Via The Denver Post:
By John Cooke and Jerry Sonnenberg
It’s always wise to be wary when Washington offers to do you a favor. As with the money Washington sends our way, there are almost always strings attached or a trap door hidden somewhere.
And so it is with the favor President Barack Obama did for states when he sought to impose a national Clean Power Plan through an EPA regulatory change, effectively taking control of power plants in all 50 states, in the name of combatting climate change.
The Environmental Protection Agency imposed the benchmarks, because Washington always knows best, but it did states that favor by tossing in our laps the question of how to meet this seemingly impossible mandate under the breakneck timeline allowed.
That leaves Colorado free to write a carbon-reduction plan for our power plants that complies with the EPA orders, hopefully without ruining our economy or bankrupting utility ratepayers. That plan, whatever it eventually looks like, will have profound implications for Colorado’s economy.
That’s why Senate Republicans are offering Senate Bill 258, the Colorado Electric Consumers’ Protection Act, which will bring needed transparency and accountability to Colorado’s planning process. It requires that any state plan, before it’s submitted to the EPA, receives a full public airing and a thumbs-up (or thumbs-down) from our elected state legislators.
The more than 35 percent cut in power-plant emissions Colorado must make under the EPA mandate will come with serious costs and consequences. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that Obama’s climate mandates will cost the economy an average of 224,000 jobs per year, and lower U.S. gross domestic product by $51 billion per year, through 2030. One independent study predicted the plan will cost the average Colorado residential ratepayers $613 per year by 2020, while commercial users — meaning businesses — will see a 52 percent increase.
In order to meet the mandates, perfectly functional power plants could be shuttered prematurely, forcing construction of costly replacements. And the concentration of regulatory power required to force statewide compliance may profoundly change the way all Colorado utilities operate, whether public, private, municipal or co-op.
That such changes could be approved without wider review and full public debate is unthinkable and, frankly, undemocratic. Average Coloradans must have a seat at the table they don’t have now. Regulation without representation is as un-American as taxation without representation.
Specifically, our bill requires that, before the state can approve a plan with the EPA, that plan must be reviewed with full public hearings by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, in order to report probable impacts on utility rates, reliability and the state’s economy. And finally, the state plan must be approved by both houses of the legislature.
This process adds the transparency, accountability and public debate that’s totally lacking now. It puts the elected representatives of the people on the record, yes or no, so Coloradans know who stood where when the costs and consequences of complying with Obama’s radical climate crusade come crashing down.
State Sen. John Cooke represents Senate District 13. State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg represents Senate District 1.
See the article here.
- On April 14, 2015