EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has been saying repeatedly that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants give states flexibility. “We’re particularly interested in making sure states and utilities can achieve emissions reductions along a flexible glide path so that they can meet their targets,” she said recently. “Flexibility is the key to this proposal.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Far from being flexible, the Clean Power Plan usurps the authority long held by states to determine their own energy policies.
At its core, the Clean Power Plan is nothing more than a Federal power-grab to control how electricity is generated and dispatched. Traditionally, states have set energy policies that require utilities to use low cost resource planning to generate electricity so prices remain affordable and keep the electric grid reliable.
The Clean Power Plan turns this sound strategy on its head. Under the EPA’s plan, coal, currently the most affordable and abundant fuel used to generate electricity, will be phased out and higher priced renewable energy, like wind, will take its place. Carbon resource planning will replace low cost resource planning. Grid reliability and cost will become subordinate to EPA’s environmental goals as they pursue the President’s green energy agenda. The generation of electricity will become more costly and less diverse, and states will have no power to stop it. Consumers will pay higher electric bills and face the possibility of blackouts, especially during times of peak usage.
Legal experts have begun to sound the warning. Harvard University Constitutional Law Professor Laurence A. Tribe, in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 16, said, “EPA’s plan will force States to adopt policies that will raise energy costs and prove deeply unpopular, while cloaking those policies in the Emperor’s garb of state “choice” – even though in fact the polices are compelled by EPA. Such sleight-of-hand offends democratic principles by avoiding political transparency and accountability.” Professor Tribe further testified that the plan exceeds the EPA’s authority under federal law and makes states subservient to Washington on energy and environmental matters.
This is significant because by and large, state utility and energy regulators are more accountable to the citizens in their states. Utility regulators are elected by a vote of the people in many states. In states where they are appointed, they must receive state legislative approval or confirmation for the most part. By contrast, the EPA’s vast Federal bureaucracy is anonymous and accountable to no one.
While not perfect, states have done a pretty good job over the last century to keep electricity prices affordable and the grid reliable. Allowing the EPA to gain control our nation’s electric system is terrible public policy and the height of folly. States should just tell the EPA, “no thanks.”
See the article here.
- On April 25, 2015