The Obama administration's so-called "clean power" regulation seeks to shut down more of America's power generation under the guise of protecting the climate.
In reality, this proposed regulation would have a negligible effect on global climate but a profoundly negative impact on countless American families already struggling.
The regulation is unfair. It's probably illegal. And state officials can do something about it; in fact, many are already fighting back.
I'm calling for others to join. Here's why. Every state has the power, in theory at least, to design its own approach to meet the excessive and arbitrary mandates imposed by this regulation. But the purported flexibility is actually illusory.
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States report that the regulation's mandates are not technologically achievable, cannot be implemented under rushed timelines and threaten both state economies and energy reliability for families. Moreover, the regulation actually punishes states for billions they've already invested in environmental upgrades.
And yet, the Obama administration is still threatening to impose its own — presumably more draconian — plan on any state that doesn't do as it's told. It sounds like a scary outcome. But states shouldn't be frightened, nor should they allow themselves to be bullied.
For starters, the legal basis for this regulation is flimsy at best. As iconic left-leaning law professor Laurence Tribe put it, the administration's effort goes "far beyond its lawful authority." And even in the unlikely event that the regulation does pass legal muster, it's difficult to conceive how a plan imposed from Washington would be much different from what a state might develop on its own.
Since the Obama administration has already decreed that it will be the judge of whether a plan is acceptable or not, it's hard to see the White House agreeing to much that diverges from its ideological agenda.
Just consider how extreme this regulation is. According to a respected group of economists, the regulation could cost our country about a third of a trillion dollars in compliance costs and cause electricity price hikes in nearly every state.
And who gets hit hardest when energy bills go up? Lower-income families. Seniors on Social Security and a fixed budget. Those who struggle just to get by. These are the people the administration has chosen to attack.
In Kentucky, the regulation would likely shrink our economy by almost $2 billion and throw countless out of work. The commonwealth's coal industry alone has already shed thousands of coal jobs during this administration's tenure. And now, many more of the thousands of Kentuckians whose jobs are tied to coal — including many proud miners who just want to give their children a better life — are likely to lose their jobs, too.
In short, this regulation threatens to hurt a lot of people without doing much for the global environment. In fact, it could even make things worse by chasing industrial activity overseas to high-polluting countries like China.
So what are governors and state officials who value the well-being of the middle class to do? Here's my advice:
Don't be complicit in the administration's attack on the middle class. Think twice before submitting a state plan — which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits — when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won't be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism.
Refusing to go along at this time with such an extreme proposed regulation would give the courts time to figure out if it is even legal, and it would give Congress more time to fight back. We're devising strategies now to do just that.
So for now, hold back on the costly process of complying. A better outcome may yet be possible.