Via The Gazette:
On Aug. 3, President Barack Obama laid out the final version of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. In the wake of the EPA’s role in the Animas River disaster, which so far has dumped 3 million gallons of wastewater into the river, Coloradans should rightfully be wary of the way the EPA will implement the Clean Power Plan – and according to new polling, they are.
While Obama and EPA head Gina McCarthy have been busy touting the potential benefits of the Clean Power Plan, both have ignored the very real costs it will impose on coal-powered states, like Colorado.
Polling commissioned by the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank, found that 65 percent of Coloradans rated their state’s environmental quality “very good” or “excellent.” A different poll conducted by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry and the National Association of Manufacturers found that 76 percent of registered voters rated Colorado’s air quality as “good” or “excellent.”
If an overwhelming majority of residents in Colorado already think the environmental and air quality in the state are fine, then why is there a need for heavy-handed federal regulations that could come with several negative externalities?
A majority of Coloradans are skeptical of the Clean Power Plan when presented with the likely negative impacts if it’s implemented.
The Independent Institute’s poll found that 59 percent of Colorado residents are more likely to oppose the Clean Power Plan if the rule resulted in electricity bill increases – which it is expected to do. In a preliminary analysis of the Clean Power Plan, the group NERA Economic Consulting calculated that the new regulations could increase retail electricity prices between 12 to 17 percent – which translates to as much as $240 more per year for electricity.
Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they would oppose the plan if it meant increased poverty rates in black and Hispanic communities – which is likely according to the National Black Chamber of Commerce. In a recent op-ed, Harry Alford, president of the Chamber, ripped the Clean Power Plan, saying it would lead to job losses, lower incomes and higher poverty for minorities. A study conducted by the Chamber found that by 2030 the Clean Power Plan will lead to $565 billion in higher annual electricity costs.
By raising energy prices, the EPA rule will make essential items more expensive because having higher electricity costs doesn’t just mean a higher utility bill; it means higher prices on food, clothing and any other item you buy from a store that uses electricity. Lower- and fixed-income individuals spend a greater percentage of their income on electricity and essential items, so they would be negatively affected at a much greater rate.
In 2013, 64 percent of electricity generated in Colorado came from coal. The state ranks 11th in the country in terms of coal production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Colorado is without a doubt a coal-powered state, but as the surveys show, the state and coal plants in the state have done a really good job at keeping pollution levels down and the environmental quality in Colorado high.
The EPA’s plan seeks to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions 32 percent by 2030. In order for Colorado to be compliant, it would need to reduce its emissions by 40 percent, since it is a larger producer of these emissions.
The EPA is seeking to accomplish this by forcing state environmental protection agencies to develop plans on how they will reduce the amount of carbon emissions produced in their states, and then having the state agencies send those plans to the federal EPA in Washington, D.C., so that they can enforce the implementation of the plans. The EPA is demanding that plans be submitted to them by 2022.
But with so many residents rightfully concerned about the negative impacts of the Clean Power Plan, many are wondering what Colorado’s options are moving forward.
The best option for states, particularly in coal country, would be to not comply with the EPA’s mandate and not submit carbon emission reduction plans.
Attorneys general in 16 states have joined a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s ruling, and submitting plans to the EPA while waiting for the litigation to play out would undermine the legal challenges against the Clean Power Plan. Colorado’s attorney general, Cynthia Coffman, has not decided on whether or not the state will join the multistate lawsuit against the EPA, but Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has said in the past that he will direct state officials to comply with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan rules.
Nearly 6 out of 10 surveyed in the Independence Institute poll said the state should wait to comply, and half of those surveyed said the state should at least determine the cost of compliance before complying.
Gov. Hickenlooper should listen to the residents of the state and not submit a carbon emission reduction plan to the EPA. The Clean Power Plan represents an unprecedented overreach into state electricity production affairs by the federal government. With Coloradans still wondering what exactly the EPA was thinking when it dumped millions of gallons of wastewater into the Animas River, they are rightfully hesitant to embrace officials from outside the state meddling in their environmental affairs. Regardless of the EPA’s role in the Animas disaster, the Clean Power Plan is bad public policy that will raise the price of electricity in Colorado and make life more difficult for the most vulnerable residents of the state.
Erik Telford is president of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.
See the article here.
- On August 25, 2015