06.15.2011 0

New EPA Regulations to Improve the Environment Tank the Economy

By Rebecca Difede – America’s energy sector once again comes under attack from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This time, not only will utility companies feel the backlash of the EPA’s new regulations, energy consumers will as well.

Utility giant American Electric Power (AEP) announced that it was going to have to shut down five plants and spend upwards of $8 billion by 2014 in order to comply with the EPA’s new proposed rules for the limiting of toxic emissions and waste, including mercury.

Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG), reacted to the newly proposed rules, saying, “This is just one more example of the Obama Administration’s war on the U.S. economy and their total disregard for the people who are thrown out of work due to their extremist policies.”

Since the power plants are subject to standards of maintenance as mandated by the EPA, AEP is obligated to conform to these outrageous policies, lest they fail to pass the safety tests (also created and overseen by the EPA), which would cause them to have to shut down entirely. This would cost even more jobs and more money, as well as deprive countless homes of adequate access to power.

The EPA claims its intentions are good and that it only is concerned about the health and safety of the public, but one has to wonder then why it would jeopardize the energy sector with such heavy and abrasive rules that force major electricity suppliers such as AEP to fall to its knees.

The EPA’s attempt to regulate mercury output from the nation’s utilities is not new. In 2000, the EPA issued a rule based upon a scientific and legal determination that it was “appropriate and necessary” to control mercury emissions from power plants. The rule was struck down by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals which required the EPA to develop standards that follow the law and the science in order to protect human health and the environment.

Ironically, the new EPA proposed rule under their definition of an “appropriate and necessary” standard is far more aggressive than the original rule that was struck down by the Courts.

What would be appropriate and necessary would be to set simple regulations that were feasible to comply with while not significantly harming production, and at the same time not giving the EPA the power to crush any plant that it felt wasn’t up to par.

In addition to the EPA’s insidious requests for power plant reform, this plan is going to have even bigger ramifications beyond AEP and other companies like it. Business Week reports that, “EPA proposal also would lead to higher electric rates, including increases of more than 35 percent for some businesses.” Another troubling part of the plan is its deadline for complete compliance, 2014, which is sets unrealistic compliance timelines based upon the large scale transformations the EPA is asking for.

“Increasing the energy costs of America’s job creators is another dagger to the heart of the economy, Obama couldn’t kill jobs any more effectively if he were trying to do so,” ALG’s Wilson commented.

These rules are only just the most recent instance in which the EPA attempted to push its own agenda and expand the powers of the Clean Air Act above and beyond its intended scope under the guise of preventing climate change.

Although the EPA claims to only be trying to help, the bigger picture says otherwise.

There is something lurking behind its agenda of cleaner air, and it certainly doesn’t involve clearing the smog.

Rebecca DiFede is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government.

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