Higher energy bills, fewer jobs, lower incomes and more poverty: That’s what lies in store for already struggling black, Hispanic and other minority families if the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan is allowed to go into effect.
Enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and unveiled last year, the plan seeks to impose unrealistically strict new limits on carbon monoxide emissions that would shutter most of our nation’s existing energy grid. In order to meet the plan’s requirements, power companies would have to build expensive new facilities and rely on more expensive energy sources than the all-of-the-above energy mix they use today. Ultimately, those costs would be passed onto consumers in the form of higher electricity bills and higher consumer prices.
Minnesota needs to keep its current all-of-the-above regional energy policy that uses a healthy balance of fossil fuels, including coal, and renewable-energy sources. That’s a sound strategy that protects our economy and provides affordable, reliable electricity for our homes and businesses.
Coal is a vital part of the equation because it provides low-cost, reliable power and thousands of jobs, and its production generates a tremendous amount of economic activity in the region. With coal as the source of 46 percent of the electricity used in Minnesota, Minnesotans’ current electricity rates are lower than the national average. However, without coal as part of the energy mix, those rates would increase, adversely affecting families, communities and manufacturing sectors.
Those consequences would affect black and minority families more than any other demographic. A study commissioned by my National Black Chamber of Commerce estimated the new regulations would increase black and Hispanic poverty rates by 23 percent and 26 percent, respectively. Generally, minorities have lower-paying jobs that are the first to be affected when business costs rise, such as higher electricity bills. In fact, the study showed that blacks, Hispanics and other minorities would lose more than 11 million jobs in urban communities nationwide if the Clean Power Act is implemented.
The EPA seems to have no concept of what it takes to support a family, run a business or save for retirement. The burdensome federal regulations that come with this latest power grab would impose untold economic hardship on millions of working families, especially the nearly 1 million blacks and Hispanics in Minnesota. Wealthy people can afford to put solar panels on their roofs or spend extra money on monthly electric bills so they feel better about the way their electricity is produced. The poor don’t have that luxury.
Nearly half the states in the nation are pushing back against the new EPA rules. Last fall, a coalition of 27 states filed suit to challenge the Clean Power Plan. They accused the EPA of going far beyond the authority Congress granted it by ordering a significant transformation of states’ electricity generation — specifically, forcing states to move away from fossil fuels like coal and toward lower-carbon power sources like wind and solar. They were successful in February when the Supreme Court ordered a stay, which immediately stopped the plan’s implementation, while it works its way through the courts.
There are two ways you can help fight this problem at the state level. Ask Gov. Mark Dayton to issue an executive order prohibiting Minnesota environmental agencies from submitting plans to the EPA. Then ask your state senator and representative to pass legislation to the same effect. Tell them you want the people of Minnesota — not the EPA — to decide how their electricity will be generated. (If you have questions about how to do this, call the National Black Chamber of Commerce at 202-466-6888.)
When it’s winter in Minnesota, it’s cold. When it’s summer, it’s hot. Affordable electricity is a necessity. However, with its move to enforce the Clean Power Plan, Washington is forcing black and minority families into a position where they may soon find it impossible to heat or cool their homes, feed their families or provide the other essentials of daily living. That’s not right, and that’s why Minnesota needs an all-of-the-above energy strategy that includes coal.
See the article here.
- On May 2, 2016