Chris John: Enjoy the AC while you can; higher electricity costs on the horizon

08 09, 2015 by Daily Advertiser

Things are really heating up this summer — both literally and figuratively.

We are beginning the presidential debates in earnest and they are yielding plenty of questions. Will the inevitability of Hillary Clinton getting the endorsement of the Democratic Party be thwarted by Vice President Joe Biden entering the fray? Also, what is the likelihood of Donald Trump sustaining his momentum in the crowded 17-candidate race for the Republican Party nomination?

With the heat approaching new highs every day, it’s made for an entertaining distraction on our big screens in the AC-filled living rooms. With all the headlines of reality TV stars playing politics, it could be easy to overlook something that happened earlier this week.

With Congress wrapping up their business to get home for August recess, President Barack Obama enlisted a time-honored tactic of his on Monday: the regulatory executive order. At a press conference, he and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy laid out their plan to force power plants to shift away from using fossil fuels. This follows similar efforts this summer to redefine “waters of the United States” and the use of hydraulic fracturing.

Believe it or not, Louisiana is a coal-producing state and some electricity Louisianans consume is a result of coal. This rule is damaging to Louisiana. In one speech, he has now virtually doomed the coal industry to extinction.

It is important to remember it was the government, under the Carter administration, who encouraged the construction of coal-fired power plants in Louisiana. Louisiana citizens and industry paid for these investments in their electricity bills then. And it will be Louisiana citizens who will pay for the shutdown or conversion of these same facilities.

Just last year, President Obama was touting natural gas as the “bridge fuel” that would help carry out greenhouse gas reductions. His tone changed this week remaining all but silent on the benefits of natural gas and instead, rallying around a renewable incentive program.

The oil and gas industry has made incredible strides in this space through the use of newer technologies and efficiencies developed. Countless reports back up this claim. Additionally, these industry-led reductions have been done without the additional cost to tax payers that the EPA plan includes.

The bottom line is this rule will negatively impact the oil and gas industry and will result in higher electricity bills for all Louisianans.

There is a glimmer of hope. States have until 2018 to devise their plan on how to achieve these goals (assuming no congressional or judicial action halts the rule beforehand). Since it would be a final rule, the continuation of this program is determined by who is in the White House. The winner in 2016 could decide to shelve it. To borrow a phrase from Mr. Trump – the winner in 2016 could decide to say, “you’re fired” to such a tremendous burden on taxpayers in America that will have no material impact on global greenhouse gas emissions. Let’s hope they do.