Louisiana is one of twenty-seven states filing suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for dangerous overreach.
Through its Clean Power Plan, the EPA will force states to increase their dependence on renewable energy sources in order to reduce their carbon dioxide emission levels.
Undoubtedly, this plan will bring economic hardships to every state in the country. A quick look at Louisiana explains:
The Pelican State currently gets about one-fifth of its electricity from affordable, yet carbon-dioxide-emitting coal, and just a very small amount from renewable sources. So, abiding by the Clean Power Plan would require drastic changes.
According to the plan, Louisiana will have to lower its carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 30 percent of 2012 levels by 2030. Since renewable sources are much more expensive than coal, energy costs will increase drastically, and families and businesses will be burdened with tough financial decisions.
If Louisiana wants to avoid such economic devastation, legal challenges alone will not be enough. Thomas Pyle of the American Energy Alliance has pointed out that while the Supreme Court remanded the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxins Standards for failing to consider the burdensome cost of compliance, the ruling came too late. About 40 gigawatts of reliable coal fuel – the capacity to power millions of homes – had already been shut down. This was exactly the outcome the EPA had hoped for, according to their own Gina McCarthy. In an interview with Bill Maher, McCarthy admitted:
“Even if we don’t [win the legal battle], it was 3 years ago…most of them are already incompliance, investments have been made.”
To avoid the costs that will come with the Clean Power Plan version of this story, Louisiana needs a multi-front approach involving all levels of government.
In addition to the attorney general’s participation in the legal battle, Governor Edwards should refrain from submitting a binding state implantation plan and file for a two-year extension request. Filing an extension is more important than ever since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit recently denied motions to stay the Clean Power Plan.
The extension would give the state until 2018 to file (or not file) an implementation plan, allotting them more time to truly weigh the costs of reducing coal energy before actually doing so.
While Governor Edwards should see the extension is the best option, the legislature should also take steps to protect Louisianans. For example, some states are considering laws that would require legislative approval of any plan the Governor wishes to submit to the EPA.
These kinds of checks are extremely rational. One man’s opinion about climate change and carbon dioxide should not determine the fate of energy costs in Louisiana. Especially since, believer of climate change or not, the return on investment of this plan makes it unjustifiable.
According to an EPA model, this plan’s effect on the climate is minute at best. Nicolas Loris of The Heritage Foundation recently released a report analyzing the Clean Power Plan, where he noted:
“Using the “Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Induced Climate Change,” developed with support from the EPA, climatologists Paul Knappenberger and Patrick Michaels estimate that the climate regulations will avert a meager –0.018 degree Celsius (C) of warming by the year 2100…the U.S. could cut its CO2 emissions 100 percent and it would not make a difference in global warming….evidence continues to show lower climate sensitivity to increases in global CO2 emissions, meaning that emissions cuts would be even more futile.”
State leaders cannot let the EPA rob Louisiana of one of its few positive titles – fifth lowest energy costs in the country.