WMC: EPA's global warming rule will kill Wisconsin jobs

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Scott Manley
August 8, 2015

The federal Environmental Protection Agency issued its final global warming rule for coal-fired power plants Monday, and despite rearranging the deck chairs on this economy-sinking Titanic of costly regulations, the rule will kill jobs and force families to pay more for their electricity.

There are many reasons the EPA's new global warming rule are bad for Wisconsin, but for the sake of brevity, I have boiled the list down to the top five reasons the rule will amount to a self-inflicted wound on our economy.

1. The rule will be extremely costly. Previous estimates from state utility regulators predicted costs ranging from $3.4 billion to $13.4 billion for Wisconsin power plants. The final rule actually requires stricter emission targets for Wisconsin, thus driving costs higher. These higher costs will be paid by anyone who uses electricity.

2. The rule will kill middle-class jobs. Manufacturers cannot compete unless they have access to affordable energy. The EPA rule will raise electricity prices, driving factory jobs overseas to countries such as China. Wisconsin will be hit especially hard because manufacturing is our No. 1 business sector. The unfortunate reality is that thousands of middle-class factory workers will pay the price for these regulations with their jobs.

3. The rule is ineffective. Regardless of what you think about the science of global warming, it's clear the EPA rule will not meaningfully impact global temperature. An analysis of the prior version of the rule, using the EPA's own data and assumptions, predicted it would reduce the average global temperature by a miniscule 0.016 degrees Fahrenheit. It would also reduce the sea level by 0.01 inches, or about the thickness of a sheet of paper. Despite its oppressive economic cost, the rule will produce negligible climate benefits—it's all pain and no gain.

4. The rule sets poor energy policy. The United States is blessed with abundant energy, yet the EPA rule sets us on the path to energy scarcity—and the higher costs that accompany it. Our country has the largest coal reserves in the world—more than 250 years of supply—but the EPA rule seeks to cut ourselves off from this abundant, affordable and domestic source of energy. Instead of using coal to our strategic energy advantage against competitors such as China, President Obama and his EPA are making it economically untenable.

5. The rule is illegal. The EPA goes far beyond the authority granted by Congress to regulate power plants and instead seeks to regulate activity “outside the fence” of these facilities. For example, the rule seeks to impose economywide energy efficiency and renewable energy mandates that EPA has no authority to impose.

Quite simply, the EPA's new global warming rule is an economic disaster waiting to happen. The unelected Washington, D.C., bureaucrats are steering our economy on a collision course with unaffordable energy and lost jobs. Our only hope is for federal courts to steer us back on track by invalidating this costly rule.

Scott Manley is vice president of government relations for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, 501 E. Washington Ave., Madison, WI 53703; phone 608-258-3400; email [email protected]. Sidney H. Bliss, publisher of The Gazette, is on WMC's board of directors.

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