Maze-like EPA Carbon Rule Graphic Shows Complexity of Costly Change

New illustrations showing the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon reduction rule making process are a bureaucratic delight but a consumer and electric producer’s nightmare.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s before-and-after graphics of the current three-step EPA rule making process and President Obama’s proposed carbon reduction rule making process look like a complicated blueprint of an electric circuit for a major system that only an expert can interpret. Compare it with the simple three-step process that electricity producers currently face when dealing with the EPA.

Business groups including the Business Council of Alabama, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, Governor Robert Bentley, Alabama’s U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, and others, question the EPA’s stated goal to reduce carbon emissions. The EPA rule will not affect power plants in foreign countries that currently produce more than half of the world’s carbon emissions.

BCA Environmental Committee member Trey Glenn testified at an Aug. 1 EPA hearing on the proposed regulations. Glenn, a former director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, said the proposed rules would increase electricity prices and hinder economic growth.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy said the EPA’s proposed mandate will reduce projected global emissions by a mere 1.3 percent by 2020, equivalent to 13.5 days of China’s carbon emissions, all at an astronomical and crippling cost. Proposed EPA regulations will alter the current power generation systems and increase electricity prices by between 6 percent and 12 percent.

The EPA without Congressional approval wants to force existing power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2030, from 2005 levels – Alabama’s must be cut by 26.7 percent, according to the NRECA. This regulation unfairly targets coal-fired electric plants, which could send electric bills through the roof and potentially cause brownouts or blackouts during peak demand in summers and winters.

Some utilities are choosing to shutter plants to reach the goal. The Energy Department predicts that retail power prices will increase 4 percent this year and 13 percent by 2020, some of it due to the federal regulations. Other estimates have this increase much higher.

The NRECA has an executive summary on the ramifications of the EPA’s 1,600-page proposed rule.

“NRECA believes that the EPA proposal is fundamentally flawed because it goes beyond the legal authorities under the clean Air Act and must be significantly changed,” the NRECA said. “The EPA’s proposal will also jeopardize reliability by reducing the overall amount of power generation available at times of peak use.”

The EPA is taking public comments until Dec. 1. It said it plans to release its final rule in June.

You can take action here.

–Dana Beyerle