The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced it would finalize three enormous rules regulating carbon emissions this summer, as a part of the Obama administration’s plan to implement an ideological, environmentalist agenda. One rule in particular, the Clean Power Plan, would have a devastating effect on America’s electricity industry and the U.S. economy.
The generation and retail provision of electricity has been the prerogative of state governments since the passage of the 1935 Federal Power Act. The law was premised on the notion that an electric utility is a “local institution” and should be “locally controlled,” as articulated by former U.S. Sen. Burton Wheeler of Montana, one of the statute’s sponsors. It established a bright line between state and federal jurisdiction, whereby Washington regulates interstate wholesale power sales and the states oversee retail electricity markets within their borders.
While not perfect, that longstanding model has served the nation pretty well. So it came as a surprise last summer when the Obama administration proposed the Clean Power Plan, an unprecedented power grab that would usurp oversight of the electric industry from the 50 states and give it to the EPA.
Historically, states have overseen their electricity industry to incentivize affordability, reliability and use of local fuel sources. The Clean Power Plan, on the other hand, would jettison these sensible state-determined goals and instead impose a federally determined goal for resource planning: carbon reduction. The result will be more expensive and less reliable power for American industry and consumers.
Then there is the issue of the agency itself. Considering recent events at the EPA, it is deeply worrying for it to be entrusted with such a major responsibility.