States Pan the President’s Clean Power Plan

Posted March 12, 2015

A review of comments submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding President Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan shows that a majority of states raised serious concerns regarding the legality of the act, the high cost of compliance and potential reliability problems.

The review was published recently by the Institute for 21st Century Energy, a division of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. It points out that 28 state governors or attorneys general have raised major concerns with the rule’s legal foundations.

Even though the final rule isn’t scheduled to be released until mid-summer 2015, 13 states are already suing the EPA regarding its authority to establish carbon dioxide regulations under the Clean Air Act.

The Clean Power Plan follows on the heels of President Obama’s declaration in June 2013 to begin regulating greenhouse gases – an idea that failed in the Democratic-led Senate in 2010. Without legislation, the President took a “go-it-alone” approach to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the United States by 30 percent by 2030.

The rules are especially onerous on coal-based power plants, which currently supply about 40 percent of the nation’s electricity – more than any other single source of generation. Coal has been a fuel of choice for utilities across the nation because of the nation’s ample reserves and the low cost of the fuel. Also coal-based generation supplies baseload power as opposed to intermittent electricity sources such as wind turbines and solar panels.

Since the U.S. economy – especially manufacturing and food processing plants – rely on affordable and reliable secure energy supplies, the Clean Power Plan has the potential to hurt the economic viability of major U.S. industries.

Because carbon dioxide emissions are a global phenomenon and many of the world’s largest producers are reticent to cut their emissions and, in fact, are increasing the use of fossil fuels to feed and clothe their citizens, the Clean Power Plan has been described as an “all pain, no gain” regulation.

The response to the request for comments on the Clean Power Plan showed that a majority of states raised concerns or objections on not one or two, but a number of different issues. For instance, 32 states made legal objections, and 28 were concerned with compliance costs hurting electric customers or economic competitiveness. More than 30 states warned of reliability problems as baseload generation is replaced with more intermittent sources.

The Coalition for a Secure Energy Future recently posted its own concerns regarding the Clean Power Plan. You are encouraged to learn more.