For decades, thanks to the smart management of resources and utilities, Montana’s residents have benefited from some of the lowest energy costs in the nation. But, if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gets its way, those affordable electricity bills will be gone, skyrocketing as much as 25 percent.
Driving this impending threat of higher energy prices is the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, a sweeping emissions reduction proposal that is designed to cut carbon emissions from electric power generation by 30 percent by 2030. Because the plan takes sharpest aim at coal-powered generation, which accounts for more than 50 percent of the state’s electricity, the potential economic damage could be tremendous.
Less coal power in Montana, as well as across the nation, will not only mean less affordable energy but less mining jobs. The double hit of higher electricity prices and a reeling mining industry could very well send the state’s unemployment rate right back to levels not seen since the Great Recession.
Among those likely to be hardest hit by the EPA’s foolhardy plan will be lower income folks and the 20 percent of Montanans over the age of 60. Many seniors depend on Social Security to pay their bills and meet the extra necessities that often come with expanded medical and medication costs.
Representing 7.2 million seniors nationwide, I hear every day their concerns and worries. Living hand-to-mouth on fixed incomes and meager Social Security checks is not what most of them had envisioned for their golden years. It is not uncommon for seniors to silently suffer by skipping meals and medication and keeping their thermostats turned uncomfortably low.
If Gov. Steve Bullock goes along with the EPA’s demands, I fear it will make tough circumstances for many seniors nearly impossible. We need to focus on providing more affordable energy, not less.
While a cleaner energy mix is a laudable goal, sweeping regulation that places the heaviest burden on those that can least afford it is the wrong way forward. The EPA’s plan may help to cut U.S. carbon emissions but our sacrifice — borne out in higher energy prices — will be for not if others don’t follow suit. It’s no secret that we are no longer the world’s largest carbon emitter. China, which uses nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined and whose appetite for energy grows by the hour, now holds that crown. Rising emissions from China and dozens of other developing nations will quickly overwhelm the EPA’s proposed cuts.
The moment has arrived for Bullock to take a stand for the people he represents and tell the EPA no. The EPA’s proposal requires each state to submit a plan for meeting Washington’s carbon reduction targets.
By refusing, Montana can show that its people and their hard work mean more than abstract targets dreamed up by Washington bureaucrats.
Jim Martin of Alexandria, Va., is founder and chairman emeritus of the 60 Plus Association, a group sometimes billed as a conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons.
See the article here.
- On August 13, 2015