U.S. Senator Shelly Moore Capito (D-WVA) did not pull any punches when she quizzed EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on Tuesday. The topic was the economic implications of President Barack Obama’s air agenda, and Ms. Capito rightly believed the agenda would have a negative impact on the nation’s (and West Virginia’s) poor and middle class families.
Under discussion was the new EPA Clean Power Plan, which demands that the states sets state targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants or else the EPA will set the target themselves. It is the centerpiece of Obama’s Climate Action Plan announced in June 2013, and compiles with his more recent pledge to the U.N. that the U.S. will cut its carbon emissions by as much as 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
Whether one believes in the climate change hypothesis or not, this plan is a disaster on so many levels the most important of which is that it will kill jobs especially in the coal industry. With the U.S. labor participation rate at disastrous low levels, the economy will find it hard recover. On top of that the EPA rule is looking to replace cheap energy with more expensive alternate energy. Over all it will raise the price of energy and place an heavy burden on middle and lower economic class families.
A study commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce predicts the new regulation will leave minority communities with disproportionately fewer jobs, lower incomes and higher poverty than whites.
West Virginia, the state Senator Capito represents will get double hit by this regulation. According to the Census Bureau the median household income in the state $42, 581 ranks 46th out of of the 50 states (or if President Obama is reading this 46th out of the 57 states). The other hit comes from the fact that West Virginia is the number two state in coal production. While the Senator was representing her state when she bashed the EPA, she was speaking for middle class and lower income families across the country who will be paying higher energy costs thanks to the new regulations:
The administration has not given enough consideration of the “human cost” of stricter regulations on ozone levels, particularly the cost to middle- and lower-income families, Capito said. She cited projections estimating the cost of energy will rise 17 to 22 percent as a result of the regulation. She said this will have an impact on the 430,000 middle- and lower-income people who make an average of $1,900 a month and spend 17 percent of their income on energy.
“What kind of transparency have you brought to areas, like my area in West Virginia, that will be deeply affected?” Capito asked.
McCabe noted the numbers Capito cited did not come from the EPA. She said the Agency did an analysis, as it does for every major rule, which found that by 2030 the average cost of a person’s electric bill would go down by 7 percent as a result of increased efficiency.
Capito wondered why the EPA decided to make the nation’s top energy exporters the area’s hardest hit by the regulation.
“It’s all laid out in our discussion. The Clean Air Act tells us to set expectations on industry that are uniform across the country. We set an expected emission rate,” McCabe said.
“Which not one plant in my state meets,” Capito interjected.
“They’re not required to meet it tomorrow; they required to meet it by 2030,” McCabe responded.
At the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) in late July, a legislative panel passed a resolution urging state attorneys general to sue EPA over the rule. The SLC is comprised of 15 member states that stretch from West Virginia to Texas and includes Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma.
On Tuesday Capito bluntly warned that many governors are planning to ignore the directive to submit the plans. She asked the EPA’s McCabe what would happen if states did not submit plans. Would they the subject of government intervention? McCabe answered in the affirmative. She said the EPA would step in and develop a plan for the non-compliant states.
That’s all the U.S. economy needs right now— an over zealous EPA setting clean air rules which will make little change in the CO2 levels in the air, to protect an Earth that hasn’t seen any warming in 18 years and 8 months. The only major change which will result from these EPA regulations is the suppression of an economy suffering from almost seven years of Obama-nomics.