BY MICHAEL R. FOX, PHD
One country cannot single-handedly curb global greenhouse gas emissions, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refuses to accept that idea.
The EPA is forging ahead with plans to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted from America’s largest power plants and industrial facilities. Never mind that no persuasive scientific case exists for the claim that man-made emissions are causing global warming, given that 99% of the atmospheric carbon dioxide is from natural sources – and whether carbon dioxide is even harmful remains open to question. Leave aside the fact that the recent email scandal involving some of the self-same scientists who are calling for curbs on greenhouse gases has cast much of their work in doubt.
The regulations, which will take effect in January, won’t do a thing to reduce global emissions but they will increase the cost of electricity in the United States, undermine the competitiveness of American industries, and wind up sending more jobs overseas.
The regulations are sweeping and shortsighted. They are being promulgated under the Clean Air Act, which the EPA has twisted to suit the administration’s policy of increasing the use of renewable energy sources.
The naiveté of trying to tackle a global issue like curbing greenhouse-gas emissions without international cooperation is staggering. The United States has little to gain and unfortunately much to lose.
President Obama has hammered home the need to put Americans back to work, to grow our industrial sector and create jobs of the sort that our middle class depends on. But despite his rhetoric, the EPA’s agenda will have precisely the opposite result.
Under the EPA’s new regulations, states that will suffer the most economically are those that rely heavily on the use of fossil fuels to provide electricity – the very ones that make up the core of the nation’s manufacturing and industrial sector. As older power plants are either shut down or retrofitted to comply with greenhouse-gas regulations, the price of electricity will inevitably rise and the cost will be passed directly onto businesses, workers and consumers. Simply put, the EPA’s policy amounts to a nationwide energy tax.
Financial analysts estimate that by the end of this decade it could cost as much as $150 billion in capital investment to comply with new regulations. And the key thing to bear in mind is that Congress had no say in establishing this policy. It was foisted on the American public by the EPA, with the support of President Obama.
Unless Congress takes action to block the EPA from issuing the regulations, U.S. energy companies and major industries will have to curtail greenhouse emissions at great cost, while developing nations blithely add new fossil-fuel power plants in record numbers.
China has already surpassed the United States as the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. And India, with its massive population and rapidly growing economy, is not too far behind. We are reminded time and again that we live and work in an increasingly flat world. When energy prices rise for American companies, the cost of doing business goes up and it becomes more difficult for our companies to compete in international markets.
So the irony is that the supposed gain in emission reductions that would be achieved under the EPA’s plan will be quickly negated by ever-increasing emissions from China and other so-called developing nations – the very same economic adversaries that are competing directly with U.S. companies.
What the EPA has come up with is not really a strategy to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions so much as a scheme to replace fossil fuels with greater use of renewable energy sources. As such, it is a poorly-conceived plan that will have little or no impact on reducing global greenhouse-gas emissions, while encumbering our own industries with higher costs, undermining their competitiveness and throwing thousands of additional people out of work at a time when our country is struggling to emerge from the deepest recession since the 1930s.
Michael R. Fox, Ph.D., is a retired nuclear scientist and university chemistry professor. He is the science and energy writer/reporter for the HawaiiReport.com. A resident of Kaneohe, Hawaii, he has nearly 40 years experience in the energy field. His interests and activities in the communications of science, energy, and the environment has led to several communications awards, hundreds of speeches, and many appearances on television and talk shows.