Opinion Columns & Blogs

Jeff Glendening: Block EPA energy mandate

The Obama administration is on a crusade against our state’s energy policies – and Kansas is fighting back. When the administration announced last year that it would force us to slash our greenhouse-gas emissions, our state quickly sued the federal government. That was the right thing to do – the mandate is illegal and would harm our economy in numerous ways.

But despite numerous legal challenges, the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency will release the final regulation soon. Once that happens, our state will be legally bound to implement it.

Unless our Legislature acts.

When state legislators convene again in Topeka on Jan. 12, they should pass legislation that prevents Kansas taxpayers from paying for the EPA mandate until our lawsuit has been resolved. We shouldn’t be forced to spend time or money acting on Washington’s demands until we know if they’re legal.

This is an important way to protect us from the mandate’s negative effects. The regulation, which is known as the Clean Power Plan, will force Kansas to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 23 percent in the coming years.

There are only so many ways to attain this goal – and the most likely is to shut down power plants. In fact, the electricity industry’s regulatory body, the North American Electric Reliability Corp., already estimates that the regulations could lower the electricity grid’s reliability, even to the point of blackouts.

This less-reliable energy system is also going to cost us more. Kansas households can expect to see their yearly electricity bills increase by 10 percent, according to a new study by NERA Economic Consulting.

And as utility prices rise, so will the cost of everyday necessities. Businesses and manufacturers will pass their increased electricity costs onto consumers. We’ll be paying more at home and at the cash register.

So what do we get in return for our sacrifice? Not much. The latest evidence indicates the plan will only lower temperatures by 0.02 degrees of global warming – and affect ocean levels by only 0.01 inch – between now and the end of this century. Surely such insignificant results don’t warrant such economic pain.

The evidence and the law seem to be stacked against the regulations, and yet our tax dollars are still at risk because Washington won’t back down. That’s why our lawmakers in Topeka must act to protect Kansas taxpayers.

Jeff Glendening is the Kansas state director of Americans for Prosperity.