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Commentary by Kuper Jones: Obama EPA end run will increase financial burdens on Americans

The Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency is at it again. In early January, the administration proposed sweeping new top-down rules governing new coal-fired power plants known as the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS).

The rules seek to curb emissions by forcing an expensive, commercially untested technology on the coal industry. The finalization of these rules could be the beginning of the end of coal-fired plants and will lead to higher electricity costs for American families at a time when they can least afford it. Americans don’t deserve to be given a backseat to EPA’s agenda.

The proposed standards should not be finalized. They are just the latest front the Obama administration has opened in its war on coal, and its ongoing effort to make things as difficult as possible for the energy industry.

Current rules governing existing power plants have been causing, and will continue to cause, plants to shut down across the country. The proposed performance standards continue down this path, seeking to impose unproven and expensive carbon capture and sequestration technology as a new industry standard.

EPA asserts that carbon capture and sequestration is an effective technology and can be easily implemented throughout the industry. Yet there is no evidence to support this claim.

The agency cites three model projects as proof that the technology is feasible and can be commercially demonstrated. But what the EPA fails to note is that none of these “model projects” have even made it out of construction phases.

In fact, there is not a single full-scale coal plant in the world utilizing carbon capture.

Not only will this new mandate place a new burden on the production of electricity production (more than 40 percent of which is generated by coal), it will also increase the cost of electricity between 35 to 52 percent per megawatt hour, according to the Institute for Energy Research.

That’s a cost you can bet will be baked into the cost of your monthly utility bill. Additionally, Department of Energy officials have said costs could increase up to 80 percent.

It’s bad enough that President Obama’s EPA is attempting to establish regulations that aren’t based on scientific or economic feasibility, but the lengths they are going to finalize them are even more alarming.

The Agency has been trying to avoid a legally mandated review of carbon capture by a work group delegated by the Science Advisory Board, and has been successful in doing so thus far. Back in November, the board work group recommended a full review of the science behind carbon capture and sequestration -- but then reversed course the other week.

Why? The Obama EPA decreed that carbon capture is not within the purview of board, arguing inexplicably that sequestration has nothing to do with carbon capture and sequestration technology.

Clearly, achieving the desired outcome to mollify their political base is more important to this administration than following the rules.

It is abundantly clear in the proposed New Source Performance Standards that President Obama’s EPA has little regard for science or economics, and even less for the well-being of American families, businesses and workers.

Americans don’t deserve to pay more for electricity so that President Obama and his political cronies can check off another item on their radical, anti-coal agenda. EPA should put Americans and common-sense first by not finalizing the proposed standards.

Kuper (pronounced Cooper) Jones is a Policy Analyst with Americans for Prosperity, a conservative think-tank that advocates for entrepreneurship and fiscal and regulatory restraint.

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