Feb 29, 2016 - 9:00am

Fight Against Power Plant Rule Gains Steam

Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) so-called Clean Power Plan is the mother of all regulations, aiming to radically transform the electricity sector under the guise of restricting greenhouse gas emissions from domestic power plants. The new standards would drive up energy costs on businesses and consumers, impose tens of billions in annual compliance costs, and reduce our nation’s global competitiveness. Worst of all, the rule is unlikely to reduce global carbon emissions, instead simply shifting them—and U.S. jobs—to other countries that have not implemented similar restrictions.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce works at all levels to fight the worst regulations—in the agencies, before Congress, and, when all other options are exhausted, in the courts. Together with 150 other parties—including associations, organizations, and 27 states—the Chamber filed suit against EPA’s power plant regulations in a federal appeals court, taking on the agency’s breathtaking power grab and wrong-headed decision to ignore and circumvent Congress.

In a major boost to our efforts, the Supreme Court issued a stay in the case, blocking EPA from implementing the rule until legal challenges are resolved. The Court’s decision is an important acknowledgment of the validity of our concerns, but there will be no certainty for states, energy providers, workers, or consumers until a final decision on the legality of the rule is reached.  

In the meantime, opposition to the power plant regulations is gaining steam. Last week, a powerful coalition of 166 state and local chambers of commerce and business organizations representing 40 states signed an amicus brief supporting the Chamber’s lawsuit to overturn the rule.

These state and local partners are natural allies in the fight because the states will be on the hook for these radical, federally mandated reductions. If the rule stands, the states will have to abide by the reduction targets handed down on high from Washington. They will lose their traditional authority over their power grids while watching electricity and compliance costs in their communities climb. Rather than allowing the states to do what they have historically done well—make sustained environmental improvements without harming their economies—the federal government believes it knows best.

But if the government truly knew best, it would seek to preserve the diversity of our country’s energy portfolio. It wouldn’t saddle states, consumers, and businesses with high costs for minimal gain. It wouldn’t pursue a politically driven agenda at the expense of our economy. EPA’s rule proves otherwise—so we must keep up the fight using every tool at our disposal.

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About the Author

About the Author

Thomas J. Donohue
Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Thomas J. Donohue is advisor and former chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.