Economy, Regs, & Taxes

Obama's Clean Power Plan Is Costly Political Theater

The plan has nothing to do with climate and everything to do with social justice.

Paul Albaugh · Aug. 4, 2015

On Monday, Barack Obama announced new rules for his long-dreaded Clean Power Plan. This past spring, we warned that Obama’s agenda to combat global warming would be finalized during the hottest days of summer. As with almost every other agenda under Obama, it’s even worse than expected — and all to prevent warming of 0.01 degrees Celsius.

Winston Churchill once said, “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy. Its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” And make no mistake: Obama’s plan has little or nothing to do with climate and everything to do with his social justice worldview, in which he wants to handicap the U.S. ostensibly to the benefit of the rest of the world.

Obama was originally set to unveil his new rules outside of the White House. However, due to the sweltering heat, he chose to move the announcement inside. Naturally, Leftmedia talkingheads couldn’t pass on the opportunity to blubber that “Mother Nature … was making his point for him.” But newsflash: It’s always hot in August. Clearly, the central planners were aiming for a bit of theatrics.

As for the details, according to The Wall Street Journal, the new rule “would require a 32% cut in power-plant carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels, an increase from the 30% target proposed last year.” According to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the estimated annual cost by 2030 will be $8.4 billion. But keep in mind that government estimates are always low.

The new regulations will require states to create a plan to reduce power-plant emissions in order to reach the nationwide carbon reduction target. The state compliance plans are supposed to be completed by 2018, and states should reach their first targets for reduction by 2022. If a state doesn’t comply, then it will be forced by the EPA to adopt a federal plan.

The Journal further notes, “The final rule calls for the nation to get 28% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2030, versus roughly 13% last year. Industry experts say cutting carbon emissions 32% by 2030 will require billions of dollars in investments for new transmission lines that accommodate more solar and wind power and new pipelines to feed natural-gas-fired power plants, as coal becomes less important as a fuel.”

However, new pipelines for natural gas won’t be necessary. Obama has called natural gas a “bridge fuel” and has hailed its use as a way for the nation to move away from coal in the quest toward renewable energy. But the final version of Obama’s plan does not increase the use of natural gas; it maintains current levels. So he’s slamming the door shut on coal, and, while he’s at it, stopping the expansion of the use of natural gas. Obama’s leaving no room for more jobs to be created in the private sector.

But hey, since there will be new regulations to enforce, the EPA will need more manpower. Indeed, Obama’s EPA announced that it will hire an additional 800 new regulators. Obviously, 15,000 EPA workers aren’t enough to enforce the proposed regulations. It just shows how much Obama cares about creating jobs, right? Washington jobs, that is, which by the way will assist in putting private sector companies out of business for not complying with EPA demands. This is not quite what we would call the American Dream.

Neither is the cost of complying with the EPA’s proposal. Obama once admitted that, under his plan, energy prices would necessarily skyrocket. A study by the Energy Information Administration confirms that’s exactly what’s happening. If Obama’s plan is implemented, electricity prices will rise on average 4%, though some higher estimates predict increases of 12%-17%. Regardless, Americans will pay more, which doesn’t bode well for those struggling to make ends meet.

Yet the issue of climate change is more important to Obama than those struggling today. He wants it to be part of his legacy of fundamentally transforming America. Ahead of the climate change summit in Paris later this year, he wants to be seen as leading the way on combating emissions. He wants to be seen as the leader who saved the planet from capitalism. In addition, as with all issues, he wants environmental stewardship to be a divisive political game.

Why is it that liberal elites in the Democratic Party are portrayed as the authorities on all things environment? Why is it that conservatives and members of the Republican Party are portrayed as anti-science deniers, as haters of the environment, as if we delight in destroying the planet?

The short answer is that it gives an additional platform for Democrats. It provides an agenda for more control over how we live our lives. It becomes a wedge issue to drive votes in elections. And it pits state sovereignty against federal authority.

Fortunately, at least for now, many state governments have resisted the EPA power plan and Obama’s climate change agenda. Many state governments have insisted they will not comply, as it will ruin their economies. The issue will likely make it to the courts, and we hope the Supreme Court will rebuke the EPA once again, as it did in Michigan v. EPA. Liberty depends on reigning in the EPA, not emissions.

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