With new air pollution rules looming, the National Journal recently posed the question to its panel of energy experts: ‘Should EPA Delay Its Air-Pollution Rules?’ Below is PACE’s response to this important and timely question.
In deciding whether to delay its air pollution rules, the EPA need look no further than the current state of the economy. Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor released its monthly jobs report which found that unemployment crept back up to 9.1 percent in May, and the economy added the fewest jobs since September 2010. It would be reckless for the Administration to propose or implement any energy standards that stand to further weaken the economy by sending more hard-working Americans to the unemployment line. In January, President Obama issued an executive order asking federal agencies to identify burdensome rules that should be drastically changed or eliminated altogether. Unfortunately, the EPA seems to have ignored President Obama’s directive and has instead moved to over regulate the energy industry without allowing for sufficient public comment or research. Even more troubling is the fact the EPA recently admitted they do not take jobs into account when implementing new regulations. Perhaps that is why twelve members of the House of Representatives from across the nation, including Rep. Spencer Bachus from my home state of Alabama, have joined together to sponsor H.R. 1872, the Employment Protection Act of 2011, which would require the EPA to consider jobs and the economy when proposing costly new rules.
On May 26, I testified at an EPA public hearing in Atlanta to express my concerns with new national emissions standards, specifically Utility MACT regulations. In my testimony, I urged the EPA to recognize recent emissions improvements and carefully evaluate the implications when considering rules that could restrain domestic energy, endanger jobs, and saddle American families with higher electricity bills. For the millions of struggling low-income families, discussions about higher energy costs are not political rhetoric; they are tough reality.
But Clean Air Transport Rules should also be a major concern among energy consumers. This rule will require significant reductions in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions that cross state lines. Seems pretty straightforward right? Wrong. The Clean Air Transport Rule is simply unnecessary to protect “downwind” air quality. In fact, emissions are continuing to decline in the East due to previously implemented EPA rules. Essentially, the EPA is doubling, even tripling, down on rules that are already on the books, making it more difficult for energy providers to comply with rules that will eventually lead to them having to close their plants altogether; eliminating thousands of jobs and further chipping away at America’s ability to produce affordable and reliable power.
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity today released a study finding the EPA’s air pollution rules will cost utilities $17.8 billion annually and raise electricity rates 11.5 percent on average in 2016. But that’s not the most shocking news. The study also finds the rules would result in 1.44 million jobs lost by 2020! These are staggering statistics.
I urge the EPA to halt any upcoming regulations, or at the very least take the time to ascertain the real implications of these far reaching costly rules before it’s too late.