6 Things Every American Should Know about the Clean Power Plan
Gina McCarthy
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Six Things Every American Should Really Know About EPA’s Carbon Agenda


The White House is touting its “Clean Power Plan” as “a historic step in the Obama Administration’s fight against climate change.” McCarthy’s post, however, left out critical information, such as how much EPA’s plan would actually affect the climate. The short answer: it doesn’t.

So, to rectify McCarthy’s omissions, here are Six Things Every American Should Really Know About EPA’s Carbon Agenda.

1. The rule has no impact on climate change

McCarthy wrote that “carbon pollution from power plants is our nation’s biggest driver of climate change.” Yet she fails to inform Americans that her plan reduces climate change by 0.02 °C by 2100, according to EPA’s own climate model. For some quick context, the average temperature increase every decade over the past 150 years has been about 0.1 °C. In other words, if average warming trends continue, we’ll see a temperature increase of 0.85 °C by 2100 without this rule and 0.87 °C with the rule. Meanwhile, EPA’s plan is expected to cost at least $366 billion and increase electricity rates by double-digit percentages in 43 states. Why is EPA undertaking a plan that will drive up electricity rates but have essentially no impact on global warming? McCarthy doesn’t say.

Prairie State Generating Mine and Power Plant

2. The rule hurts Americans’ health

McCarthy claims her plan to reduce coal use “protects families’ health” and will “avoid up to 3,600 fewer premature deaths” in 2030. However, she fails to consider the health and welfare impacts caused by expensive regulations. Specifically, when people are poorer, they have less money to spend on healthcare and healthy lifestyles, and, as a result, are more likely to die prematurely. This is well established in health and economics literature. In the past, EPA has recognized the connection between “people’s health and wealth status” and even found that “if the costs are large enough, these increased risks might be greater than the direct risk-reduction benefits of the regulation.” EPA cannot ignore these costs.

Source: Environmental Protection Agency

McCarthy also omits findings from her own agency that show Americans’ health has dramatically improved even as we have used more coal. From 1970 though 2013, American coal consumption increased by more than 76 percent, while total air pollution emissions fell by 67 percent, according to EPA data.

History shows that air quality improvements have happened with increasing coal use, and there is no reason to think that America has lost its ability to innovate, grow, and clean the air without additional federal mandates.

3. The plan relies on threats and bribes

McCarthy claims the regulation “puts states in the driver’s seat.” This is incorrect to the point of dishonesty. As explained here, the rule lures states with promises of “rewards” and “incentives” if they subsidize wind and solar and join regional cap-and-trade schemes. In reality, these inducements are meant to get states to commit to actions they might later regret but will have no power to reverse, even if the courts eventually strike down the rule. As The Wall Street Journal points out: “The White House and EPA know they are distorting the law beyond recognition and that this rule will be litigated for years. But they figure that if they can intimidate the states into enacting as much change as fast as possible, a legal defeat won’t matter because the outcome will be a fait accompli.” Many states, recognizing the trap laid for them, have decided to reject EPA’s rule and not submit plans.

4. The rule was written by the environmental lobby

McCarthy claims the regulation is “built on input from millions of Americans” but omits that the plan was first built by the New York City-based environmental law firm, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). A new report by U.S. Senate investigators reveals NRDC’s “major role in developing” the regulation and “how EPA and NRDC sought to push the outer limits of EPA’s Clean Air Act authority and to develop the analysis on which these highly controversial and legally suspect rules are based.” McCarthy would have been well served to listen to the American people first instead of an activist law firm.

5. You’ll pay dearly for it

McCarthy claims her plan “will save us billions of dollars every year.” This is just plain wrong. This plan will cause existing coal-fired power plants to shutter. The most cost-effective new source of electricity generation is combined cycle natural gas, electricity from which is twice as expensive as electricity from existing coal plants. New wind, meanwhile, is three times as expensive as existing coal and new solar is even more expensive. You can’t save Americans’ money when you make wholesale electricity generation more than twice as expensive. It just doesn’t work.

Source: IER

6. There will be no global Kumbaya

McCarthy claims this regulation “puts the U.S. in a position to lead on climate action.” Indeed, in November, President Obama will go to the UN climate summit in Paris and use his carbon rule to cajole other countries to join him. However, China and India, two of the largest emitters essential to any climate deal, have not committed to any near-term emission reductions. And why would they? These countries are using low-cost coal to pull themselves out of poverty, and they understand that the U.S.’s rapid industrialization was also fueled by affordable, reliable energy like coal. Plus, while Obama hails the regulation as “historic,” it will reduce total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by just 6 percent and, using the EPA’s own model, reduce sea level rise by the equivalent of three sheets of paper! Developing countries will not harm their people by driving up energy prices in the name of minuscule global temperature reductions.

The EPA’s carbon rule has no impact on carbon change but inflicts severe burdens on American families. Fortunately, states have the power to defeat this regulation by refusing to submit plans to the EPA. To learn more about how states are fighting to protect their citizens, visit SmartPowerPlan.org

Thomas Pyle is the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA), a not-for-profit organization that engages in grassroots public policy advocacy and debate concerning energy and environmental policies. You can connect with AEA or Pyle on Twitter.

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