A guest post from Rep. Lynne Riley (R-John’s Creek) regarding the proposed new EPA regulations on carbon emissions. As she points out, Georgia still relies on coal powered plants for a third of our power generation. The proposed regulations would have a dramatic impact on our state’s ability to meet it’s power consumption needs. Discuss the pros and cons of the proposed regulation and Rep. Riley’s comments.
July 28, 2014
To: [email protected] RE: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602
As a member of the Georgia General Assembly, I support policy initiatives that provide opportunity and economic growth for the Peach State. One item that provides both of these is affordable and reliable electricity. In Georgia, we proudly endorse a diverse energy portfolio by embracing all available sources. Although we are continuously developing our renewable and alternative energy sources, our state still relies on coal for 33% of our electricity production. It is through coal that we are able to keep our electricity grids reliable and our rates affordable. EPA’s recently proposed carbon regulations, and the effective ban they place on coal-based power, are cause for great concern for the vibrant economic future of both Georgia and the United States of America.
Domestically, this rule will have several negative consequences. The effective ban on coal-based power will cause the loss of thousands of jobs, directly and indirectly. Indirect job loss is especially concerning because industries far beyond coal will be affected by the rule. Attempting to replace coal with more expensive and less abundant forms of energy will cause unavoidable increases in power costs for every business. In order to absorb higher electricity costs, businesses will be forced to reduce their workforce and increase the prices of their products, leading to an overall rise in the cost of living. The potential combination of price increases and job losses constitutes an unacceptable hardship for Georgia families. Furthermore, the availability of electricity for all consumers will also be in question, since relying on less fuel sources is a grave threat to our grid security. As energy demand continues to increase, it is reckless to reduce reliance on coal, our most abundant and affordable fuel source. Our nation needs to develop all available energy options to fuel continued economic growth.
In addition to narrowing our energy options, effectively eliminating coal from our energy portfolio will impede global competitiveness. As businesses find it more difficult to afford to operate in the United States, they will surely relocate to other countries. While domestic businesses struggle to comply with EPA requirements, businesses in other nations will offer similar products at a lower cost. American products will suffer in the global market, causing us to lose our competitive edge. With the increasingly global economy, it is imperative that all U.S. policies foster competitive business opportunity.
Overall, it is crucial that EPA considers these costs when writing the final rule. The financial hardships that our citizens would face, and diminished global competitiveness for our nations’ businesses, are both unacceptable outcomes. I entreat EPA to revise their proposed carbon standards, and develop a new approach that embraces all available forms of energy. By doing this, states will have the flexibility they need to protect the environment without sacrificing the economy. Fossil fuels, such as coal, and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive – Georgia’s energy portfolio is evidence of this fact. It is important that this approach is taken nationwide to ensure households and businesses have the electricity they need at prices they can afford.