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When people remember Richard Nixon, they think of Watergate or, possibly, his opening to China. But when I remember Richard Nixon, I don’t think of Watergate or China. Rather, I think of what is turning out to be the worst aspect of this troubled president’s legacy: establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In an era of big government and intrusive bureaucracies, the EPA tops them all in the promulgation of burdensome, unnecessary, expensive regulations that choke the life out of an already floundering economy and rob Americans of income they cannot afford to lose.
President Obama’s war on coal, lack of support for the Keystone Pipeline, and wasted billions on Solyndra and similar ill-advised projects can all be traced to the doorstep of the EPA. The EPA’s target of the moment is the power plant in your community that generates the electricity that lights, cools, and heats your home. Pending EPA regulations pertaining to power generation will substantially increase your power bill and eliminate jobs. The long-term effect of these regulations will be a reduction in your family income as the cost of compliance causes the price of most things you purchase on a regular basis to increase. There is precious little in our economy that is not affected by the cost of electric power.
Electric power is so fundamental to the quality of our daily lives that we hardly ever think of it except when: 1) it is interrupted by the weather or natural disasters, and 2) our power bill increases. Electric power is as essential to the health of the economy as it is to the health of your household. Consequently, an increase in the cost of electricity spreads like an ink blot throughout the economy increasing the cost of everything it touches. As the cost of electricity increases, the cost of everything associated with electricity increases creating a snowball effect that is felt by everyone.
The EPA’s pending regulations are aimed primarily at eliminating coal as the fuel for generating electricity. EPA officials are pushing their burdensome regulations on the American public in spite of the fact that 21 states depend almost entirely on coal for generating electricity and in spite of the fact that coal is one of the most readily available sources of energy in the world. In fact, according to the Heritage Foundation coal could overtake oil as the world’s premier energy source in as little as three years. Consider the following facts from the Heritage Foundation about coal as an energy resource:
• Coal is used to generate 41 percent of the world’s electricity and 30 percent of the world’s energy.
• Unlike in the United States, two of the world’s other largest economies plan to use more coal not less. More than 800 new coal-fired electricity generating plants are planned for India and China.
• Even with its stringent environmental regulations, Europe has no plans to eliminate coal as a major energy resource. In fact, Europe plans to build 69 new coal-fired electricity generation plants. Turkey and Russia—taken together—plan to build almost 100 new plants.
• In Australia, 75 percent of the nation’s electricity is generated by coal.
Obviously coal can be burned cleanly. In fact, the answer to air pollution is not to ban coal as an energy source but to develop technologies that burn it cleanly, and that has already happened. Hence the 69 new coal-fired plants planned for environmentally-conscious Europe.
The Heritage Foundation predicts that the EPA’s new coal regulations will eliminate approximately 600,000 jobs by 2023—270,000 of them will be high-skill, high-wage manufacturing jobs. Coal mining jobs will decrease by 30 percent. Of course, numbers like these that tell the tale broadly don’t always hit home with individual Americans who prefer to know what the regulations will mean to them personally. Fortunately, the Heritage Foundation has provided those numbers to. Over the period between now and 2023 a family of four in America will see its income decline by $1,200 per year, and this at a time when most Americans are already struggling.
Other countries around the world obviously understand the value of coal as an energy source, but President Obama and the EPA somehow don’t get it. The United States has practically bled jobs from its economy over the past three decades because of the low labor rates in China and India. Now President Obama and the EPA plan to make it even more difficult for American businesses to compete globally by imposing burdensome, costly restrictions on coal-based enterprises, restrictions that will produce no environmental benefit. The only thing the EPA will accomplish with its new coal regulations is an increase in the cost of living for Americans and a decrease in the number of jobs available for them. Thanks a lot Presidents Nixon and Obama. The former established the EPA. The latter transformed it into a job-killing monster.