This column originally appeared in The Morning Consult on April 1, 2015.
Criticism around the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan has grown over the last month. Much of it has focused on the fact that EPA’s plan stretches far beyond the limits of sound legal and economic policy.
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity president and CEO Mike Duncan described in a March 11 op-ed in the Washington Examiner how EPA’s proposed rule completely disregards the principles of federalism that define our Constitution. In what many agree is federal overreach, President Obama has granted EPA the authority to implement standards each state must meet to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. While EPA claims that it is within its legal bounds under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act to do so, a number of experts have been quick to disprove this argument.
Speaking at a House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing last month, Lawrence H. Tribe, a professor at Harvard Law School and former mentor to President Obama, stated, “The obscure section of the Clean Air Act that EPA invokes to support its breathtaking exercise of power in fact authorizes only regulating individual plants and, far from giving EPA the green light it claims, actually forbids what it seeks to do.”
Professor Tribe—who taught the nation’s first environmental law class—went on to compare the Obama Administration’s proposed carbon regulations to “burning the Constitution.” Allison Wood, another hearing witness and environmental attorney with Hunton and Williams, LLP, sealed the argument by stating that EPA’s proposal “suffers from numerous legal deficiencies, including whether EPA even has the authority to issue it.”
In fact, since the rule was proposed in June 2014, officials in 29 states ranging from attorneys general to governors and state legislators have concluded that EPA does not have the legal authority to regulate carbon emissions from coal-fired power units.
Fanning the flames, EPA’s proposed rule also poses grave economic consequences that could harm our nation’s economy. Monthly utility costs under the rule would skyrocket, leaving our poorest and most vulnerable communities facing exorbitant electricity rates. According to an analysis conducted last October, the compliance cost of EPA’s proposal could total more than $366 billion and cause double-digit utility rate increases for consumers in 43 states.
It’s hard to buy what EPA is selling when it comes to the agency’s Clean Power Plan. The rule is on perilous legal ground and if implemented will raise the price tag on consumers and plunge our economy back into a recession.
Americans must continue demanding the facts and force this administration to stop its “act now, think later” mentality. Only then will our nation stand a chance of implementing a true all-of-the-above energy policy that will provide Americans the affordable, reliable energy needed for success and future economic growth.