PACE in National Journal: EPA Should Be Held Accountable

PACE Tours Bellefonte Nuclear Plant
November 2, 2011
FERC Conference Raises Reliability Issues From EPA Rules
December 2, 2011

This week, the National Journal asked its panel of energy experts “What’s the Sum Effect of EPA Rules?” Moreover, “should EPA be significantly changed and scaled back in its organizational and regulatory authority, such as some GOP presidential candidates like Texas Gov. Rick Perry have suggested?” The National Journal published the following response from PACE Executive Director Lance Brown.

If there is one thing that everyone in our country can agree on right now, it’s the American economy is in bad shape. And as of yet, we’re not seeing many promising signs of improvement. It doesn’t make sense, then, that some in the government are trying to pass measures that will only contribute to all of our mounting problems. The EPA is doing just that.

Proposed regulations such as Utility MACT and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would burden the already delicate economy by driving up costs for consumers, diminishing reliable energy sources, and eliminating both current and potential jobs. In fact, Utility MACT alone is estimated to result in a cumulative loss of 1.65 million jobs and cost the electricity industry over $127 billion by 2020. At a time when the unemployment rate is over 9% and national debt tops $14 trillion, imposing these types of rules is both careless and counterproductive. The EPA needs to act responsibly and put the needs of the economy before its own stubborn agenda; as a government agency, it should be helping – not adding to – the country’s problems.

The U.S. Senate had an opportunity this week to overturn CSAPR, but unfortunately the effort fell victim to the partisan banter that is currently the status quo on Capitol Hill. One of the biggest challenges of CSAPR and similar EPA rules is the time frame companies are given to implement the regulations and make required changes. Many of the agency’s proposals would be feasible for the energy industry if they were given more time to adopt the rules. Because the option is now to either change or shut down, most companies are forced to do the latter even though they would be willing to abide by the new rules if they had a reasonable amount of time to do so. The EPA has to realize that the effects of its inflexible regulations not only hurt companies and their employees, but also every business and individual who uses electrical power.

Evan Bayh, former U.S. Senator from Indiana, recently wrote an opinion piece for The Indianapolis Star addressing the harmful repercussions that Utility MACT will have on his state’s economy if it is implemented. He writes, “We need to avoid the regulatory uncertainty that has slowed investment and job creation over the last three years. Measures that threaten the balance of supply and demand, and the cost, of our electricity do just that. The administration should take these significant concerns into consideration before going forward with the rule by the end of the year. EPA should ensure that, at minimum, the rule is revised to provide adequate time for cost-effective compliance in ways that do not threaten the reliability of electricity.”

The EPA should be held accountable for its actions. If the EPA really wants to put its rules into effect without doing unwarranted damage to the economy, it needs to be open to productive debate and making compromises. Otherwise the agency will, literally and figuratively, be turning off the lights for the economy and the millions of Americans who rely on affordable electricity.

Read more responses to the question here.