Saturday, July 9, 2011

Obama plan: 'Spike' energy costs, kill 1.4 million jobs


Industry group blasts White House decision to raise electricity bills now
By Drew Zahn

© 2011 WND

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Even before he was elected president, Barack Obama warned he would "bankrupt" the coal industry if necessary and purposefully spike Americans' utility bills in order to force the nation into using less and cleaner forms of energy.

Read more: Obama plan: 'Spike' energy costs, kill 1.4 million jobs

Now, industry partners warn, the White House is making good on that promise by issuing a new rule that will raise some Midwesterners' electricity bills over 23 percent by 2016 and cost an estimated 1.44 million jobs by 2020.

Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized its new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which requires coal companies to dramatically cut sulfur dioxide and nitrogen emissions – which the EPA says travel across state lines and contribute to ozone pollution – by 2014.

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The EPA claims the new rule will prevent 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 heart attacks and 400,000 cases of asthma starting in 2014, which would amount to $280 billion a year in health benefits.

But according to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the White House plans, in combination with other new EPA rules, would be "among the most expensive ever imposed by the agency" and deal a devastating blow to both family budgets and the job market.

"The EPA is ignoring the cumulative economic damage new regulations will cause," said Steve Miller, president and CEO of ACCCE, in a statement. "Our industry needs adequate time to install clean coal technologies to comply with new regulations. Unfortunately, EPA doesn't seem to care."

He continued, "We urge EPA to take a realistic look at the enormous impact of all the regulations they are considering and how those regulations affect families and businesses. In a time of high unemployment, we should be pursuing sensible policies that create jobs, not eliminate jobs."

Miller's assertions are based on a study conducted for the ACCCE by National Economic Research Associates.

The study details a dramatic leap in the number of coal plants that would need to be retired almost immediately to meet the EPA regulations, a consequent surge in natural gas prices to meet electricity demand, a loss of jobs at four times the pace of new energy job creation and a region-by-region projection of electricity costs through the year 2025.

The projections show the national average retail electricity price jumping 11.5 percent by 2016, with some states, like Kentucky and Tennessee, suffering a 23.5-percent spike.

The chart below details the projected increase:

The EPA contends the rules are needed for health purposes.

"No community should have to bear the burden of another community's polluters or be powerless to prevent air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said earlier this week. "These Clean Air Act safeguards will help protect the health of millions of Americans and save lives by preventing smog and soot pollution from traveling hundreds of miles and contaminating the air they breathe."

But Republicans in Congress are among those blasting what they claim are overly burdensome government regulations.

"This Administration proves time and time again that they [sic] just don't understand how its actions crush jobs across the country," Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said in a statement. "Today's economically devastating rule is just the latest strike in the Administration's ongoing war against traditional sources of American energy."

All according to plan?

As WND reported, then-Sen. Barack Obama said in the Democratic primaries that the government should intentionally drive energy bills up through "price signals" in order to force Americans into more environmentally friendly choices.

In a Nov. 9, 2007, interview on Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press," Obama said, "I think it is important for us to send some price signals to change behavior. You know, if electricity goes up, people start becoming more mindful of their electricity bill."

Perhaps predictive of the EPA's most recent ruling, Obama then clarified how the government could implement the kind price signals that change consumer habits:

"We're going to have to cap the emission of greenhouse gases," Obama said. "That means that power plants are going to have to adjust how they generate power. They will pass on those costs to consumers. … A lot of us who can afford it are going to have to pay more per unit of electricity, and that means we're going to have to change our light bulbs, we're going to have to shut the lights off in our houses."

In a speech two months later, Obama further detailed a long-term, cap-and-trade energy plan that would target coal plants in America.

"Whatever power plants are being built, they would have to meet the rigors of that [carbon-exchange] market and the ratcheted-down caps that are imposed every year," he explained. "So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them, because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted."

Read more: Obama plan: 'Spike' energy costs, kill 1.4 million jobs

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