By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, July 29, 2014, the people of Alabama were represented in Atlanta by both Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) and the Governor’s senior advisor, Blaine Galliher (R). The pair testified Tuesday against the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed new rule limiting carbon emissions from power plants.
Attorney General Strange said that Alabama consumers would face higher electric bills and State coal workers would suffer job cuts if the proposed new EPA rule is adopted.
Furthermore, he challenged EPA bureaucrats’ defense that the new carbon rule would allow states “flexibility” in complying with the agency’s costly new benchmarks.
AG Strange said, “Repeating over and over the word ‘flexibility’ is not an adequate defense or adequate answer to the low-income consumers in my State, or any other state, who will ask why they must pay more to reduce CO2 emissions when those reductions cannot and will not impact the global climate.”
Blaine Galliher testified, “I am the Senior Advisor to Alabama’s Governor, Robert Bentley. My comments today reflect Governor Bentley’s deep philosophical belief and concern with EPA’s proposed environmental regulations. These regulations will dictate how utilities generate power and how consumers use that power for decades to come. In doing so, the proposal effectively restructures the electric sector. The costs are real: the benefits are not.”
Galliher said, “The link between affordable energy and economic growth cannot be ignored. Throughout Governor Bentley’s term, Alabama has aggressively pursued new industry and jobs. Alabama’s manufacturing industry has proven to be extremely valuable to our economy. In 2011, the manufacturing sector provided more than 237,000 direct jobs in Alabama, and created many more indirect jobs and small businesses. Alabama’s manufacturing industry also produced more than $13 billion in exports. These economic contributions depend on low cost energy. But compliance with the proposal for reductions in CO2 emissions by almost 30% will directly cost the state by cost of compliance, increased energy rates, loss of jobs and industry, including coal-industry and related jobs, and the negative impact of lessened energy reliability.”
AG Strange said, “Congress did not intend for the Clean Air Act section 111(d) to have such far-reaching consequences for the American people. Those consequences, moreover, would stem from a patently unlawful application of the Clean Air Act. It would do so at the expense of State authority that is expressly identified and preserved in the Clean Air Act and in the unquestionable jurisdiction of States over intrastate electricity markets.”
Attorney General Strange is one of nine Attorneys General to join a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration’s proposed new carbon rule, charging that the EPA is seeking to extend the scope of the Clean Water Act beyond the limits of the law.
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce predicts that the compliance cost for these new regulations will be $28 billion each year to 2030, which is a cumulative total of nearly $480 billion. This is three times larger than EPA’s estimate. Rising electric rates will damage our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). According to estimates, the loss in GDP will be $50 billion per year, peaking at $100 billion in 2025. To bring these numbers into perspective, a typical family in Alabama would lose monthly disposable income during the time contemplated by the regulation resulting from higher utility rates. The impact on Alabama’s poorer families is disproportionate and devastating. While it is abundantly clear that Alabama will incur these costs, the benefits are vague. Any claim that the proposed guidelines will make a material difference in global temperatures is dubious at best. Theoretically, the rule might reduce global concentration of carbon dioxide by less than one percent, and it might reduce global temperatures by less than a hundredth of a degree. Coal plant retirement would result in a diminished capacity of 114 gigawatts, or about 40% of existing capacity. EPA’s proposal jeopardizes reliability by reducing available resources for power generation during peak times of use and demand. The extreme cold of last winter provides the unmistakable lesson that fuel diversity is necessary to achieve both energy reliability and a cost effective solution to our nation’s power needs.”
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said in a written statement, “The link between affordable energy and economic growth is important to the people in Alabama. Alabama’s coal mining industry employs more than 4,500 workers and supports other industries that provide ancillary services to the mining industry. The new EPA plan will hurt the Alabama economy and force us to comply with Washington mandates that could result in higher electricity bills for Alabama families and business owners.”
Attorney General Strange said, “The State of Alabama vigorously opposes EPA’s proposed mandate to effectively restructure the electric sector, as it would have disastrous consequences for electric reliability and the economy.”
Galliher said in his testimony,
“Alabama believes that the proposed guidelines, if they become effective in 2015, will condemn 50% of the Alabama miners to the unemployment line and result in a much lower standard of living for the families of miners. Today in our state, there are many hard-working families who depend on the coal industry to make an honest living and who will not be able to maintain that standard of living if the proposed GHG standards are promulgated by the EPA. The State of Alabama and Governor Bentley strongly oppose EPA’s proposed mandate to effectively restructure the electric sector. It will have disastrous consequences for Alabama’s economy, result in costs to implement, reduce electric power reliability and increase the cost of power to Alabama families and business. The proposal will devastate the Alabama coal industry. EPA seeks to expand the scope and reach of Section 111(d) and would do so at the expense of Alabama’s authority that is expressly identified and preserved in the Clean Air Act. The minute effect on global warming and the vague health benefits to Alabama citizens comes at too high a price. There is simply no rationale that can support this regulation. In summary, the Agency should heed the collective warnings of interested stakeholders, and, in the end, halt this regulation.”
The Congress has already rejected President’s Obama’s alarmist anti-coal environmental agenda, but like his immigration reform ideas, he is pushing his agenda through anyway by going around the Congress through Executive actions.
The hearings before the EPA continue on Tuesday.