On Oct. 23, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published its final carbon dioxide regulation, the so-called Clean Power Plan or carbon rule. This set off a wave of legal challenges, with more than half of the states, including Wisconsin, suing to block the regulation.
As we highlighted in a previous opinion piece, the MacIver Institute, in conjunction with the Beacon Hill Institute, issued a report assessing the impact of the proposed carbon rule on Wisconsin. Our study estimated the rule would cost Wisconsin $313 million in 2030 as well as damage manufacturing, reduce employment and decrease real disposable income. Furthermore, a report conducted by NERA Economic Consulting estimated that the proposed rule could raise electricity prices by 14%, on average, between 2017 and 2031.
Unfortunately, the final rule is even stricter than the proposed regulation, and the negative effects on Wisconsin households will be even worse. States that generate most of their electricity from coal-fired sources, such as Wisconsin (nearly 62% in 2014), received more stringent carbon emissions reductions from EPA under the final rule. According to analysis from E&E Publishing, the final rule increased Wisconsin’s emissions cuts to 41.1% by 2030 under 2012 levels — 20% higher than the reductions required by the proposed rule.
The final rule forces Wisconsin to drastically change how we generate electricity to keep the lights on and heat our homes. As EPA’s rule pushes utilities to depend on unreliable renewable energy resources, fully functioning coal plants will be prematurely shuttered and these higher costs will show up in families’ electric bills.
A recent study from the Institute for Energy Research found that existing sources of electricity cost less than new sources of the same type. Furthermore, existing coal plants are nearly three times less expensive than new wind resources and almost half as expensive as new natural gas plants. Ultimately, retiring Wisconsin’s coal plants will place a cost premium on electricity for Wisconsin families, particularly those with low-incomes who spend a significant share of their earnings on energy.
The good news is that the opposition to the president’s dictatorial attempt to change a fundamental of life — how we heat and light our homes and businesses — is strong here in Wisconsin and across the nation. Wisconsin joined with 23 other states in a lawsuit against EPA’s rule (two other states filed separate suits). Gov. Scott Walker has consistently spoken out against the regulation, labeling it “unworkable” and renaming it the “Costly Power Plan.” Last December, Walker, legislators and state officials all submitted letters to EPA criticizing the proposed rule. They recognize that forcing the closure of affordable, reliable coal-fired power and replacing it with intermittent technologies such as wind power raises energy prices, threatens grid reliability and interferes with Wisconsin’s right to regulate our own energy markets.
Wisconsin’s leaders were right to oppose the proposed rule; they have even more reason to fight the final rule. To protect our citizens from Obama’s carbon rule, Wisconsin should pursue a “do no harm” approach by refraining from submitting a state plan in September 2016 and stopping any premature implementation by state regulators and utilities. There is no downside to this approach, as the EPA itself has said states do not have to submit a full plan or make binding commitments in 2016, buying time for the legal challenge.
Waiting for the courts to weigh in before submitting a state implementation is the most effective path to stop the president’s devastating attempt to force higher energy costs on Wisconsinites and protect families from this bureaucratic overreach.
See the article here.
- On November 2, 2015