Last month in a speech on climate change, President Obama announced his plans to increase regulations and impose a costly national tax on affordable energy sources. He intends to enact this proposal through executive action, avoiding Congress and the citizens they represent. Specifically, the president will authorize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue new carbon emission standards for existing power plants.
While the president touted his plan as an effort to “do more” to combat climate change, it will actually do more to raise energy costs than reduce greenhouse emissions.
These burdensome new requirements will increase fuel and electricity prices and kill jobs. Hardworking Americans who will foot the bill when their energy and electricity bills go up deserve to know exactly how much this new climate change policy will cost.
It is important to examine the science of climate change. I also believe before a problem can be solved, we must understand the nature of the problem. While some blame emissions of carbon dioxide for all kinds of harm — including extreme weather — there are various views even within the scientific community.
Earth scientist and chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Dr. Allison Macfarlane —appointed by Obama — was asked earlier this year what the NRC is doing to prepare for “extreme weather.” She said, “I would not call these events extreme. I would call them normal.”
The president’s plan disregards the fact that the United States is not the primary emitter of greenhouse gases. The biggest sources are China and India, two of our top economic competitors. The U.S. share of greenhouse emissions has been declining for nearly a decade. Meanwhile, China’s emissions have skyrocketed, increasing by 173 percent from 1998 to 2011.
This reality raises the question of whether the environmental benefits of the president’s plan are even discernible and importantly, whether they will be worth harming our economy when so many Americans and middle class families are living paycheck to paycheck.
Obama’s order to the EPA to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants would most adversely affect coal-fired plants. America has more than 1,000 coal-fired generators at nearly 600 plant locations that generate 40 percent of our affordable, reliable energy.
In Nebraska, nearly two-thirds of our state’s electricity is produced from coal-fired plants. Under the president’s plan, Nebraska’s primary source of electricity would be disproportionately penalized, resulting in increased compliance costs on utilities and rising energy prices for Nebraska families and businesses.
Members of Congress have an important responsibility to exercise oversight of federal policy decisions affecting their constituents. That is why I am so troubled by the president’s call for unilateral, executive action authorizing EPA to implement new carbon emission standards.
I co-sponsored legislation to require the president to submit his new energy tax proposal for a vote in Congress. Americans have a right to have their voices heard, and that means having their elected representatives weigh in.
Instead of promoting a regulatory regime that will raise energy prices, kill jobs and hurt our economy, the president should be putting forth energy proposals that face reality. It’s time to move toward the “all of the above” energy strategy the American people were promised and pursue opportunities at home to enhance our energy supply and lower prices.
Deb Fischer represents Nebraska in the U.S. Senate.