By Senator David Sater, R-Cassville
Early this week, President Obama announced his plans to use the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose more government control and regulation over U.S. carbon emissions. In a 1,560-page EPA rule, Obama is requiring power plants to reduce emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 while forcing each state to meet different emission targets by a certain date. Those emission cuts range from an 11% reduction in North Dakota to 72% in Washington. Missouri would be forced to reduce its carbon emissions from 67.3 million tons in 2020 to 55.4 million tons in 2030, a decrease of almost 18 percent.
There are two options (if you can call them options) for states to comply with the new regulations. Either states can voluntarily develop state plans that meet arbitrary EPA assumptions or standards or face an ultimatum – the federal government will impose a plan on you.
The first option is designed so that states will share in the blame when electricity rates soar, jobs are lost (even EPA analysts agree it will result in job losses), and the energy grid is put at risk. Any which way you slice it, electric rates will go up. NERA Economic Consulting estimates that the Clean Power Plan will cost $366 billion and bring double-digit electricity-rate increases to 43 states. On top of that, many regulators are warning that the plan could destabilize the national electric grid by forcing many power plants to close before new ones can be built. Those new power plants would have to be built with carbon capture and storage, technology that is not fully developed or cost-effective.
The fact is, stable energy policy is essential to our economy. Fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, provided 87 percent of America’s energy needs in the past decade and have been the overwhelming supplier for over a century. Missouri relies on coal for nearly 83 percent of its electricity needs, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. A plan that requires us to change our source of power so drastically and so quickly will be devastating to our economy. The Heritage Foundation estimates that electricity prices will increase by an average of 17 percent between 2017 and 2031 if Obama and the EPA have their way. Nick Loris, an energy economist also with the Heritage Foundation,wrote that the “cumulative economic impact of higher energy prices will be hundreds of thousands of jobs lost and more than $2.5 trillion in lost economic growth.”
Obama’s new regulation comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court flatly rejected the EPA’s 2012 energy rule to reduce mercury and other emissions. In Michigan v. EPA, the court said the Obama Administration and the EPA failed its legal obligation to compare the cost of its mercury standards with the benefits. In other words, the EPA didn’t care how much it would cost the American people, they were going to impose their regulations regardless. I don’t always agree with the Supreme Court, especially not lately, but they got this one right.
The situation puts Missouri in a tough spot. Do we develop our own state plan and be complicit in the federal government raising our energy prices and killing Missouri jobs? I don’t know about you but I am tired of this relationship between the states and the federal government where we have to ask for permission to do something the Constitution already gives us the authority to do or we are forced into doing something through threats of withheld funding or fines. If we go along with the “Clean Power Plan” the EPA or administration could change it at their whim and put all authority in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. Our other option is a better one. The governors of Oklahoma, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Indiana, Texas and Louisiana have already refused to submit state plans of compliance with the “Clean Power Plan” and 13 states are challenging the plan in federal court as unconstitutional. Needless to say, the plan’s prospects are far from certain. Missouri should join this lawsuit and refuse to go along with the plan. Doing otherwise is guaranteed to hurt our economy, put Missourians out of work, and raise our electric rates. That combination will do nothing but hurt Missouri.