- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The federal government is ushering in 2011 with new powers that will jack up energy costs for consumers. In the name of fighting unproven climate-change theories, bureaucrats are pushing through tough new business restrictions on emissions from energy plants that light and heat homes across the country. As a result, Americans in the near future may be forced to pay a hidden tax in their electric bills or, worse, find themselves in the dark and cold.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules, which take effect Jan. 2, will impose limits on carbon dioxide. The EPA’s primary targets are coal-plant operators, who will be forced to choose between retrofitting their facilities with expensive emissions-control equipment and cooling towers or shutting them down. Democratic Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV - whose West Virginia coal-country constituents have the most to lose from the tough emissions restrictions - announced Friday that he had failed in his 11th-hour attempt to force a Senate vote to suspend the regulations before they take effect. His measure would have delayed for two years the new emissions requirements for power plants, refineries and manufacturing factories under the Clean Air Act.

A study released Dec. 8 by the Brattle Group, an economic consultancy, found that the new EPA rules could force the retirement of older power plants that produce 50,000 to 67,000 megawatts of electricity, or roughly 20 percent of the nation’s coal-fired power plants. As many as 70 million homes could be subject to blackouts, according to American Solutions, an advocacy group for conventional energy. Equipping remaining plants to comply with the mandates would cost $100 billion to $180 billion, the Brattle report warned. Those expenses would be passed along to consumers in the form of higher electric bills.

Look no further than the White House to find the source of this assault on America’s energy supply. The Obama administration’s energy policy is driven by global-warming true believers. Their intent is to flip the economics of energy and raise the cost of carbon-dioxide-based power, making purported green energy appear more cost-efficient by comparison. A review of 2010 recalls a series of obstacles to a fully powered nation that Team Obama has tossed in the path of nuclear waste disposal, offshore oil and gas drilling and now coal-produced electricity. All the while, billions are funneled to politically favored industries in order to subsidize expensive alternatives such as solar panels that produce electricity at double the cost.

During this Great Recession, families must make wise decisions on how to allocate their limited financial resources. Unelected bureaucrats at the EPA have appropriated the power to force consumers to spend more on their energy bills, leaving less for other necessities. When the 112th Congress convenes on Jan. 5, the newly fortified Republican caucus needs to get behind the Rockefeller bill, which would halt EPA’s power grab and return energy choice to the people.