Later today, President Obama is expected to unveil the final version of the “Clean Power Plan” – a set of draconian new regulations administered by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which would increase energy costs and force an estimated 150,000-200,000 Americans out of their jobs. As NTU explained in a June vote alert in support of a bill to help mitigate the harm imposed by the new rule, the Clean Power Plan “sets state-by-state reduction targets for carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production. To meet these goals the plan requires states to submit compliance plans to the EPA for approval.”
For states that rely heavily on fossil-fuels for electricity production, the new rule will be especially harmful. To meet the emission reductions requirements coal-fired power plants could be forced to use costly, unproven carbon capture and sequestration technology, which could raise the cost of electricity by 75 percent according to the Congressional Budget Office. Some plants might be shuttered altogether. In order to comply with the new caps, some states might be forced to join regional cap and trade agreements or deploy subsidies to incentivize behavior. Regardless of how states move ahead, the result is the same: fewer energy choices, higher costs, and lost jobs – all at a time when our economy can least afford it.
After considering over four million comments – 703 of which were submitted by NTU members who urged the EPA to scrap the plan – today’s final rule is expected to be a mixed bag for taxpayers. The rule will extend the compliance deadline from 2020 to 2022 and push back the plan submission deadline from 2017 to 2018. On the downside, the rule’s total emission reduction target will be increased to a more aggressive cut of 32 percent, up from the previously issued 30 percent.
Serious constitutional concerns over the rule still remain. And the Supreme Court’s recent decision to block the EPA’s Utility MACT rule over cost-benefit problems give taxpayers hope that commonsense will prevail as the Clean Power plan moves to the courts. However, consumers shouldn’t wait for the courts to act. They should continue to urge Congress to push back against the new rule.