An Obama-era plan to drastically reduce carbon emissions is on its way to the regulatory scrap heap after the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday announced a repeal of the Clean Power Plan.
For Americans already struggling with much higher energy costs, the news will be welcome in many households trying to make ends meet.
“This was designed to cause electricity rates, according to [Obama] to necessarily skyrocket. So that won’t happen. The seniors, the poor on low and fixed income who had to choose between heating and eating will now, we hope, not have to,” said Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The Trump administration projects the move will result in $33 billion in avoided costs due to the proposed policy. Horner suspects the actual number is much higher.
Even though the plan was never implemented, Horner says Obama’s actions still exacted a heavy toll on blue collar America.
“He put a lot of people out of work. A lot of communities were devastated. There’s an inescapable connection between the opioid epidemic in that region and the devastation that was wrought by what was clearly a political and not an environmental agenda,” said Horner.
“He thought he was punishing corporations. He harmed badly many communities and the people in them,” added Horner.
Horner says the outlook is getting brighter and will be helped by Tuesday’s EPA action. But he says a lot of the damage is permanent.
“Employment in that industry is rebounding. I don’t know that it will ever get to where it was before it faces the awesome power of the federal government,” said Horner.
What makes the toll even more tragic, according to Horner, is that the Obama administration freely admitted the crackdown on carbon emissions wouldn’t actually accomplish anything.
“The former EPA administrator under President Obama (Gina McCarthy), who is decrying the climate impact of this decision, testified that there was no detectable climate impact from this rule. There is actually a consensus on this,” said Horner.
So what was the point of the tougher emissions standards if they weren’t going to improve our climate? Horner says Obama was very clear about it.
“He said in four speeches, in the exact same deliberate phrase, ‘This to finally make renewable energy profitable in America. That’s what this was about. It was never about the climate,” said Horner.
But while Horner and his allies celebrate Tuesday’s decision, he says the fight is far from over.
“We will start a rule making process. Today begins the repeal, a 60-day comment period to be followed by another request for comments about what to replace it with if anything,” said Horner, who is urging Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to scrap another Obama-era finding.
“They also made a declaration that carbon dioxide, a marginal greenhouse gas produced at the margins by man – not just through exhaling but by combusting hydrocarbon energy, the stuff that works, the reliable, affordable, abundant stuff. The administration now has to determine whether that really does endanger human health and welfare,” said Horner.
In urging the EPA to go further, Horner also applauds Trump and Pruitt for a move on Tuesday that he believes many other Republicans would be reluctant to take.
“We say pull it out root and branch. This is a very good start. I have to say most establishment Republicans would have shied from it and hoped for the best from the courts. We’re asking, now that these people have shown that they’re serious, fix the problem and undo the endangerment finding,” said Horner.
He says that explicit step is critical since domestic activists and even the United Nations are asking the courts in the U.S. to effectively make policy instead of the executive branch.
“You will have to replace it because this doesn’t have to go through Congress anymore. There’s enough on the books that the courts will take this over. The UN is issuing reports calling on attorneys general and private parties to ask the courts to take over this policy now, including the United States, to impose the Paris Treaty on us and so forth,” said Horner.
He says defenders of freedom need to stand in the gap against that unconstitutional effort and any future efforts to repeat Obama’s moves.
“It was a cruel gesture. It was virtue signaling. Thank God the EPA has said, ‘We’re going to formally repeal this rule.’ Let’s fix the problem and make it more difficult for someone like a President Warren to just come in and do this again,” he said.