Wicker: Obama is prioritizing CO2 rules over jobs and economy

Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 5, 2015

Legal action has swiftly followed the President’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” which was recently published in the Federal Register. Major trade associations and more than two-dozen states have already turned to the courts to stop the Administration’s extreme rules on carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants. These legal challenges are not new to the President’s radical environmental policies. Just a few weeks ago, the courts struck down the Administration’s rule to expand federal control over ponds, ditches, and streams.
Americans deserve government action that provides tangible benefits. The President’s rules on power plants put jobs and economic growth at risk without delivering significant environmental results. At best, its sweeping reductions on carbon-dioxide emissions would affect the climate by only a miniscule fraction of a degree Celsius over the next century. Like the President’s burdensome ozone regulations, these policies have nothing to do with making the air cleaner.
Lawmakers in Congress are working on a bipartisan basis to oppose this costly executive overreach. Under the “Congressional Review Act,” Congress has the authority to nullify an executive rule if a resolution of disapproval is enacted and signed by the President within 60 days. I am a cosponsor of two such resolutions – one that would remove the Administration’s harmful regulations on new coal-fired power plants and another to rescind the rules on existing power plants. Each has bipartisan support, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introducing the first measure and Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) sponsoring the latter. McConnell is expected to schedule votes on the resolutions soon.
Entire Mississippi Delegation Voices Opposition
It is clear that Mississippi would be negatively impacted by the President’s anti-coal plan, which sets state limits on carbon-dioxide emissions to achieve national reductions. Earlier this year, our state’s entire congressional delegation sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States Department of Agriculture, and the White House Office of Management and Budget outlining our concerns that Mississippi was being treated unfairly. We noted that the proposed regulations would impose some of the country’s harshest carbon-dioxide restrictions on Mississippi. These restrictions would force Mississippi to incur exceptionally high costs to reduce emissions, even though local utilities have already taken substantial steps to make strategic, emissions-cutting investments. Although the restrictions on Mississippi are less stringent in the Administration’s final plan, the threat of high costs and job losses still remains.
Rising Electricity Rates Would Hurt Consumers, Businesses
During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama said that “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” under his cap-and-trade plan. This end-run around Congress through new EPA rules would help the President deliver on this unwise campaign promise. Coal-fired plants would be forced to shut down, and new energy infrastructure would have to be built – an extraordinary burden for states, power associations, and consumers.
Following EPA’s initial announcement of its new power plant regulations, the Mississippi Public Service Commission estimated that electricity rates would increase by 35 percent for residents and 69 percent for industry between 2012 and 2020. Mississippians already spend a significant portion of their take-home pay on their energy bills. Instead of fighting a war on coal with negligible environmental benefits, the Administration should be fighting to create jobs and economic growth that can make a real difference in Americans’ lives.
It is no wonder that extensive legal battles are already challenging the President’s “Clean Power Plan.” A big-government approach that fails to follow the law should not hamper reliable, affordable energy. I will continue to push for legislative action that protects Mississippians from the Obama Administration’s power grabs, including this overreach to push an extreme environmental agenda.

By Senator Roger Wicker

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