OUR VIEW: Don’t inflate our electricity costs

April 4, 2012
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The Environmental Protection Agency is stepping up its war on coal-fired power plants, imposing first-ever limits on carbon emissions for new electric utility facilities. Ostensibly, this administrative over-reach is to fight pollution and reduce global warming.

Those claims are disingenuous, and something society cannot afford.

Carbon dioxide is a trace gas necessary for life. It is not a pollutant. Its emissions have scant, if any, relationship to global temperatures, which have been flat for a dozen years even as CO2 levels dramatically increased.

What the EPA diktat is certain to accomplish, however, is dramatic increases in electricity prices and the devastation of our coal-generated power industry, which provides almost half of U.S. electricity for industry and consumers.

“It is hard to believe that the Obama EPA is announcing a massive energy tax today on American families at a time when they are already reeling from skyrocketing gas prices,” said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who vowed to oppose the rules in Congress.

And it’s not just a tax on families. It’s a tax on all human endeavors and will reduce the ability of businesses to expand, invest in the future and create jobs that Americans need.

The administration’s decision makes it all but impossible to build new coal-fired power plants. New plants would have to be fitted with carbon-capture technology that doesn’t exist. The rules also limit CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions to slightly more than half of what coal plants typically emit now.

Some environmentalists were disappointed the government didn’t apply the regulation to existing plants. But even administration zealots must realize that would have destroyed the energy industry, which would cause grave harm to all businesses and individuals who depend on it. The government says coal generated 42 percent of U.S. kilowatt hours in 2011.

One result of the arbitrary edict, intended or not, is likely to be a boon for natural gas-generated electricity, although it is more likely the administration hopes to spur its preferred alternative energy sources, solar and wind, which give the administration the ability to choose winners and losers in an industry that lives and dies by government subsidies.

The administration’s energy policy is uncomfortably similar to its health care policy, which we hope the Supreme Court will strike down as unconstitutional.

As with the Obamacare mandates and regulations under review by the Supreme Court, the EPA seeks to impose industrywide changes to achieve questionable political ends to the detriment of the public.

Although Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently backed off his 2008 comments that “somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” to force Americans to switch to alternative energy, it’s clear the administration continues to pursue its costly top-down transformation of America. Perhaps Congress can reverse this harmful trend. If not, perhaps voters can in November. This is no time to raise the cost of everything by inflating the cost of electricity. — From the Orange County Register, a Freedom Communications newspaper.

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