Less than a week after we were told the U.S. economy shrank one percent in the first quarter of this year, newly released EPA rules threaten to make matters worse. Despite 17 years of flat global temperatures, the stiffer regulations will require that states reduce CO2 emissions 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.
Sugar coating on that prescription to cure a phony junk science-premised climate malady offers states “flexibility” in meeting those unwarranted standards provided that their plans meet EPA’s approval. But as Bill Becker, Executive Director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies observes, it’s unlikely that eager regulators will be inclined to grant widespread exceptions.
The Obama administration is determined to accomplish through an EPA-spearheaded presidential executive order what it has failed to accomplish through legislation. Only four years ago a comprehensive climate change cap-and trade bill passed by a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives was rejected by a Democrat-controlled Senate. There’s absolutely no way that such a plan could muster either the House or Senate votes necessary for passage today.
Although you have to look hard in the fine print of EPA’s 645-page rule report to find it, that’s where that “flexibility” so generously afforded by EPA appears. Page 39 allows states to use “strategies that are not explicitly mentioned in any of the four building blocks (e.g. market-based trading).”
Page 48 says that states can combine their programs with other states. Multiple references to California’s Greenhouse Gas Solutions Act (AB32) remove any lingering doubt regarding the game plan — namely encouraging states to create or combine together within a multi-state cap-and-trade system in order to meet required individual caps.
Whereas it’s most likely to be referred to by the White House as a “budget program” rather than the more politically charged “cap-and-trade” term, it will mean the same thing.
The central strategy is to set emission limits on companies and entice them to trade allowances or credits as a way to stay under different benchmarks set by EPA. For example, power plant companies could either directly trade emissions credits, or use offsets in the power sector such as renewable energy or energy-efficiency programs to meet targets.
Another strategy is to force states to adopt carbon taxes. Although Congress rejected a proposed national energy tax during Obama’s first term, these costs will amount to just that.
Of course all states will be pressured to install more “renewable energy” windmills and sunbeam collectors. If this isn’t enough, groups such as the National Resources Defense Council and the Brookings Institute advocate a “direct load control” policy which prescribes and manages schedules when electricity users are allowed to run air conditioners and washing machines.
While these strategies will be very costly for Americans everywhere, some regions will be impacted disproportionately. Since prices for electricity are about 30 percent higher in New England and California which already require high uses of renewable fuels, it will redistribute income by placing a toll on others that don’t. Particularly hard hit will be much of the South, the Ohio River Valley, and the mid-Atlantic.
And although coal-producing states such as Wyoming, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Montana will get hurt the worst, they certainly aren’t alone. According to a study sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the shuttering of hundreds of coal-fired power plants nationwide will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Some of those penalties will fall upon Democrats from coal-intensive states that are running for re-election this year. Not coincidentally, some of them were among the 45 senators who sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urging her to double the amount of time allowed for public comments regarding the rulings from two months to four.
Incumbent Mary Landrieu. D-La., and Democrat candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky have vowed to offer a Senate bill to override the rules which they know could only happen if Republicans take control. Obama energy policies also present big election hurdles for Democrat incumbents Representative Nick Randal of West Virginia and Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina.
There should be no doubt that the new rules will be litigated for years. Earlier this month the Supreme Court in Bond v. U.S. held that the federal government can make "a stark intrusion into traditional state authority” only with “a clear statement of the purpose.” Yet the entire sweeping federal power grab is based wholly upon a short and obscure clause of the 1970 Clean Air Act (Section 111-d) predicated upon addressing real pollutants.
The Congress never intended to authorize EPA to regulate CO2, much less to impose unnecessary burdens upon the entire American economy which will fall heaviest upon those least able to afford them. It’s time to finally cap-and-trade members of Congress who don’t realize this.
Larry Bell is a professor and endowed professor at the University of Houston, where he directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and heads the graduate program in space architecture. He is author of “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax,” and his professional aerospace work has been featured on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel-Canada. Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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