This commentary originally appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on May 5, 2015.

Recently, squabbles over which states intend to comply with the Clean Power Plan have emerged. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, through the Clean Power Plan, seeks to extend its regulatory tentacles out to everything that has an effect on carbon dioxide emission. This would include a retail consumer who uses electricity from a power plant to charge his or her phone, watch TV, use the air conditioner – or worse yet, charge their electric car.

Supporters of the plan claim 41 states intend to comply, while opponents say 32 states will fight the EPA’s proposed rule. This argument is reminiscent of grade school pedantry. Regardless of which states will comply, the proposed rule is a breathtaking overreach of authority, unworkable and requires an overhaul of the nation’s electric grid.

When does talking about compliance with the Clean Power Plan equate to an open-armed embrace of the EPA’s proposed rule? Perhaps for some states planning the demise of state sovereignty seems alluring, but for most it’s a weighing of the worst-case scenario. If all else fails and states cannot get judicial relief, what will it take to implement the rule and allow federal control of the energy sector?

Issues arising from the EPA’s thousand-page rules are complex and murky. Whether wise or not, state officials are simply looking into ways to avoid the most harm to its residents and state.

Texas is in a unique position: Eighty-five percent of the electric load is operated entirely intrastate by Electric Reliability Council of Texas. States seeking to comply with the plan are given a year to submit a state plan if they intend to proceed alone; states that are proceeding as part of a group are given an additional year to present a plan.

Keep in mind: Irrespective of intent to comply, backup plans are explored. States making up a regional unit, like the members of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, have met to discuss implementation options of the EPA’s rule.

The real cost of compliance with the Clean Power Plan, or any other mandate to reduce carbon dioxide through shuttering coal-fired plants, is state sovereignty, economic growth, and for Texas, the sacrifice of the most successful competitive electric market in the country.

In exchange for a loss of this magnitude is a projected warming reduction of an infinitesimal degree: 0.02 degrees Celsius. Whether or not you believe in man-made global warming, the EPA’s plan hardly seems worth the trade.

At its heart, the Clean Power Plan is no more than a base attempt to eliminate coal-fired electric generating plants. The four building blocks presented in the EPA’s plan are unfeasible even if they were lawful. For Texas, the compliance costs would reach well into the billons, shutter 19 to 25 coal plants and reduce grid stability dramatically.

If the Clean Power Plan is given full effect, the EPA would be able to dictate not only the end goal for a state’s energy policy, but also the best way to achieve it – reducing the states to nothing more than a marionette on federal strings.

For Texas, and for states willing to follow its lead, the first priority of the electric grid is not and should never be carbon content. Rather, the priority is reliability, safety and price. Every state should unflinchingly resist the EPA’s plan. The stakes are not carbon emissions or greenhouse gases — the stakes are rooted in the very concept of federalism and state authority.

Thompson is a policy analyst with the Armstrong Center for Energy & Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.