Tuesday, December 21, 2010


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is rolling out a regulatory agenda that will stunt economic recovery and devastate our manufacturing sector.

In January, EPA is going to begin regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s largest power plants and industrial facilities. EPA says that its action is necessary to prevent climate change. But EPA is doing this without regard for its effect on the economy and without approval from Congress, since the Clean Air Act says nothing about curtailing green house gas emissions.

EPA has picked the worst possible time to impose new restrictions on a key part of the nation’s economy. We are struggling to recover from the deepest recession since the 1930’s, but EPA’s plan will make matters more difficult by jacking up electricity prices. The result will be an unwanted and dangerous burden on businesses and consumers when our national priority should be to reduce joblessness and raise state and local revenue.

Under EPA’s regulations, utilities and manufacturers must adopt the best available control technology. But it’s not clear to anyone what that is. It could mean raising energy efficiency at a manufacturing facility or requiring a coal plant to switch to natural gas in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In other cases utilities might be ordered to shut down a well-performing power plant that uses fossil fuels, to be replaced with power from less efficient renewable energy.

These mandated upgrades, closures and replacements are going to be wildly expensive and the cost is going to be passed directly to consumers and businesses through higher electricity bills – tens of billions of dollars in higher bills.

Furthermore, the economic burden brought on by EPA’s regulations will not be shared equally across the country. The states that get the largest portion of their electricity from fossil fuels will be forced to shoulder the heaviest load. Of course, those states that depend most on fossil fuels for electricity generation also happen to home to the core of America’s manufacturing sector.

EPA’s regulations could do the greatest harm here in the Virginia’s and in the Midwest states like Indiana, Ohio and Michigan that have large manufacturing facilities that depend on the availability of cheap coal. When the regulations take effect, electricity prices will soar, increasing the cost of products. Companies will be less competitive in the international marketplace and inevitably, some factories might be forced to close. How many Americans have to be added to the unemployment lines before Washington bureaucrats realize their mistake?

What is more, EPA’s plan to reduce emissions is fatally flawed because the agency is pursuing an agenda for carbon mitigation that was hatched without cooperation from other countries. Even those who adhere to global warming science recognize that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases can only be reduced through international cooperation – particularly cooperation from the world’s largest carbon emitters, China and India.

Unless there are comparable reductions in greenhouse emissions in China and India and other developing countries, the United States could wind up cutting its emissions at great economic cost. But the practical effect on global greenhouse levels would be nil.

Simply put, EPA’s plan is a job killer. Not only will it hurt our economy and render U.S. manufacturing less competitive but its environmental value is questionable. Congress needs to stop EPA from taking our country down this path. What America needs are more jobs, not new environmental restrictions that will smother economic recovery.