Guest Column In The Clarion-Ledger: Obama Power Plan Costly For Mississippi
The Supreme Court recently hit the pause button on what could be the single most costly government regulation in the history of our country. In a 5-4 decision, the justices ordered that implementation of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan stop until a lower court determines whether the president’s signature environmental agenda item is in fact legal. While the legality of forcing the plan on every state in the nation is in question, the rule itself is just plain bad policy for Mississippi.
How does the Clean Power Plan negatively affect Mississippi families? It’s simple: by raising our electric bills. From a more technical aspect, the plan threatens electricity reliability and affordability by impacting Mississippi’s current power plant mix (think shutting down coal plants) through further regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. Imagine that — the Environmental Protection Agency wants to place more restrictions on us.
It’s not that we shouldn’t be concerned about our environment; we absolutely should. As Mississippians, we have a proud history of taking care of our environment and being conservationists. We all want clean air and water and we want to preserve our environment for the future of our children, but we also have to use common sense to balance a clean environment with economic development and the cost of keeping our lights on. It seems that every time the EPA finalizes a rule or regulation, it sets out to expand it. That makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Mississippi business and industry to comply and plan for the future. It’s hard to hit the bullseye when the target is constantly moving.
Although the Clean Power Plan will have a negative impact on the entire country, it affects Mississippi even more severely than most states. Utility companies and electric power associations in Mississippi have made significant financial investments to reduce CO2 emissions over the last several years. These investments have resulted in our state being ranked as the 13th best CO2 emission state in 2012. No credit was given for that progress. In fact, we’re punished for the progress that we have made. The EPA wants Mississippi to make a cut so drastic that we’ll have nearly the highest cost recovery in the country — a cost that will be paid for by Mississippi families.
Twenty-seven states have sued the federal government over the Clean Power Plan. Last year, Mississippi’s congressional delegation made our objections known to the Obama administration. The U.S. House and Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 24 last December to block the plan. Obama vetoed the resolution in an effort to save his agenda item. And while a veto might have stalled our progress, there are still battles to be fought.
So while the Supreme Court ruling to pause the implementation of the Clean Power Plan is good news, I won’t be satisfied until it is no longer a threat to Mississippi families and businesses. That might take an act of Congress with a Republican in the White House to approve it.
Gregg Harper is a fourth-term Republican lawmaker for the 3rd Congressional District of Mississippi.