Commentary: let’s keep up the fight for affordable, reliable energy

President Obama’s environmental overreach was recently slowed down by the United States Supreme Court, which plans to determine the legality of the Environmental Protection Agency Power Plan. This is good news for Arizona and the 27 other states that joined the lawsuit to stop Obama’s far-reaching energy regulations that tax power, kill jobs, and harm the most vulnerable Arizonans.

By Boaz Whitbeck

By Boaz Witbeck

A recent study by National Economic Research Associates projects that President Obama’s environmental regulations will increase Arizona’s energy rates 10 percent on average each year more than they would without the EPA Power Plan rule.

There are 1.2 million low-income and middle class families in Arizona that earn an average of $2,000 per month and spend 15 percent of their budget on energy costs. The average family spends about $2,033 a year for residential energy, which would lead to an additional $200 each year in costs. For families living paycheck to paycheck, this would mean less money to pay for rent and groceries.

The rising energy costs due to the EPA Power Plan would make energy unaffordable for hardworking families trying to make ends meet. Another study shows that Arizona’s minorities and senior residents would be the most affected by energy price increases. The burden of President Obama’s energy regulations would be borne by Arizona’s most vulnerable populations.

Jobs in Arizona will also be threatened if the EPA Power Plan continues to move forward despite the freeze of the EPA rule by the Supreme Court. The 7,640 coal-related jobs and 6,200 manufacturing jobs in Arizona are at risk by the Obama administration’s policy decisions, plus the thousands of Arizona businesses that will have to make cuts due to increasing energy rates.

The Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity has seen first-hand the damage the EPA Power Plan will do to small communities. In October of last year, we held a protest in Joseph City, protesting the EPA’s plans to shut down the coal-fired Cholla power plant. At the protest, we met some families whose members had worked at the plant for three generations. Now, they are being forced to move elsewhere.  Everybody told us the same thing: “the EPA’s going to kill this little town.”

Sadly, the EPA Power Plan is all pain, and no gain. While the plan will have severe consequences on the Arizona economy, the plan will have virtually no effect on global climate change. According to the EPA’s own climate models, the regulation will only reduce global temperatures by 0.018 degrees by 2100, 84 years from now. This is an imperceptible amount of climate change that will come at high economic costs.

The target of the Obama administration’s plan is the coal industry. Coal is about 29 percent of the energy that Arizona uses to keep its energy rates affordable and reliable. If the EPA Power Plan is allowed to be implemented and parts of the rule are not struck down by the Supreme Court, Arizona’s energy companies will be forced to invest in unaffordable and unreliable energy sources that will cause electricity costs to skyrocket.

Because of the Supreme Court’s ruling to halt Obama’s energy regulation overreach, the deadline for Arizona to submit an extension for a state plan to comply with the EPA will likely be pushed back, giving time to determine the state’s next course of action.

Arizona has a responsibility to protect the economy so citizens can have peace of mind and provide for their families. Arizonans should not have to bear the economic burden of paying for a climate change plan that will have very little effect on the environment both now and in the future. The hardworking people of

Arizona should continue to voice their concerns to state leaders and state regulators about how their economic futures will be impacted by Washington, D.C. bureaucrats.

Editor’s note: Mr. Witbeck is the Arizona policy analyst for Americans for Prosperity

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