Friday, August 07, 2015
Billy Long: Obama's EPA proposal will hurt hard working Missourians
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final rule on power plant emissions this week, a little more than two years after President Obama issued executive actions to carry out his “Climate Action Plan.” This 1,560-page final rule, including a framework plan for EPA to impose on states opting out of crafting their carbon reduction plans, is more stringent than the rule it proposed last year. This is bound to have an even steeper impact on southwest Missourians’ budgets as energy bills are very likely to skyrocket even more.
The clear target: coal. Coal has long been an affordable, reliable and abundant source of energy for Missouri. In fact, coal supplies more than 80 percent of Missouri’s energy demand and has kept Missourians’ electric rates very affordable and below the national average.
Unfortunately, we can expect that to change. Given Missouri’s reliance on coal, an adjustment must be made following the EPA’s rule despite the leaps and bounds made to clean up Missouri’s energy generation, and it will come at a cost. The final EPA rule increases the national emissions reduction goal from 30 to 32 percent and de-emphasizes natural gas, our next best option for abundant and affordable energy, as an alternative. Further, Missouri’s mandate to reduce emissions increased from 21 percent to 37 percent. Overall, Missouri could lose generating capacity at six power plants across the state and one could completely close. The James River Power Station and John Twitty Energy Center, which supply power to the Springfield area, as well as other facilities across the state powering the Ozarks are listed for potential impacts.
The economics are simple. Limiting the energy supply while maintaining or increasing demand means southwest Missourians will have to pay more to keep the lights on. A recent study of EPA’s less-strict proposed plan predicted a 22 percent electric rate increase for Missourians in the coming decade. Worse, I am concerned about what reducing our primary source of electricity and quickly shifting our reliance to another power source will mean for electric grid reliability. That concern was echoed during a May 19 Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing when the North American Electric Reliability Corporation president and CEO told me that he questions whether alternatives to coal, such as natural gas, “would be there every day in the cold days of winter.”
The Obama Administration’s onerous EPA proposal will hit those that can least afford it the hardest. Hard working Missourians struggling to make ends meet will be devastated with yet another huge increase in their electric bill with the lurking potential of a winter chill in the cold days of an Ozarks winter due to supply shortages. I strongly support legislation to allow states to opt out of any plan that would have a negative impact on electric rates or reliability and to reduce funding to EPA’s regulatory programs. Rest assured that I will continue this fight for the people of Missouri’s Seventh District.