12.10.2013 0

Big Green’s big price tag

EPABy Rick Manning

Washington, D.C. has been consumed with an on-going battle over whether the bureaucracy can significantly expand the scope of legislation without getting legislative approval.  It is the dry, boring stuff that defines why President Reagan once remarked that, “personnel is policy.”

While the attention has been on the increased costs of health care because of Obamacare’s implementation, it should not come as a surprise that over the past five years, Obama’s environmental regulators have been particularly mischievous in writing costly rules to further their agenda.

However, these new Executive Branch majordomos are in for a major comeuppance as the public becomes aware of the cause and effect of their actions on the cost of basic utilities.

One new rule by the Environmental Protection Agency will force the elimination of dozens of coal fired electric generating plants resulting in the loss of more than 3 percent of our nation’s electricity generation, due to a controversial regulation known as Utility MACT.  Designed to shut down older technology coal and oil burning utilities, this EPA action is expected to result in significantly higher utility bills to customers serviced by these plants, while virtually assuring that consumers will suffer from increasing brownouts and blackouts due to the stress put on the system.

Consumers in regions dependent upon coal fired electric utilities will be particularly hard hit with increased utility bills, and environmentalists are hoping they don’t realize the cost increases are solely due to EPA regulations, and instead blame the power company which is forced to deliver the bad news.

In Chicago, Illinois alone, the regulations are expected to cost the City $5.4 million and the Chicago Public Schools $2.7 million in 2014.  By 2017, the Illinois Power Agency estimates that rates could increase by 65 percent in the state.

Other “green” regulations will be teaching the people of Chesapeake Beach, Maryland the hard way that environmental laws come with real costs.

The town of just under 6,000 residents which lies about twenty five miles south of Annapolis on the Chesapeake Bay has heretofore been best known for charter fishing, having slot machines when they were illegal elsewhere, and being one of the few locales in that rural area with a water and sewer system.

Now, those residents are finding that this proximity to the Bay and their sewage treatment plant combine to create a massive headache and an even greater cost for water and sewer to residents.

The irony is that the town’s water system had been viewed as being environmentally sensitive for years, but new environmental regulatory interpretations governing the Bay require an approximate $16 million upgrade to the existing facility.  The resulting increase of water fees will amount to hundreds of dollars of added monthly costs for many residents.  Water users have few options, but Town leaders are hoping that Chesapeake Beach doesn’t become known as the place where flushing is optional.

As consumers become more and more aware that their basic costs for turning a light switch on, or flushing a toilet have been dramatically increased due to environmental regulations promulgated by the Obama Administration, or Governors like Maryland’s Martin O’Malley, the term going green will take on a whole new meaning.

All those voters who have to sacrifice to pay their increased water and electricity bills may finally connect that a green vote is really a vote to take more and more green out of your own wallet.  And when that occurs the green teams political winning streak will end, and regulatory sanity will be restored.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government, and a former town councilman in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland.

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