Sep 23, 2014 - 4:30pm

Americans’ Energy Security Will Be Hit by EPA’s Carbon Regulations

Senior Editor, Digital Content

Peter Roff, a senior fellow at Frontiers of Freedom, writes in the Washington Examiner about EPA’s proposed carbon regulations and the effects of driving coal use into oblivion:

The proposed EPA regulations behind all this will change the system of power generation in fundamental ways; by the agency’s own estimates, nationwide electricity prices will increase 6 or 7 percent, in some cases as much as 12 percent.

Closing down coal-fired utility plants will drive up consumer costs because there isn’t a way to replace the base power load these plants generate. Consequently, ratepayers can expect sharp increases in their monthly bills and must prepare for the eventual reality that there may not be enough energy available on the grid to permit Americans to heat and cool their homes, power their businesses, or drive the manufacturing renaissance many business economists expect over the next five years.

Higher energy costs will mean added financial stress and increased energy insecurity for many Americans, concludes two Senators on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Tim Scott (R-SC ) write:

Even in the land of energy plenty, however, too many Americans suffer from energy insecurity; they cannot afford the energy required to heat or cool their homes or secure other basic needs such as refrigeration.

The report finds, “Almost three million households or 7 million people will enter energy insecurity across the country if household energy costs increase by 10 percent.” And if home energy costs increase by 10%, “more than 300,000 additional households with over 840,000 Americans would be pushed below the poverty line.”

As a result, higher energy prices “often crowd-out or eliminate other household essentials including food, clothing, medical care, and education.” In addition, those enduring energy insecurity are more likely to pay to increase their personal debt and more likely to be late on bill payments.

Earlier this year, the Energy Department predicted that retail power prices will rise by 4% in 2014 and rise by 13% by 2020. Some of this is due to federal regulations. Imagine if EPA's proposed carbon regulations go into effect and push coal out of America's energy mix? Reduced energy diversity will mean higher electricity costs.

To mitigate the impacts of energy cost increases on Americans’ energy security, Murkowski and Scott recommend “encouraging—or at least not actively disadvantaging—the supply of low-cost sources of electricity and heating fuels, and taking steps to minimize cost increases arising from emerging energy resources.”

A good start would be for EPA to abandon its costly and ineffective proposed carbon regulations. Dan Byers, senior director for policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy, told the Platts’ Coal Marketing Days conference in Pittsburgh, “The rest of the world wants electricity, and coal is going to deliver it. Global emissions are going to go up no matter what we do," he said.

We can't afford to push coal--an abundant, affordable fuel--out of the energy mix.

UPDATE: The Government Accountability Office found that more coal power plants are shutting down than expected:

According to GAO's analysis of public data, power companies now plan to retire a greater percentage of coal-fueled generating capacity and retrofit less capacity with environmental controls than the estimates GAO reported in July 2012. About 13 percent of coal-fueled generating capacity—42,192 megawatts (MW)—has either been retired since 2012 or is planned for retirement by 2025, which exceeds the estimates of 2 to 12 percent of capacity that GAO reported in 2012.

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.