EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

June 9, 2014

Column: New energy regulations offer economic pain for no environmental gain

Interested in paying a massive new energy tax? Especially one that would bring no environmental benefit? Probably not, but that’s what you can expect in the wake of draft regulations just released by the Environmental Protection Agency -- ones that could cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent.

President Barack Obama warned us it was coming. In 2008, he said that electricity prices would “necessarily skyrocket” under his cap-and-trade proposal. And when our elected officials rejected that, he said there was more than one way to skin the cat.

But now he’s singing a different tune. Promoting the new regulations, Obama said, “Your electricity bills will shrink as these standards spur investment in energy efficiency, cutting waste, and ultimately, we’re going to be saving money for homes and for businesses.”

Electricity bills will shrink? Is that a “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” type of promise?

To attract state buy-in, the agency’s regulation has different targets for different states and would allow states flexibility in implementation plans. But flexibility would merely shift the costs around, not prevent them from happening.

If anything, state and regional implementation plans would protect special interests, which could then pass the costs on to American families. The president stressed that the regulation “provides a huge incentives for states and consumers to become more energy efficient.”

Families and businesses don’t need a federal regulation or mandate to save money on energy. That incentive already exists: It’s called saving money.

Businesses and families make energy-saving investments when it makes sense to do so. The myopic view from the feds is that efficiency upgrades always make sense if they save money. And that’s not always the case. When the government forces efficiency choices on people, it takes away choices or overrides them.

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