The agency has failed to properly weigh the costs, even though the Supreme Court says it must.
On Monday President Obama is announcing the final version of his Clean Power Plan, the carbon-emission rules for power plants to secure his climate-change legacy. The plan is designed to hobble electricity generators much as the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 rule to reduce mercury and other emissions has harmed the coal industry.
Fortunately for consumers, on June 29 the Supreme Court slapped down the agency’s 2012 rule. In Michigan v. EPA, the court said the agency failed its legal obligation to compare the cost of its mercury standards with the benefits.
Reckless disregard for costs has also guided the agency’s Clean Power Plan. The White House promises Monday’s rule will offer more flexibility to meet emissions targets than an earlier draft, but the targets may be even more difficult to meet. That will force rate payers into steeper cost increases, and concessions the EPA makes to some states and industries will come at the expense of others.
If the EPA succeeds, Americans will be paying for decades. NERA Economic Consulting estimates that the Clean Power Plan will cost $366 billion and bring double-digit electricity-rate increases to 43 states.
Regulators including the North American Electric Reliability Corporation warn that the plan could weaken the reliability of the national electric grid by forcing many power plants to close well before new ones can be built. Yet even the administration admits that the EPA plan will have only a trivial impact on the climate.
The Clean Power Plan gives each state an emissions budget and an ultimatum: Give us a plan to cut your carbon emissions using our assumptions about energy-efficiency improvements, green-energy construction, etc.—or we will impose a federal plan on your state. Never mind that most states have objected to the EPA plan.
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