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Yet as this administration continues to demonstrate, a lack of support from the legislative branch of the federal government is nothing more than a minor impediment. “What has been stated from the White House is that the president’s advisers would advise him to veto any legislation that passed that would take away the EPA’s greenhouse gas authority. Nothing has changed,” said EPA head Lisa Jackson to reporters last February. This was her response to congressional threats aimed at thwarting her intention to impose new regulations without legislators’ input. The House of Representatives passed the “Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011” prohibiting the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act by a 255-172 margin. Yet the bill failed in the Senate, where a 50-50 vote fell short of the two-thirds needed to over-ride a certain veto by the president.
Thus, the power of the EPA and its intentions to implement a broad scope of measures designed to combat global warming remains largely undiminished. Where could this be leading? Bill White from the Office of the Federal Coordinator for the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Project explains. “Federal environmental regulators have proposed four sets of rules that together act as kind of a quadruple whammy on the coal-fired power generation industry…they likely would cost the industry billions and pull the plug on many gigawatts of coal-fired electricity generators,” said White.
Mr. White’s assessment was echoed by Bruce Braine, vice president for strategic policy analysis with American Electric Power company (AEP), who noted that, while the proposed rules would go into effect in four years, “It can take five years to install a major piece of pollution control equipment.” As a result, he predicted his company would then be forced to buy power from other providers, driving customer rates up “20 to 30 percent.”
In fact, last Thursday the 9th, White’s prediction became reality. American Electric Power announced it was closing five coal-powered plants “to comply with a series of pending Environmental Protection Agency regulations.” 6000 megawatts of coal-fired power generation will be retired, and $6 billion to $8 billion in capital investments will be spent to upgrade the facilities. AEP calculates the required changes will increase electrical bills 10 to 35 percent and result in 600 lost jobs.
The EPA’s cost calculations for the four new regulations combined were $16.2 billion, and an average increase of 7.5 percent in electricity costs for all Americans. Yet as AEP has demonstrated, the EPA’s estimates may be off substantially, and given this administration’s track record of manipulating data for its own ends, one would be wise to remain skeptical. AEP CEO Michael Morris certainly is. “We support regulations that achieve long-term environmental benefits while protecting customers, the economy and the reliability of the electric grid, but the cumulative impacts of the EPA’s current regulatory path have been vastly underestimated, particularly in Midwest states dependent on coal to fuel their economies,” he said.
Reinforcing that skepticism is the president himself during the same 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. Despite the reality that coal-generated electricity accounts for half of the electricity produced in the country, Mr. Obama was disdainful regarding the impact of EPA regulations on America’s primary energy providers. “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted,” he said.
Since 2008, nothing, ideologically speaking, has changed. This president and his administration remain committed to aligning the country with a progressive agenda, even as economic data continue pointing to the futility of command-and-control economic policies, coupled with a “save the planet” mentality based on dubious scientific evidence. In Britain, the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) points out that many of the country’s poor will be faced with a choice between “heating and eating” next winter. They’ve already instituted the same cap and trade plans the Obama administration intends to inflict on America — by fiat if necessary. Considering the current trajectory of food and fuel prices, one can only wonder if Americans are ready for another shock to the system similar to the one Great Britain will shortly endure.
Arnold Ahlert is a contributing writer to the conservative website JewishWorldReview.com.
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