Barrasso: Clean Power Plan Is a National Energy Tax; Blunt: Will Raise Utility Bills

By Susan Jones | August 5, 2015 | 7:00am EDT
A pile of coal at the North Omaha Station, a coal-burning power station, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, file)

( - "The president yesterday did another end-run around Congress and an end-run around the American people with his climate regulations," Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told a news conference on Tuesday.

He noted that President Obama "couldn't get this sort of thing passed" even when he had a Democrat-majority Congress in his first term. "Why?" Barrasso asked. "Well, because it's a national energy tax, and people don't like it. They don't like it to the fact that 32 states have come out against what the president in his proposal."

Barrasso said the Clean Power Plan produced by the Environmental Protection Agency and endorsed by Obama on Monday will reduce energy reliability, jobs, and economic growth.

"And it's going to cost people in their states more for energy," Barrasso warned.

"So I'd say, Mr. President, why don't we vote on this? Otherwise it's regulation without representation. All of us want energy that is reliable, clean, and affordable. And you take a look at these regulations, the president ignores the cost, he exaggerates the benefits. I will tell you, the costs are real and the benefits are unproven.

"You look at the economic growth and the struggling economy that we have, I will tell you that these regulations are going to ... force our economy to continue to struggle."

'Find the families that...want to pay even more'

"As you're talking to people, find the families that really love paying their utility bill now and want to pay even more. I think you're going to have a hard time finding those families," Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told the same news conference.

He said the carbon reduction plan Obama announced on Monday "will have the impact of raising utility bills and it'll have disproportionate impact on poor families and working families and middle class families that can barely pay their utility bill now.

Local utilities pass along their costs to consumers, Blunt noted. "In 75 percent of the country, rural electric co-ops provide the power, and all they can do is go to their board and say, 'this is what it cost to produce the electricity. Now, let's charge everybody the increase per kilowatt hour that the new costs have that the old cost didn't have.'"

Blunt said his home state of Missouri is 80 percent dependent on coal-fired power plants. "And as those are cast aside -- not yet paid for, not yet used their life up -- somebody continues to have to pay for them." That won't change, he said. Customers will continue to pay for the unused coal-fired plants, which are cleaner and more efficent than ever, in addtion to the new power source that replaces them.

"The administration says, 'Well, this'll encourage people to buy more energy efficient appliances and use less electricity and get better windows.' Who do you think are going to be the last people to get the more energy-efficient appliances and the last people to get better windows and the last people to get more insulation? This impacts poor families and working families in a negative way."

Blunt said the nation should tap its energy sources, including coal, "instead of running away from it as if casting it aside doesn't have any negative impact on American families and American opportunities."

The EPA's Clean Power Plan requires the nation to cut its carbon dioxide emissions 32 percent by 2030.

States have until 2018 to submit their final emission reduction plans to the EPA. Sixteen of them will have more stringent targets to reduce carbon dioxide than those in Obama's original proposal last year. The aim is to put coal-fired plants out of business, forcing states to turn to "green" energy sources instead.

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