Opinion

America’s Consumers Will Pay the Price for EPA’s Carbon Regulations

The evidence continues to mount against the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, a set of costly and overreaching regulations designed to curtail the use of coal-based electricity here at home. New data confirms that EPA’s proposed rule on existing power plants will force higher energy costs on American consumers and businesses while providing no real global environmental benefit.

A recently released study by NERA Economic Consulting reveals that EPA’s proposal is the most costly environmental regulation ever imposed on the electric power sector. Under the plan, compliance costs could range from $366 billion to $479 billion, with annual costs averaging $41 billion or more, and consumers would be forced to spend $560 billion on ways to cut electricity use. NERA’s analysis also projects double-digit electricity rate increases in 43 states as a result of the plan, with 14 states potentially facing peak-year electricity rate increases exceeding 20 percent. Higher electricity costs will affect all aspects of our economic system, from manufacturing costs to the transportation of goods to the operating expenses of businesses. These increased prices on goods and services will be inflicted on American consumers, impacting households’ budgets and creating a ripple effect throughout the entire economy. Business owners will be forced to choose between paying higher energy bills and creating new jobs, finding themselves less and less competitive here at home and in the global marketplace.

EPA is making its best attempt to control how our country’s electricity is produced, and all of us will suffer as a result. Thanks to previous regulations from EPA – most notably the Mercury Air Toxic Standards rule – more than 350 coal-fueled power plants are set to retire or be converted by 2015. EPA’s Clean Power Plan will only exacerbate this already dangerous situation. According to NERA, coal retirements are projected to increase by at least 45,000 megawatts of power – a number greater than the entire power supply of New England. Since EPA’s proposed regulations essentially ban the construction of new coal-fired plants under section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act, the reduced supply of coal-fired electricity will severely impact the reliability of our electric grid. The strain on our electric grid was readily apparent during last year’s Polar Vortex, when coal-fired plants set for retirement were working at full capacity to meet demand other fuels could not provide.

Across the country, state legislators have expressed opposition to EPA’s approach to setting carbon standards for existing coal-fired power plants. To date, 31 legislative bodies, governors and attorneys general have stood up to the EPA’s overreach through legislation, resolutions or letters directly sent to the administration.

Despite the wide-reaching and detrimental impacts this proposal will have on our economy, job market and electric grid, EPA is determined to continue its regulatory crusade against the coal industry. Sadly, it’s American consumers who will be left footing the bill.

 

Laura Sheehan is a senior vice president at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity