The following editorial is written by State Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown).
This week, Atlanta played host to a two-day hearing that was attended by concerned citizens from across the South, descending on the city from places as far away as Kentucky. The hearing focused on new federal regulations aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants – yet another one of President Obama’s overreaching executive orders – this time being executed by the EPA.
Not surprisingly, busses of environmentalists were on hand for the hearings and many staged rallies showing their support for the EPA’s regulations were organized. It felt like a manufactured circus. But when you’re a deep-pocketed environmental group, creating such a scene isn’t hard—especially when you have the backing of our own president. I wonder if these environmentalists have looked at their electricity bills lately, or if, perhaps their personal budgets are so big that they don’t have to worry about rising energy costs.
In reality, most families and businesses do worry about the bottom line. Higher costs make a tangible difference in their daily lives. And with energy costs already on the rise because of EPA’s past regulations, more costly red tape spells disaster for Georgia.
As these environmentalists used fire-and-brimstone oratory to incite fear about climate change among rally attendees, on Tuesday, several other rallies took place with a decidedly different tone.
These rallies highlighted concerns of Georgia consumers—of moms, seniors, business owners and many others—who are all very troubled about what these federal regulations mean for them.
One thing that is for certain: they will bear the brunt of the costs associated with EPA’s plan.
Our communities cannot afford to pay more for electricity, which is exactly what these regulations would produce. We cannot afford to face potential power outages; again, a certain outcome of EPA’s plan. It was ironic, then, when a massive power outage forced a location change for the hearing in Atlanta.
Perhaps this was a foreshadowing of what’s to come.
My colleagues and I passed House Resolution 1158 (HR 1158) earlier this year, a measure that asserts our state’s primacy in setting energy policy, with resounding bipartisan support. Knowing EPA’s regulations were in the pipeline, we wanted to put forward our own commonsense approach that balanced cost and reliability concerns with the need to invest in new energy sources.
Georgia is home to solar projects, alongside coal, natural gas and nuclear plants. This fuel diversity helps keep balance in our energy portfolio, and that equates to cost stability and reliable power. EPA’s regulations, however, will effectively cut coal out of that mix. Considering that coal is one of the lowest-cost and most reliable fuel sources we have – and that we use it to generate one third of our state’s electricity – minimizing its use will surely upset the balance we’ve worked so hard to achieve.
We wouldn’t try to legislate for Alabama or Florida, so why is the federal government forcing a “one size fits all” policy for Georgia? EPA keeps telling us that there is great flexibility in implementing its regulations. But reading EPA’s proposal, it’s quite clear that our state’s own plan is being completely thwarted and the progress we’ve made wholly ignored.
No amount of money or organizing from environmental groups can silence the concerns about EPA’s regulations being voiced by Georgia consumers. A future without coal-based electricity is bad for Georgia, and that’s just what EPA’s plan will leave us facing.