Indiana State Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis)
200 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: 800-382-9467 or 317-232-9400
Obama’s energy rules will hurt Indiana
President Obama’s proposed regulations to reduce carbon emissions from existing sources remind me of Obamacare. Like his health-care plan, the plan is complex, disruptive and expensive. And the president’s promises will fall short. It will have little or no impact on worldwide carbon emissions, but it will succeed in closing coal plants needed to power our economy. It will raise electric bills for all customers, including low-income Americans and seniors on fixed incomes.
The first problem with the rule is simple but significant. Unlike efforts to control sulfur dioxide, mercury and particulates, there is no technology currently available to control carbon emissions. The only way to meet the standard is to use economy-slowing measures like fuel switching and closing coal power plants. Both of these measures will eliminate good-paying jobs.
Instead, the president’s plan encourages the use of renewables, like wind and solar energy, but these intermittent power sources are not always available. The proposal promotes energy efficiency, a concept I also support. Reducing energy use is a good way to make sure we use our energy resources wisely, but energy efficiency is not a power source that can be called upon when electricity demand is high.
Finally, let’s look at cap and trade. The program to control sulfur dioxide worked well because scrubber technology could be used to reduce emissions. Absent a technology to control carbon, the only way cap and trade can work is to rely on plant shutdowns or a reduction in industrial activities. This is bad for our economy and the American workers who will lose their jobs.
So where do we stand with respect to carbon emissions? Due to the development of shale gas, energy efficiency policies and the downturn in our economy, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions declined by 12 percent between 2005 and 2012. As the economy has improved, U.S. emissions rose slightly in 2013, but overall our country already is reducing its carbon footprint without a costly federal mandate.
That doesn’t mean other countries are following suit. Countries in need of electricity for growing populations are building coal plants. So while the United States is trending in a positive direction, other countries can easily wipe out any emission reductions we achieve.
Finally, let’s consider recent events. This past winter, the Midwest and much of the country suffered historic subzero temperatures due to a polar vortex. Natural gas prices were high and in some cases gas was not available. The coal plants that will be closed under Obama’s plan were critical to meeting our winter heating and energy needs.
What could future cold winters mean without these plants? High electric prices are inevitable under Obama’s carbon control plan but even worse are the reliability concerns it creates. Will the power be available at any price?
The new carbon plan may sound good but, like Obamacare, it ignores economic realities. This federal mandate will be yet another wet blanket atop our already struggling economy. Hardworking Hoosiers can’t afford to lose their jobs or foot the bill for skyrocketing energy rates — and neither can the rest of America.
Chair, Indiana Senate Utilities Committee