WASHINGTON – Fighting the federal government over proposed greenhouse gas rules for power plants is worth the legal costs, Gov. Mike Pence said Thursday in a news conference with an industry advocacy group aimed at encouraging more states to follow his lead.
“We do have a choice,” Pence said. “You can refuse to submit a state plan. You can challenge the EPA’s ability to impose a federal plan. There’s nothing illegal about saying ‘no’ on behalf of rate payers and businesses in your state.”
If enough states do that, the Environmental Protection Agency will be forced to capitulate, said Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance.
“The sheer enormity of having to potentially deal with a dozen or so federal implementation plans would overwhelm the EPA to the point where they would probably have to throw up their hands,” said Pyle.
Pence informed President Barack Obama in a letter last month that he would refuse to comply with the pending rules, unless they are substantially changed.
The rules, which are expected to be finalized this summer, are the cornerstone of the administration’s plan to curb climate change.
If states refuse to comply, the EPA has said it will impose its own plan. But that would delay implementation, even without the legal challenge Pence says he’s committed to make.
“We think we’ve got a strong opportunity to defend ratepayers, and I think it would be worth the fight,” he said about the cost of litigation.
Under the initial proposal, Indiana would have to reduce its emissions rate 20 percent by 2030.
The EPA has estimated that could be done by increasing plant efficiency, reducing energy demand through energy efficiency programs, switching to renewable energy sources and using natural gas instead of coal, which sends more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for the amount of energy produced than any other energy source.
Complying would raise rates in the region that includes Indiana by about 6 percent in 2020, the EPA estimates. By 2030, as the cost of making energy improvements and other efficiencies begins to pay off, the increase in rates due to the rule is projected to be less than 1 percent, according to the EPA.
Pence — who called Indiana a “proud pro-coal state” — said he questions the EPA’s estimates, and believes electricity rates would rise dramatically. A report for industry groups says costs would rise an average 12 percent.
Republican governors from Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Texas and Louisiana have indicated they will also defy the regulations.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Analysis Group of Boston is scheduled to release a report next week showing the economic benefits enjoyed by a group of Northeastern states that have already reduced carbon dioxide emissions through an emissions trading program. Closer to Indiana, Michigan GOP Gov. Rick Snyder is trying to make his state a national leader in revamping its energy portfolio to reduce its use of coal.
The Obama administration argues that failing to address climate change will hamper economic growth and put the health and well-being of Americans at risk from extreme weather events, wildfires, poor air quality, and illnesses transmitted by food, water, and disease carriers such as mosquitoes and ticks.
“Climate change is actually impacting the economy today,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told a congressional panel Thursday. “If you look at action on climate and see the kind of economic benefits it can provide that will not just protect us from escalating carbon, but grow a low-carbon future with new jobs, that is the goal post that all of us are looking for.”
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- On July 9, 2015