On Aug. 3 the Obama administration declared war on the Colorado economy. In the name of saving the planet from “climate change,” Coloradans will be required to pay sharply higher utility bills while restructuring our power generation plants to implement the costly – and likely unlawful – federal mandates for lower carbon emissions.
Under this EPA mandate, by 2030 Colorado must lower CO2 emissions from power plants by 40.5 percent. Meeting that goal will supposedly help reduce global warming. Yet, by EPA’s own statements, if the plan is fully successful, by 2030 it will reduce global warming by a whopping .015 degrees centigrade — that’s point zero one five — less than two one-hundredths of one percent.
Colorado consumers and the Colorado economy are going to pay a very high price for this infinitesimal change in global temperatures. Does this make sense?
The question facing the state’s lawmakers is how to oppose or scale back these ridiculous EPA mandates without help from Gov. Hickenlooper, who has welcomed these new federal mandates with open arms. “We will obey federal law,” the governor says.
Three state agency heads sent an eight-page letter to EPA last December listing many concerns and suggesting changes. Yet, about the only material change in the final rules favorable to Colorado is a two-year extension of the due date for the “interim goal” from 2020 to 2022. In fact, while 25 other states had their CO2 emission goals reduced, EPA raised Colorado’s 2030 goal from a 35 percent reduction to 40.5 percent reduction!
White House and EPA statements claiming the EPA plan will both stimulate economic growth and lower consumer utility bills are a joke. Experts outside the government say the EPA mandates will raise utility rates by 12 to 17 percent over the next decade, and the increase might be greater in Colorado. That’s not what our economy needs when so many are still struggling to recover from the Great Recession.
There is one other giant fly in the EPA ointment. According to many legal experts, Congress did not give EPA the power to derive environmental emission guidelines based on its assumptions about how a state’s electricity grid might work if they were in control. EPA’s scheme exceeds its authority in the Clean Air Act and violates the Federal Power Act. It also arguably violates the U.S. Constitution.
Sixteen state attorneys general have announced a lawsuit against the EPA, calling the agency’s “Clean Power Plan” both unlawful and a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers, due process and 10th Amendment protections.
Coloradans have seen this kind of federal government arrogance before. We see it in the new “Waters of the United States” rules issued by the EPA in June. Attorney General Coffman has joined a multi-state lawsuit challenging those rules.
Fundamental questions on EPA’s legal authority should be resolved in federal court before Colorado undertakes the costly process of developing a state plan for meeting EPA’s interim and long-term emission standards. However, there is a lot the state legislature can do while waiting for federal courts to rein in the EPA.
New legislation is needed to strengthen the role and mission of the state Public Utilities Commission in responding to this federal mandate. The PUC should be given a larger role in protecting utility ratepayers and the safety and security of the power grid.
Legislative committees also can hold oversight hearings to hold state agencies accountable. We can hope the governor will join us in seeking answers to serious questions instead of looking and sounding like an EPA cheerleader.
State Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Steamboat Springs, represents District 8. He is majority whip, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, vice-chair of the Capitol Development Committee and a member of the Agriculture; Natural Resources, & Energy; Business, Labor, & Technology committees.
See the article here.
- On August 16, 2015