By now, you’ve probably read about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Clean Power Plan,” and maybe even what it will mean for consumers, businesses, and anyone else who uses electricity in their daily life.
On its face, the Clean Power Plan is a set of state-based targets for reductions in carbon emissions. More accurately, the CPP is a backdoor attempt to shut down coal-fired generation in the US.
Needless to say, telling and forcing states how to generate electricity is a whole new form of federal overreach, but more than that, the EPA seems blissfully ignorant of – or unconcerned by – the devastating impact these rules will have on hardworking American families. The ripple effect of these regulations will go far beyond the jobs destroyed when businesses have to choose between laying workers off or closing their doors, and they’ll hit union members and their families particularly hard.
As a recently retired Boilermaker, I’m relying on my union pension to see my wife and me through our golden years. But pensions don’t survive unless they can recharge these funds with current contributions from current work. Many Boilermakers work at power plants that the CPP will force out of business; that, in turn, means that there will be fewer Boilermakers paying into our union pension fund, raising serious questions about its long-term solvency.
Those who support the Clean Power Plan refuse to acknowledge the good-paying, sustainable middle class jobs that their policies are destroying. They also conventionally gloss over the lack of reliability inherent in renewable generation today. Coal-fired power plants are dependable no matter the conditions, and our economy runs on certainty.
Our elected officials see the costs, the problems coming with the CPP, and the massive job losses we are facing, but they continue to barter away our livelihoods for a feel-good notion that America must bear the financial brunt of global carbon reduction policies no matter the cost.
Elected officials have the opportunity to prove they support American jobs by withdrawing or substantially overhauling the Clean Power Plan, and replacing it with policies that will keep electricity affordable and protect all workers and retirees. Sensible solutions to global carbon reduction are available. But all parties must first find common ground on a real global solution that doesn’t cripple the American economy.