Ohio EPA Director Butler Tells Congress: Ohio Will Challenge US EPA Overreach If Necessary

Yesterday, Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler told the U.S. House Energy and Power Subcommittee that Ohio will fight to stop the U.S. EPA’s attempt to overhaul the nation’s power generation, transmission, and distribution system. As reflected in Dir. Butler’s testimony – as well as the more than 2 million comments submitted last year by employers and ratepayers and the Ohio Chamber — the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan is a hastily designed effort to reduce coal-based electricity in the US. Unfortunately, the U.S. EPA has chosen to ignore technical and economic realities in favor of pursuing a political agenda under the guise of global climate protection.

There are a few stubborn facts Ohio employers should be aware of while supporters claim the Clean Power Plan (CPP) will save our environment. For one, global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy-related sources are down 10% from 2005, though compliance levels within the proposed Clean Power Plan will only count CO2 reductions that have taken place since 2012. According to the International Energy Agency, carbon emission levels remained flat in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years when global economic growth (+3% in 2014) did not raise CO2 emissions – demonstrating that reduction efforts already in place are proving effective.

Director Butler describes several “severe limitations” in the EPA’s analysis, the most concerning of which to Ohio employers is the immediate threat to power grid reliability. Local grid congestion, seasonal demand variations, and a lack of details regarding transmission and distribution leaves serious questions about probable impacts on reliability unanswered. Butler also highlighted the cost analysis of the EPA’s proposal done by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that predicted wholesale market energy prices would be 39% higher by 2025 – with a corresponding price tag for Ohioans of about $2.5 billion.

The consensus among legal experts, including the Ohio EPA, is the CPP is draconian and its effects unclear. Regulations that impact reliability and affordability of our energy infrastructure should require a more transparent and fact based regulatory process. The Ohio Chamber and its business sector allies applaud Director Butler’s continued efforts to oppose this unnecessary rule.