Turning on the television and sitting back in air-conditioned comfort is about to get much, much more expensive. President Obama used the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday to declare war on affordable fuel. The average household can expect to pay a $5,000 annual premium for the privilege of enjoying the conveniences of modern life.
The directive, outlined over 645 pages, empowers the EPA to enforce extreme and radical regulations in each state in pursuit of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-burning power plants by "approximately 30 percent from CO2 emission levels in 2005." The administration regulates carbon dioxide as an "air pollutant," but carbon dioxide is not all bad. One of the largest sources of carbon dioxide is exhaling by humans, and that's always a good thing. Without carbon dioxide, plants would wither and man (and woman, too) would suffocate.
Like most government schemes, the new EPA rule employs extreme measures that won't be effective, at great expense to taxpayers and to the economy, with methods based in flawed science and bad math. It addresses a problem that exists in the fertile imagination of the foolishly frightened.
What is real is that hundreds of coal-fueled power plants will close for the states to meet the new requirements. Since more than one-third of America's power comes from coal, and coal is the largest source of electricity for half the states, shuttering coal-fired plants will create a dramatic shortage of energy.
Filling the gap with natural gas would increase the cost of natural gas by 28 percent, according to estimates by the Heritage Foundation, raising the price of everything from cars and coffee to coats and carrots. Replacing coal with windmills and solar panels won't meet national energy needs. The nation's manufacturing plants can't compete with manufacturers overseas if they have to turn off the electricity when the sun goes down.
The White House reveals that its motivation is fundamentally political by shunning nuclear power, the cleanest energy available, and the source that makes the most sense under the flawed premise of "carbon dioxide is bad."
Coal is mined mostly in the places that Mr. Obama derisively describes as peopled by bitter clingers to guns and religion, while trendy "renewable" companies are run by his cronies who contribute money to re-elect Democrats. This shameless political maneuvering comes at great cost to the rest of the country.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates the cost of shutting down power plants to meet the new regulations will cost the economy $51 billion and 224,000 jobs each year through 2030. The regulations would force Americans to pay $289 billion more for electricity, and reduce disposable income for U.S. households by $586 billion through 2030.
According to the EPA's own estimates, all this pain would be inflicted to reduce the world's temperature by a microscopic 0.018 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.
Fortunately, there's still time for the plan to be reversed. It's the duty of Congress to declare war and, once war is won, enforce an armistice in the war on coal by making it clear that the administration has no right to unilaterally declare carbon dioxide a pollutant.