Monday, the Obama Administration took a major step toward shutting down the US
coal industry, a stated goal from his presidential campaign. The Environmental
Protection Agency proposed sweeping new regulations to limit so-called
“greenhouse gas” emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. These
regulations would make coal-powered electrical generation in the US
uneconomical. Under this plan, “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket”
as the President promised in his 2008 campaign.
To what gain? The Wall
Street Journal reported, “Based on the EPA's own carbon accounting, shutting
down every coal-fired power plant tomorrow and replacing them with zero-carbon
sources would reduce the Earth's temperature by about one-twentieth of a degree
Fahrenheit in a hundred years.”
The effect of these regulations on the
environment is up for debate, but what is not debatable is the severe impact on
American prosperity that will come about as a result. Coal-powered plants
currently produce nearly 40% of US electrical energy. Artificially reducing the
energy supply by eliminating coal and retiring coal-powered plants will both
increase prices and create shortages.
Energy price increases hit the
poor three times as hard as middle income Americans. The lowest 10% of earners
spend three times as much of their incomes on electricity as do middle income
earners. The Administration’s “war on affordable energy” is clearly a war on
the poor and a war on jobs.
Distortions in energy costs will
disproportionately impact certain industries and disadvantage particular states,
a further redistribution of income. Natural gas prices will rise as electricity
generation becomes a larger competitor in that market. American manufacturers
will lose sales in international markets as U.S. cost skyrocket. Every American
business that uses electricity – and that is every American business – will have
higher costs, and that means inflation in the prices of
Generating plant closures will diminish the reliability of
the electrical grid. Rolling blackouts and usage restrictions on electrical
appliance use will be necessary to ration the lower supply. The public impact
will be huge. You might not notice a small change in average global temperature,
but you will notice when you can't turn on the lights.
The proposed new
EPA regulations that will so dramatically affect every American, but will
potentially only have a miniscule an impact on the environment, will not be put
up for a vote. I have initiated a letter to the EPA Administrator opposing
these proposed rules, and I will work in Congress to avert this disaster.