Last month, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce joined 102 other business and industrial trade associations around the nation in the Partnership for Better Energy Future. The Partnership was created in response to extremely severe regulations that US EPA will issue in the next few months regarding greenhouse gases (GHG) for existing and future power plants. If these regulations go through, US EPA will continue to hand down unachievable regulations to other industries.
US EPA issued the proposed regulation for new and existing power plants in September 2013 in response to an executive memorandum from President Barack Obama and took the most restrictive, expensive regulatory path forward. The proposed regulation for new power plants bans the construction of new coal-fired power plants unless they are equipped with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. While promising, the CCS is prohibitively expensive and not in use by a single commercial-scale power plant in the country; it is essentially untried. Even though the Clean Air Act prohibits US EPA from mandating technologies that have not been adequately demonstrated, the agency is aggressively attempting to require the use of it. Given this restriction, the practical impact of US EPA’s proposed regulation for new power plants will block construction of coal-fired power plants across the country.
The existing power plant regulation will impact those that are already supplying electricity to homes and businesses throughout the country. The United States relies on fossil fuels for about 68% of the electricity that keeps the lights on and powers the economy. Our country cannot operate without electricity from fossil fuels, yet this regulation threatens to shut down many plants that produce this low-cost, reliable electricity.
Losing existing plants will have two disruptive consequences. First, electricity costs will increase for nearly everyone. Household energy bills will go up, as will the costs for most goods and services. Second, the steady stream of electricity that we depend on will be threatened. Businesses, hospitals, schools, and households that rely on a constant supply of electricity will face the realities of increasing blackouts because there won’t be enough sources of electricity to meet demands. These negative effects on electricity affordability and reliability will inevitably extend to the overall economy, costing us jobs, and harming America’s competitive position in key global markets.
The decisions US EPA makes in the coming months about this regulation will determine the future of electricity use and costs in the United States, including Ohio. If US EPA takes a similarly restrictive path for existing power plants as it has for the new power plants regulation, the consequences will be disastrous for consumers and nearly every sector of the industrial economy, from refining to manufacturing, to agriculture and mining. The Partnership seeks to present a unified strategy and message in response to US EPA’s and The Administration’s GHG regulatory agenda. The Partnership’s fundamental mission is to ensure the continued availability of reliable and affordable energy for American, and Ohio, families and businesses.