The EPA’s Clean Power Plan requires the national electric industry to cut power plants’ carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels. According to the EPA’s own projections, this costly quest at remaking our power grid will reduce the global temperature by 18 one-thousandths of a degree Celsius by 2100 — well within the margin of error of wildly inaccurate models.
In other words, for the pain of billions of dollars of building new wind and solar plants with attendant far higher electric bills for consumers, the estimated global temperature reduction won’t even be measurable to any degree of scientific certitude. Why do it then? By the EPA’s own admission, the Clean Power Plan is a component in a global PR scheme, expected to take center stage at the international climate talks in Paris this December.
But, three questions must be answered affirmatively before deploying government power that will result in higher electric bills: Does human activity contribute significantly to climate change? If so, then: Is the amount of human-caused climate change provably more negative than positive? If so, then: Can something be done about it with government action or technology that doesn’t, on balance, increase human suffering?
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said the Clean Power Plan would increase retail electric prices by 16 percent — but this estimate did not include billions for new transmission lines from remote wind or solar power projects, as well as billions more for backup power systems to come on line for days when the wind or the sun isn’t cooperating.
More troubling for this mandate from Washington, the Clean Power Plan mirrors the cap-and-trade scheme that has failed in Congress on every attempt. Worse than a mandate, the Clean Power Plan represents the worst sort of end-run around the democratic process that Americans have grown so weary from of late.
And, while proponents of the Clean Power Plan claim that it won’t remake the electrical grid overnight, it will begin to bite quickly as it takes several years to plan, fund and build power plants. Power generators are already shifting their plans and, in states where public utilities are regulated, and profits guaranteed, they are already planning on passing the higher costs onto consumers.
Of course, some businesses are promoting the plan—typically those rent-seeking businesses that have specialized in manipulating government for subsidies and advantageous rules. The fact is, the Clean Power Plan creates winners and losers in the marketplace — and any big increase in electricity costs will pressure manufacturers to cut costs, starting in many cases, with employees.
The U.S. military, one of the highly regarded institutions in American life, has even been enlisted in the effort to cede more freedom to bureaucracy with its issuance of a controversial report last year that ominously links humanitarian crises and unstable governments to climate change. What most Americans don’t suspect though is that today’s top brass is more political than ever. In fact, the Pentagon’s study has been debunked, with the report’s claim of “increased natural disasters” not at all being backed by science or history or even the United Nation’s latest global warming report, which said that it had “low confidence” in any long-term increase of cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes or hailstorms due to global warming. A century of analysis of the North Atlantic has shown no observable trends in the frequency of tropical storms or hurricanes.
The bottom line — as succinctly summarized by Dr. Bryan W. Shaw, chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, in an Oct. 16 letter to Congress — is that the Clean Power Plan “will not have any meaningful direct impact on respiratory health, atmospheric temperatures, or sea level rise,” which is a great reason for Texas to resist this regulatory attempt to enact the cap-and-trade scheme that Congress rejected.
DeVore served as a California lawmaker from 2004 to 2010, is a vice president with the Texas Public Policy Foundation and is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Retired Reserve.