ill afford the plan’s high costs, which will disproportionately hit those who are already struggling: seniors, the poor and those still looking for work in the state’s fragile economy.
Economists who looked at the impact of the EPA plan on the state recently estimated that it will push Mississippi’s retail electricity prices up by at least 14 percent. That estimate assumes Mississippians will substantially reduce the amount of electricity they use in the coming years. If they don’t, prices could increase by almost 20 percent.
Absorbing an increase like that would be hard for any state. For Mississippi, it could be disastrous for the economy as a whole and for countless individuals and families already struggling to make ends meet. Almost two-thirds of the state’s households already spend over 20 percent of their after-tax income on energy. And one-third of the state’s households are seniors or others who rely on Social Security. They can’t afford another economic hit.
I know from personal experience working with seniors in Mississippi and around the country that a jump in the cost of a necessity, like electricity, can often be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Something in their budgets will have to give — spending on heat, spending on medications, maybe even spending on food.
In addition to effectively imposing a tax increase on Mississippi’s seniors and low- and middle-income families, the EPA plan would deal another blow to the state’s job growth. Coal could become an endangered species in Mississippi, along with the thousands of jobs that depend on it.
And the kicker is that all this economic sacrifice will come for naught. Even if the U.S. reduces its carbon emissions by 30 percent, rising emissions from developing nations, particularly Asian nations like China and India, will quickly overwhelm our cuts. China, for example, now burns nearly as much as coal as the rest of the world combined. The Clean Power Plan is a costly burden we must avoid.
Urge Gov. (Phil) Bryant and the state’s elected officials to oppose the EPA’s plan. The nation needs a full economic recovery and an energy policy that puts affordable energy before a misguided climate crusade.
Jim Martin is chairman of the 60 Plus Association, a nonpartisan seniors advocacy group.
See the article here.
- On March 21, 2015