On Monday President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a plan that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants–many of which are coal-fired– by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The proposed rule could mean big changes for Texas, the leading carbon emitter in the country.
Coal-fired power plants and fossil fuels have helped Texas become the nation’s energy leader. Thanks in part to energy generated by fossil fuels, Texas is home to a booming economy and affordable living costs.
Critics of the EPA plan claim it has waged a war on the coal industry, and that it will force jobs overseas, drive up energy costs, and ultimately cost Texas jobs.
29 members of the state’s congressional delegation penned a joint letter of concern to the EPA. The authors included numerous outspoken Democrats who rarely oppose the Obama Administration’s agenda, such as House members Gene Green and Sheila Jackson Lee.
“Texas leads the nation in population growth and electricity demand,” the letter said. “With a robust manufacturing base, and as the leading producer of oil, gas, and petrochemical products, our state is an economic engine for the entire nation. …Given such growth and potential, EPA should recognize that Texans require an all-of-the-above approach to power generation, not one that will raise the cost of electricity by selectively eliminating certain types of fossil fuels.”
The letter pointed out that a stable, affordable energy has a direct impact on many local Texas communities, including rural ones.
It said, “If regulatory changes result in the retirement of a significant amount of generation capacity, it will lead to higher electricity rates, threats to grid reliability, and a loss of jobs.”
The letter’s 29 authors also questioned the legality of the EPA’s plan, which in their view should be “directed by Congress.”
But EPA officials insist that the rule would benefit the environment by making deep cuts to “climate-altering emissions.”
Former EPA official Al Armendariz downplayed the plan’s detrimental impact on jobs and energy. He told the Houston Chronicle, “We will hear a lot of complaining about the rule, but we have a lot of options in Texas that other states do not have.”
“In Texas, the tremendous potential for wind power or solar power is going to be very significant in terms of designing the state’s plan,” the Environmental Defense Fund’s Megan Ceronsky reportedly said during a conference call.
But most Texans don’t agree.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01) echoed the sentiment in the congressional delegation’s letter. In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas he said, “President Obama’s plan to combat global warming is a actually a plan that will ultimately shut down power plants and cause air conditioning bills to ‘necessarily skyrocket’ as he promised when he was a candidate. Unfortunately, that appears to be one of the few campaign promises he has kept.”
Gohmert concluded, “These regulations are intrusive, punitive and ineffective. It is my hope that the Senate Democrats will listen to the American men and woman, who have already tightened their belts in this economy, and stop this disaster from being implemented. Let’s not force a procedure that kills the patient.”
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.