This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may have heard America’s plea for an extended comment period for its proposed carbon regulations, but the agency remains completely out of touch. An additional 45 days is still not nearly enough time for states and American consumers to fully comprehend the 700+ pages of these complex and lengthy regulations. And regardless of the comment period extension, the fact remains that not only are these regulations a threat to American jobs and the economy – they are legally flawed and will fundamentally change the way electricity is generated and distributed.
This month, the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing to examine the challenges that states face in complying with the proposed carbon regulations and highlighted many issues associated with the proposal, including threats to their economies and electric reliability. The public utility commissioners who testified had very similar reactions to the proposal, all agreeing that it was a dramatic undertaking that does not acknowledge the complications that accompany the process of applying EPA’s inflexible emissions “goals” to the unique energy makeup of each state.
Beyond the multitude of costly consequences—threatening electric reliability, promoting overreliance on natural gas, increasing electricity prices for consumers and businesses, causing job losses and imposing mandates to use less electricity—the proposal’s fatal flaw is that EPA lacks the legal authority to do what it has proposed. EPA’s rule extends far beyond its limited legal authority and overrides each state’s prerogative to determine its own electricity prices. On top of that, the proposed standards are based on flawed information and assumptions that will result in devastating economic impacts for all sectors of our economy. All while having no meaningful effect on global climate change.
Our nation should certainly be working to build a diverse energy portfolio, but the approach of the Obama Administration is undermining gradual fuel diversification in the name of radical ideology. Several utilities have already predicted that we could experience another polar vortex this winter, and the only way to avoid the potential accompanying power outages is to continue using our most reliable energy source – coal. Taking coal out of America’s energy mix is an equation that doesn’t make any sense: it raises costs, eliminates jobs and offers potential electricity loss for thousands nationwide.
I’m not sure what will ultimately convince EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that these regulations need to be abandoned, no matter the length of the comment period.