As of September 6, state lawmakers have exactly one year to make one of the most important decisions of their time in office: Will Pennsylvania submit an implementation plan to the Environmental Protection Agency as demanded under President Obama's new carbon regulations?
For the well-being of every Pennsylvanian, it is imperative they choose not to.
The stakes could not be any greater for the Keystone State. Officially called the "Clean Power Plan," this regulation would force Pennsylvania to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 35 percent by 2030. In so doing, it would effectively hand over control of our state's energy grid to unelected federal regulators in Washington, D.C., and hurt Pennsylvania jobs and family budgets across the state.
This is unacceptable. State lawmakers–and specifically, state legislators–should not go along. Given the enormous costs and negligible benefits this regulation will bring about, they should tell the EPA "no thanks."
First and foremost, cutting power plant emissions so dramatically over such a short period of time will force many of our current energy sources–ones we've already bought and paid for–to shut down. This will come at an immense cost. We'll have to increasingly rely on renewables like wind and solar that can be three and four times more expensive.
But it won't be utility companies that wind up paying for this costly transition–it will be Pennsylvania families stuck paying higher bills.
A study by Energy Ventures Analysis estimates every household in the state will see gas and electricity bills jump over $1,000 by 2020. Another by NERA Economic Consulting shows the pain won't end there. Electricity rates will continue increasing by 14 percent on average each year through at least 2031, when the regulation is fully implemented.
Our state's job creators will be similarly hit. Industrial electricity rates are expected to spike by 62 percent by 2020 compared to 2012. Businesses–especially energy-intensive manufacturers, which provide one in every 10 Pennsylvania jobs–will be forced to cut costs elsewhere, including pay, benefits, and jobs altogether. Once the dust finally settles, the Heritage Foundation estimates we'll lose 29,000 well-paying manufacturing jobs.
Adding insult to injury is President Obama's carbon regulations will produce essentially zero environmental benefits. According to the EPA's own climate models, it will slow global warming by just 0.018 degrees some 85 years from now.
As for other supposed benefits, they were calculated using data that's two decades old. Even the non-partisan Government Accountability Office found the EPA's cost-benefit analyses are "limited in their usefulness."
The "all pain and no gain" nature of this regulation is why it is absolutely critical that Pennsylvania not submit an implementation plan to the EPA. It's the only way to protect hardworking Pennsylvanians from the prospect of fewer jobs, lower incomes, and less opportunity.
The only good news is our state legislature has a say in all of this. Unlike other states where unelected environmental agencies submit plans directly to the EPA–without any buy-in from elected representatives–last year Pennsylvania state legislators passed a law requiring their approval before any plan is submitted to the EPA, so long as certain conditions are met. This important step toward accountability ensures Pennsylvania families' interests are protected.
It seems likely Governor Wolf will hand over PA's energy grid to Washington, DC. It's up to state legislators to do what's best for their constituents. That means refusing to approve any plan that raises electricity rates on Pennsylvania families and destroys thousands of well-paying jobs. These next 12 months will be among the most important of their times in office–and for the well-being of all Pennsylvanians, too.
The PA Department of Environmental P rotection has just begun a series of 14 listening sessions around the state. This is your chance to make your voice heard. Join us in telling Governor Wolf that PA's future is too important to hand over to bureaucrats in Washington.
Beth Anne Mumford is the Pennsylvania state director of Americans for Prosperity.