Presidents are known for rushing new policies during their last two years in office. Without the pressure of re-election, they begin to focus on their legacies and often aggressively pursue partisan proposals.
We have seen this before, and we are seeing it now. What’s new is the scope and consequence of these actions. This month, the Obama administration is targeting our electricity and setting the stage for unprecedented harm to Nebraska families and our economy.
On August 3, 2015, President Obama finalized new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. This rule, known as the Clean Power Plan, attempts to reduce our state’s carbon emissions by 40 percent through punishing mandates. For Nebraska, this rule is even worse than initially expected. In fact, we are one of the “biggest losers” under the administration’s final rule because the reductions goals for our state are 50 percent more stringent than they were in the proposed rule.
The so-called Clean Power Plan is designed to favor certain sources of energy over others by unfairly targeting coal-fired power plants and forcing states to meet new emission requirements. To comply with these regulations, states will be rewarded for showing preference to renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and severely punished for using the existing abundance of fossil fuels. We have seen this charade before and the results are always the same. When the government interferes with the free market and innovation, the economy collapses.
Nebraska has the distinction of being the nation’s sole 100 percent public power state. Because of this, our citizens understand the dangers of overregulating our electricity system. This is why President Obama’s rule is so alarming: It will effectively shut down many of the existing coal-fired power plants that produce two-thirds of our state’s electricity. The result? Lights out.
Utilities in Nebraska are already expanding and investing in renewable energy sources. Our coal plants are leading the way by incorporating clean coal technology to reduce emissions while boosting our economy. But “one-size-fits-all” mandates from Washington are not the solution.
The plan’s negative consequences were illuminated in June by a panel of expert witnesses during a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. As a member of this committee, I asked the witnesses how the president’s proposed carbon regulations would affect middle- and low-income families, minority communities, and energy-intensive manufacturing operations. They provided sobering accounts of how the EPA’s plan would harm families and how these effects would far outweigh the alleged environmental benefits.
To combat the plan, I have joined Senator Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia to introduce the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act (ARENA). This bill would halt the damaging effects of the plan by requiring the EPA to demonstrate the viability of its proposal. It would require the EPA to study the rule’s effects at a minimum of six separate power facilities before implementing new mandates. Additionally, ARENA provisions would extend the compliance dates for the EPA’s new regulations until after a final judicial review of the proposal has occurred.
Put simply, our legislation will force the EPA to prove the economic benefits of this rule. It will also hold the EPA accountable for the harm this will inflict on Nebraskans and families across the nation.
I will continue to oppose this rule’s implementation and protect Nebraska from the administration’s unprecedented power grab. We cannot afford to roll the dice with our economy and the electricity you rely on in your daily life.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.
See the article here.