There’s been a lot of talk these days about light bulbs. The Hill is reporting on how it’s shedding light on the “new Republican party,” one that is so “out of touch with the mainstream” because it only listens to it’s “extremist elements.” The New York Times has declared victory for the green movement, while some in the blogosphere have taken to referring to the bulb issue as a “fatal conceit,” referring to the White House’s fulfillment of Hayek’s description.
The issue has taken hold in the press as to be about light bulbs, which of course reasonable people know is an unfair characterization of a complicated issue. The real issue is obviously freedom. Freedom to make choices, no matter how insignificant they may seem. The light bulb situation is an example of that debate, but I’m starting to believe it is becoming a distraction. You don’t even have to travel far from the realm of light bulbs to see that our overly regulated lives are about to be far more restricted and the impact will be devestating.
Recently, the EPA released it’s Clean Air Transit Rule (CATR) under the name “The Cross Air Pollution Rule.” This essentially requires states that have power plants to redue emissions they produce which are carried downwind to neighboring states. CATR is widely expected to result in massive closures or temporary shutdowns of electric plants.
“The EPA is ignoring the cumulative economic damage new regulations will cause,” said Steve Miller, CEO of the coalition. “America’s coal-fuelled electric industry has been doing its part for the environment and the economy, but our industry needs adequate time to install clean coal technologies to comply with new regulations.”
EPA’s hazy precautionary analysis is its justification for destroying the lignite-mining industry in Texas — jettisoning 11 percent of the state’s electric generation, destroying more than 2,500 jobs directly and some 10,000 more indirectly in the lignite-mining industry, and forfeiting $2.4 billion in annual expenditures by the lignite-coal industry – the tax base for many Texas communities. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) told EPA that the new rule could destroy the jobs of 1,500 IBEW members working at six power plants in Texas.
The House is working on a stop to this with an appropriations bill that would cut EPA funding and delay the implementation of these rules, but of course there is an effort by the Congressional Democrats to dismantle the bill citing “environmental concerns.”
But CATR is far from the only concern to find it’s way out of the EPA. The NAT GAS Act (New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions) would give loopholessubsidies tax credits to natural gas vehicle producers and consumers. It’s the old adage from Ronald Reagan: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. I’m sure that no harm could possibly come from yet more subsidization of methods of energy that can’t compete directly against oil. After all, it’s worked out so well in the past.
If you think the EPA is done finding ways beyond your light bulb to mess up the economy and infringe on your freedom, you are mistaken. In it’s never ending quest to destroy all market based affordable fuel sources, the EPA is following the commands of the Commander in Chief in an attempt to bankrupt the coal industry.
Even though cap and trade went down in flames through legal routes, as The American Legislative Exchange reports, the commission has been using extra-legislative procedures, cloaked under the guise of the Clean Air Act, to to effectively declare war on the American coal industry.
What kind of extra legislative measures? Well rather than instituting realistic measure that might help ensure sensible coal production standards, the administration wants to use the proposed MACT (Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology) rules.
“The Utility MACT rule has the potential to be one of the most expensive and burdensome regulations the EPA has ever put forward – its going to directly impact 24% of our nation’s electricity generation resulting in higher energy bills for American families and businesses”, added Sullivan. “Utility MACT and the final transport rule are great examples of the EPA doing too much too fast with no regard for the economic consequences of their regulatory agenda.”
Besides, the effects are already rearing their ugly heads.
Power giant Liminant filed an 8-k with the SEC last night, basically saying that the reductions the EPA (outlined in CATR) has mandated in 6 months are not possible and will result in both paper losses immediately on the value of their SO2 trading allowances. But more importantly, they’ve indicated that they may have to shut down plants in order to comply with the 47% reduction of SO2 emissions the EPA has mandated in a 6 month time period (Jan 1, 2012 effective date). That timeline is simply not achievable. Luminant’s owner has said the same publicly, acknowledging that they may have to “mothball” some of their operations to comply.
While there are some reasons to be optimistic that the good fight is still being had, one thing has become abundantly clear: this administration and it’s green dreams are not interested in our little light bulb tiff. For them, it’s just a distraction from what’s really going on. And what’s really going on is that the EPA is back-dooring cap-n-trade. The administration is bypassing the Congress. Our economy, our jobs, our way of lives are truly under attack.
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