The problem for the president is that he is leading environmental activists, not his country. This regulation defies Congress, a majority of the states and public opinion. Congress has repeatedly rejected costly plans to cap carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, which is the real intention of this plan. More than half of the states have sued the EPA to stop the plan. And opinion polls by the Gallup organization continue to show voters won’t pay for it.
In fact, congressional majorities are preparing resolutions demanding the EPA withdraw the rule while they vote down the president’s spendy promises to finance U.N. climate change projects. Who says this is a “do nothing” Congress?
The plan also defies common sense. Logic doesn’t support claims by the EPA that replacing affordable sources of electricity like coal with far costlier sources will somehow lower electricity costs. On the contrary, the EPA’s climate change regulation amounts to an energy tax, and an expensive one.
A new analysis by Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA), an independent economic consultancy, shows the irreparable harm the CPP inflicts on the country, especially in 46 states due for double-digit increases in wholesale electricity prices.
By 2030, EVA projects Americans will have paid $214 billion more for wholesale electricity than they would pay without this regulation. The bills start to come due in 2022, when consumers will shell out an additional $15 billion a year, and by 2030 pay $31 billion a year more — overall a 21% cost increase. Add the costs of lost jobs in manufacturing, less affordable energy sources and the estimated $64 billion tab for replacing lost power plant capacity, and you begin to understand why only NRDC, the Sierra Club and billionaire hedge fund managers support it and why many others might view it as an energy tax.
That’s not what the EPA calls it. But with less money in the family budget for groceries, for the occasional evening out, for paying monthly bills, that’s what consumers might call it. Driving these costs is the Obama administration’s determination to eliminate fossil energy from the mix of fuels that generate electricity — regardless of the burden on households and businesses. Coal generates 39% of the nation’s electricity, more than any other fuel. So removing it from the fuel mix, especially in coal states, will raise demand — and prices — for alternative fuels to fill the gap.
The EPA dismisses the pain to consumers as “roughly the cost of a gallon of milk per month.” But most American families expect, and many low-income families rely, on affordable electricity to balance the budget. And it’s exactly affordable, coal-generated electricity that the administration now wants Americans to use less of. At the same time, this rule will increase the number of low-income American families.
When the president stands before his French hosts to intone his leadership on climate change, about 1.3 billion people won’t hear him. Without electricity, they don’t have TVs. Or health care, kids’ education, longevity.
Luke Popovich is a spokesperson for the National Mining Association, the industry’s trade group based in Washington, D.C.