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States Start Realizing that the Obama EPA is Threatening Their Economies (Update: Texas Hits Peak Demand)

I've written quite a bit about the Obama EPA's regulatory assault on Texas, mainly because I happen to live in Texas. The fact is, the EPA is chipping away at 26 states and their economies via the cross-state rule and the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule. The MACT rule alone could force enough power plant shutdowns to cost 30 to 70 gigawatts of power (one gigawatt powers about 750.000 homes). Some of the targeted states are starting to wake up to the threat: rate hikes, lost power production leading to outages, lost jobs, worse economies. Here's a sample of reaction in states beyond the Lone Star.

INDIANA

U.S. consumers, many of whom are struggling just to put food on the table, can little afford to pay substantial hikes for electricity. Every industry depends on electricity. Higher overhead costs mean fewer jobs and higher prices for products.  (Not the time for stricter emissions, Lafayette Journal and Courier, July 23, 2011).

The utility industry says the standard will lead to double-digit rate hikes for consumers and will likely require costly upgrades to some power plants.  (Effort to curb pollution means power bills will rise, Indianapolis Star, July 30, 2011)

OHIO

Even with 14 million Americans out of work and an economy still searching for light at the end of the tunnel, the EPA is poised to enact a series of back-door mandates that will stifle economic growth. And with the speed that this runaway train is traveling, Ohioans should be scared of the "Train Wreck" headed towards a town near you.  (Ken Blackwell: EPA's Train Wreck Could Leave Ohio in the Dark, Huffington Post, July 23, 2011)

MICHIGAN

Between now and then, DTE will have to shutter 10 coal-burning units, reducing capacity by 20 percent to meet new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on coal plants.  Updating the plants to comply with the new EPA standards in the three-year period allowed would be massively expensive. So DTE will take them off line.  That will reduce reserves to 6 percent and leave the system vulnerable to blackouts on scorching hot days like the ones we've had this month.  (EPA raises risk of blackouts, Detroit News, July 31, 2011)

GEORGIA

"Georgia Power said it can’t meet a five-month deadline imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cap and regulate two major pollutants from its coal-fired power plants. … The default could mean customers end up paying more money. … The utility also has said it plans to close two of the four coal-fired units at Plant Branch. Plant McDonough’s two coal units are being converted to three natural gas units, the first of which will start producing power next year." (Kristi Swartz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 23)

The Obama EPA is doing all of this despite the fact that, in Texas' case, it has its own clean air program which is at least as effective as the EPA's, and its emissions don't even affect other states. The EPA's own science shows that. And, over the last few decades, power generators nationwide have been reducing emissions on their own as a result of previous regulations.

Over the past several years, additional emissions controls have been introduced into the power generation fleet, which has reduced emissions even further. By 2015, the coal-fired power generation industry will have invested $125 billion in coal utilization technologies that burn coal cleaner and with more efficiency.

Power plant emissions are already down nearly 80 percent since 1970. A coal-fired power facility built today is, on average, 90 percent cleaner than the one it replaces, according to the National Energy Technology Laboratory. Ironically, the ability to build those new plants is next to impossible due to even more stringent EPA regulations.

This president came into office threatening to use the regulatory state to force changes on the US economy in ways that he knew would hurt. We're in an odd moment, with a government that is intentionally strangling the energy side of the economy and standing in the way of tapping into domestic oil and nuclear sources (while claiming that it cares about jobs). That leaves green, which is the end game for Obama, but green is unreliable, expensive and nowhere near ready to produce anything like the volumes of energy these states need. And if Spain is any hint at the future, green energy is also an open invitation to corruption.

This multi-state EPA assault is intentional and it is a power grab. And it needs to be stopped.

Update: And as if on cue, Texas faces peak demand thanks to the long, hot summer. Under Obama's plan, not only will rates skyrocket, but if the AC gets cut off, people will die.

“We are requesting that consumers and businesses reduce their electricity use during peak electricity hours from 3 to 7 p.m. today, particularly between 4 and 5 p.m. when we expect to hit another peak demand record,” said Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations.  “We do not know at this time if additional emergency steps will be needed.”

Forecast for peak demand today is 67,084 MW, exceeding yesterday’s new all-time record of 66,867 MW.  Prior to this year, the record was 65,776 MW (Aug. 23, 2010).