This week, editors of the National Journal asked its panel of energy experts “What energy and environment policies are at stake in the deficit debates now dominating Washington?” Among the eight responses was this perspective from PACE Executive Director Lance Brown, published on November 2nd.
In order to get America back on the right track, the super committee needs to take a comprehensive approach at not only government spending and tax reform, but also at federal policies that directly and indirectly impact the American economy. These government policies and regulations have the ability to stunt job growth, force families to stretch their already tight budgets even further, and add to the country’s seemingly ever-escalating deficit. This is especially true when it comes to energy. It is imperative that Congress put a stop to regulations that restrain our nation’s economic potential, particularly those imposed by the EPA.
There is no clearer illustration of the negative economic potential of the EPA’s regulations than the Utility MACT rule, set to be implemented in December. On the most basic level, we know that Utility MACT will be the most expensive regulation in history to implement. This fact alone should suggest to sensible policy makers that the rule’s scope and implementation period should be altered to reduce financial impact. But the sheer cost of the program to the direct targets of the rule – electric utilities – isn’t the only problem. Instituting Utility MACT would increase electricity costs while decreasing reliability for consumers, create a loss of jobs and a decline in job creation in the energy sector, and ultimately lead to further economic turmoil.
The EPA has openly admitted that it does not take job creation into account when drafting new regulations. This blatant disregard for the state of the economy and the welfare of the American people is yet another example of how unplugged the EPA has become from the economic reality of American families.
In a hearing earlier this week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee examined the economic impact that the Utility MACT rule would have on consumers, businesses, taxpayers and the larger economy. Others are asking similar questions in formal and informal venues across the United States. So much debate and hesitation surrounding the regulation indicates that our policy makers recognize there is something fundamentally defective with the Utility MACT rule. There is no reason not to delay this job-killing rule until we have more information about what its harmful effects might be.
Congress has stated time and again that promoting job creation is one of its top priorities. We can only hope the super committee realizes that actions are louder than words.