Obama swings EPA club in latest assault on jobs, affordable energy

The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board writes this morning:

(Excerpted)…The EPA is currently pushing an unprecedented rewrite of air-pollution rules in an attempt to shut down a large portion of the coal-fired power fleet. Though these regulations are among the most expensive in the agency’s history, none were demanded by the late Pelosi Congress. They’re all the result of purely bureaucratic discretion under the Clean Air Act, last revised in 1990.

As it happens, those 1990 amendments contain an overlooked proviso that would let Mr. Obama overrule EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s agenda. With an executive order, he could exempt all power plants “from compliance with any standard or limitation” for two years, or even longer using rolling two-year periods. All he has to declare is “that the technology to implement such standard is not available and that it is in the national security interests of the United States to do so.”

Both criteria are easily met. Most important, the EPA’s regulatory cascade is a clear and present danger to the reliability and stability of the U.S. power system and grid. The spree affects plants that provide 40% of U.S. baseload capacity in the U.S., and almost half of U.S. net generation. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, which is charged with ensuring the integrity of the power supply, reported this month in a letter to the Senate that 81 gigawatts of generating capacity is “very likely” or “likely” to be subtracted by 2018 amid coal plant retirements and downgrades.

That’s about 8% of all U.S. generating capacity. Merely losing 56 gigawatts—a midrange scenario in line with FERC and industry estimates—is the equivalent of wiping out all power generation for Florida and Mississippi.

In practice, this will mean blackouts and rolling brownouts, as well as spiking rates for consumers. If a foreign power or terrorists wiped out 8% of U.S. capacity, such as through a cyber attack, it would rightly be considered an act of war. The EPA is in effect undermining the national security concept of “critical infrastructure”—assets essential to the functioning of society and the economy that Mr. Obama has an obligation to protect.

He would also be well within the law to declare that the EPA’s rules are technologically infeasible. Later this year, for example, the EPA will release regulations requiring utilities to further limit mercury and other hazardous pollutants. Full compliance will be required by 2015, merely 36 months after the final rule is public, and plants that can’t be upgraded in time will be required to shut down.

“Obama will not issue such an order because his stated goal is to ‘bankrupt’ the coal industry.  His avowed purpose, through this regulatory gut-punch and his “cap and tax” National Energy Tax scheme, is to eliminate affordable energy,” said American Tradition Partnership Executive Director Donald Ferguson.

“Radical environmentalists have repeatedly shouted their assertion the United States are too prosperous and too powerful, and eliminating our access to jobs and affordable energy is an act of social and environmental ‘justice.’  After decades of palling around with radical green leftists like Van Jones, Obama is pushing this EPA rule a the enforcement mechanism for his radical liberal agenda,” said Ferguson.

“Obama’s latest EPA assault is so radical and economically devastating even Nancy Pelosi didn’t want her name on it.  They’ve farmed this economic out to their nameless political assassins in the EPA bureaucracy.  This is precisely why we must have a recorded vote on the REINS Act.  The REINS Act requires any proposed federal regulation with an economic impact greater than $100 million to be openly voted upon by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President.  Predictably, environmentalists are violently opposed this simple reform to restore clean, transparent rule-making,” said Ferguson.

Go here to chip in $10 to support American Tradition Partnership’s growing grassroots army, as we press for a recorded vote on the REINS Act to stop these regulatory assaults on prosperity and freedom.

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