The federal Environmental Protection Agency issued its final global warming rule for coal-fired power plants recently. If allowed to go into effect, the rule will kill Wisconsin factory jobs and force families to pay more for their electricity.
There are many reasons why the EPA’s rule is bad for Wisconsin and our country, but for the sake of brevity, I have boiled the list down to the top five reasons it will be a self-inflicted wound on our economy and global competitiveness.
1. The rule will be extremely costly. Previous estimates from state utility regulators predicted total costs ranging from $3.4 billion to $13.4 billion for Wisconsin power plants. The final rule actually requires stricter emission targets for Wisconsin, thus driving energy prices higher. These higher costs will be paid by every family and business in Wisconsin that uses electricity.
2. The rule will kill middle-class jobs. Manufacturers cannot compete in domestic or global markets unless they have access to affordable and reliable energy. The EPA rule will raise electricity prices, driving factory jobs overseas to countries such as China. Wisconsin will be hit especially hard because manufacturing is our No. 1 business sector. The unfortunate reality is that thousands of middle-class factory workers will pay the price for these regulations with their jobs.
3. The rule is ineffective. Regardless of what you think about the science of global warming, it’s clear the EPA rule will not have a meaningful impact on global temperature. An analysis of the prior version of the rule, using the EPA’s own data and assumptions, predicted it would reduce the average global temperature by a minuscule 0.016 degrees Fahrenheit. It also would reduce sea levels by 0.01 inches, or about the thickness of three sheets of paper. Despite its oppressive economic cost, the rule will produce negligible climate benefits – it’s all pain and no gain.
4. The rule sets poor energy policy. The United States is blessed with abundant energy, yet the EPA rule sets us on the path to energy scarcity – and the higher costs that accompany it. Our country has the largest coal reserves in the world – more than 250 years of supply – but the EPA rule seeks to cut ourselves off from this abundant, affordable and domestic source of energy. Instead of using coal to our strategic energy advantage against competitors such as China, President Barack Obama and his EPA are making coal economically untenable.
5. The rule is illegal. The EPA goes far beyond the authority granted by Congress to regulate power plants, and instead seeks to regulate activity “outside the fence” of these facilities.
For example, the rule seeks to impose economywide energy efficiency and renewable energy mandates that EPA has no authority to impose. The new rule also contemplates state and regional cap-and-trade emission schemes – an idea specifically rejected by Congress on a bipartisan basis. How could the EPA possibly have authority that Congress deliberately opted against giving it?
Of course we all want to breathe clean air, but we don’t need to destroy our economy with misguided global warming rules to get there. In reality, power plant emissions that cause smog and soot have been reduced by 75 percent and 82 percent respectively since 1980.
Quite simply, the EPA’s new global warming rule is an economic disaster waiting to happen. The unelected Washington D.C. bureaucrats are steering our economy on a collision course with unaffordable energy and lost jobs. Our only hope is for federal courts to steer us back on track by invalidating this costly rule.
Scott Manley is the Vice President of Government Relations Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. Founded in 1911, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) is the state’s chamber of commerce and largest business trade association representing more than 3,800 employers of every size and from every sector of the economy.