Foundation Testifies at EPA Field Hearing on Clean Power Plan

Georgia Public Policy Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd testified Thursday, November 19, 2015 at the federal Environmental Protection Agency public hearings in Atlanta on the proposed federal plan and model rules for the Clean Power Plan. Hearings were held in  in Pittsburgh, Denver, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. The hearings provide interested parties the opportunity to present data, views or arguments concerning the proposed action. 

My name is Benita Dodd and I am Vice President of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, the state-based free market public policy research organization in Georgia. Thank you for the opportunity to address you on the proposed federal plan and model rules for the Clean Power Plan.

The Foundation opposes the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions, which the administration has fervently tried to relabel as carbon “pollution.”

No reasonable American wants to return to smoggy days and most would be willing to “sacrifice” if it would help the environment. But – whether you’re a climate change skeptic or believer – this has no effect on the climate. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted to Congress that this plan, intended to mitigate climate change, will barely move the needle on global temperatures.

She defended it, saying: “The value of this rule is not measured in that way. It is measured in showing strong domestic action which can actually trigger global action to address what’s a necessary action …”[1]

In August, President Obama said, “The only reason that China is getting serious about their emissions is because of us.” Then The New York Times reported on November 4 that China is actually burning up to 17 percent more coal per year than it previously reported, and the increase in carbon dioxide emissions alone “is greater than the whole German economy emits annually from fossil fuels.”[2]

This example America sets is expected to reduce global temperatures by 0.01 degrees Celsius. The average American is expected to see a drop of $85 in annual power bills. The EPA fact sheet claims the Clean Power Plan will shrink electricity bills by roughly 8 percent in 2030 or, as EPA puts it, $7 per month. This is credited to increased efficiency – that means using less electricity. That’s akin to telling people your grocery bill will be lower … without telling them they’ll have to make do with fewer groceries.

EPA estimates combined climate benefits and health co-benefits of $32 billion to $48 billion in 2030. It’s hard to understand where the climate “benefits” come from when there is already an admission that there is essentially no climate benefit.

It’s hard, too, to believe the EPA estimates on health benefits. When the Foundation testified before the EPA in Atlanta in 2014, we pointed out the plan’s claimed reduction in children’s asthma goes against the evidence.[3] Worse, it will hurt upward mobility for low-income families (where asthma is more prevalent), meaning fewer job opportunities and less money available to improve their quality of life and health.

Meanwhile, the American Action Forum warns it will cost the U.S. economy $2.5 trillion, close at least 66 coal-fired plants and eliminate 125,800 jobs.

There’s a greater problem. Coal will still be used, of course – just not in this country, where environmental responsibility is expected and demanded. As our sister think tank, the Texas Public Policy Foundation points out, the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions the EPA hopes to reduce across the country by 2030 would be emitted by China in less than two weeks.

But that’s not all. Consumer prices will increase; the cost of doing business will increase, causing more job losses (or shrinking job creation); more businesses will move off-shore, and Americans will deal with the price volatility of natural gas to replace the plentiful, reliable fuel source of coal.

Our energy intensity is continuing to decline, thanks to greater efficiencies. Our air quality continues to improve even as our energy use increases.

I am from South Africa originally, and I receive almost daily notifications from my family about load-shedding – scheduled power outages. The New York Times reported this week on the shortages of energy in sub Saharan Africa. It reported, too, that in South Africa, since 1994 the electrification of households increased from less than a third to 85 percent. That’s amazing, but it doesn’t mean much to my relatives who must cook on kerosene stoves or do homework by candlelight because of an unreliable grid. Americans deserve better – in the example we set and in the reliability of energy we have available.

Thank you.