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Adding insult to the injury it plans to deal on American energy security, the Environmental Protection Agency has been caught in a lie that confirms their agenda of unilaterally imposing regulations without the consent of the American people.
The EPA’s current regulatory agenda of air and water regulations commonly referred to as the EPA Train Wreck, poses a significant threat to efficient energy production in the United States. (More information on this train wreck can be found here: Bureaucrazies Part 3)
The scope of the proposed rules and regulations coming out of the EPA naturally drew the attention and concern of some members of Congress who realize, that in this fragile economy, the impact of such an onslaught of new rules could severely limit the availability and affordability of energy. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was one member to raise concern. The Senator authored a letter to the Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeking further information on the potential impact of the EPA’s series of rules. FERC is charged primarily with protecting the reliability of the electric power grid in the United States. The EPA stated in its Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule (a key part of the regulatory train wreck) that they have been “reaching out to key stakeholders… with responsibility to assure an affordable and reliable electricity … including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC].” EPA officials were also quoted in media reports, most notably in a January issue of Energy Washington Week, claiming that the EPA was working on a joint modeling effort with FERC to determine the potential for closures of coal-fired power-plants. Clearly, according to the EPA’s claims, placing inquires with FERC was the natural first step in figuring out the potential implications of EPA’s new rules. The response Senator Murkowski received from FERC officials on August 1st, 2011 was more than disconcerting, and implicates EPA officials in distorting facts they have presented to Congress and perhaps violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the process by which regulations are promulgated.
Senator Murkowski’s letter to the FERC Chairman stated that she was “concerned about the potential impact of [the EPA’s] rules on the reliability and affordability of the nation’s electric supply.” She continued that “[a] reliable and affordable power supply is equally critical to the public welfare, including public health, and to our nation’s economic well-being.”
The response from FERC indicates that no formal assessments had been produced nor any interagency task force formed. The letter from FERC states that “the Commission has not conducted any full studies on the EPA rules,” and that “[t]he Commission has not participated in any interagency task force or other working group to address the impact of EPA’s proposed power sector rules.” Individual responses from various FERC officials are even blunter in refuting the EPA’s claims of inter-agency cooperation and joint-modeling. Marc Spitzer, a FERC Commissioner, recommends in his own letter to Senator Murkowski that FERC and the EPA engage “in a more formalized and expansive fashion.” He continues “such coordination would ensure that the EPA will not enforce its rules in a vacuum,” i.e., unilaterally. Commissioner Philip D. Moeller of FERC also authored an independent letter stating explicitly that with respect to “the impact of the listed EPA rules on electric reliability, the Commission has not acted or studied or provided assistance to any agency including EPA.”
While the EPA trumpets its supposed cooperation with FERC, multiple FERC Commissioners have outright denied that any sort of formal cooperation has existed, despite its requirement by law. The EPA has blatantly distorted the truth.
So why would a federal agency conduct itself in such a fashion? Why weren’t formal reports and task forces formed?
One hypothesis can be tied to some of the limited work that was actually conducted. An informal FERC analysis of the EPA’s proposed energy rules showed that 81 gigawatts of energy generating capacity could be forced into retirement as soon as January 2012 if the rules were to go into effect. Shutting down 81 gigawatts of electric power production would amount to shutting down nearly twice the renewable energy sources such as windmills and solar power plants that exist in the United States. Limiting the supply of affordable power to this extent would skyrocket energy costs, placing huge burdens on every sector of the American economy from auto-factories to middle class families trying to heat their homes.
Given the detrimental impact that limiting reliable and affordable power to American businesses and homes would have on the economy and nation as a whole, it’s no wonder the EPA has turned to such shameful tactics to pass its burdensome regulations. Given the implications presented in preliminary and informal analysis, it is imperative that Congress moves to halt the EPA’s new regulations from moving forward without first going back to the drawing board, properly consulting the officials at FERC and presenting a formal analysis to the American people.