- - Wednesday, May 28, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama will personally drive the next nail into the coffin of America’s economy next week, proudly announcing harsh new Environmental Protection Agency restrictions on energy.

It won’t just be power plants that feel the new Clean Air Act restrictions expected Monday. Expect the president to brag about “flexibility,” which is a bureaucratic way of spreading the burdens so they will fall on consumers all across the country. The result may be delayed by lawsuits that challenge the regulations, but will in the end cause what candidate Mr. Obama long ago promised would be “skyrocketing” electric bills under his energy agenda.

Why? For the salvation of mankind.

On something simpler, like deciding if there’s wrongdoing within the Veterans Administration, Mr. Obama insists on more study. But on supposed man-made climate destruction of Planet Earth a hundred years from now, he claims the debate is over: New regulations must dictate that we kill America’s economy now, lest our economy kill the planet in a century or so.

It’s as though the Terminator came back and visited Mr. Obama, spooking him with visions of an apocalypse-yet-to-come. More likely, what he actually saw were just the special effects that Hollywood is so fond of.


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The old-fashioned EPA approach to clean air would require reducing emissions at their source. But in this case, the agency is not targeting something tangible, dirty and visible like soot or carbon particles. Instead, officials are targeting carbon dioxide, which is invisible whether it’s coming out of a smokestack or exhaled from your lungs or released by plants at night.

They call it a greenhouse gas, but the only “green” is the money that it yields in subsidies and crony capitalism profits for those who politick against CO2.

Coal-fired electric power plants are the largest CO2 emitters and will be most heavily hit by the new regulations. But instead of simply limiting plant emissions, Mr. Obama is expected to claim he’s granting flexibility for states to choose other methods. But choosing only from limited, federally-approved options which all feature extra bureaucracy and higher energy bills.

Those options are like a classic old Three Stooges skit, where a dictator offers the Stooges a choice either of being burned at the stake or beheaded. Curly chooses the fire. “After all,” he says, “a hot steak is better than a cold chop.”

The equally-distasteful options likely to be offered by Mr. Obama’s EPA are that each state must choose to impose expensive requirements on itself, such as:

Its own cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions;

Renewable energy requirements, dictating that utilities must use expensive solar or wind power to generate electricity in place of affordable fossil fuels;

Still-on-the-drawing board carbon-capture-and-sequestration systems for coal plants, paying untold research and development costs.

All will hurt the economy and hurt consumers.

Just as it happened with Obamacare, the White House will take pains to buy friends with how some details are crafted by the EPA. Insurance companies hope for billions in bailouts for the losses they’ve taken under Obamacare. It’s payback for being good soldiers who aided passage of the law and have kept most of their complaints private.

We can expect similar divide-and-conquer tactics among some utilities and other energy industry players when EPA’s new clean-air regulations are announced.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is poised to warn the country of how badly the proposal will set back economic growth (which already was a stagnant 0.1 percent during this year’s first quarter), including a projected loss of 224,000 jobs. But pro-EPA insiders like the Natural Resources Defense Council will be leading cheers for Monday’s expected announcement.

President Obama, however, will treat Monday as a personal triumph, taking the White House podium to proclaim fulfillment of the pledge he made at the 2008 Democratic National Convention: “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal.”

If the launch of Mr. Obama’s health care plan for the planet is anything like his launch of healthcare.gov, we’re in for some mighty big claims and some mighty big disappointments.

Ernest Istook is a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma. Listen to his daily talk-radio show online at www.kzlsam.com, noon to 3 p.m. EST. Get his free email newsletter by signing up at eepurl.com/JPojD.

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