Without consulting Congress and without bipartisan support, President Obama has made it all but impossible for America – the Saudi Arabia of coal – to lower energy costs by building new coal-fired power plants. Remember, on the campaign trail, then-Senator Obama said under his energy plan, “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”
Congress disagreed with that plan, but he did it anyway. Coal remains one of the cheapest source of electricity in the United States, and it now faces an uncertain future. If the Clean Air Act is applied as the law states, these new restrictions would apply to existing power plants and even churches, hospitals and schools. According to The Heritage Foundation, these regulations would cause electricity prices to soar, destroying 800,000 jobs and cause some industries to see job losses in excess of 50 percent.
In yet another attempt to alleviate public angst, EPA chief Lisa Jackson promised, “We have no plans to address existing plants and in the future if we were to propose a standard, it would be informed by an extensive public process with all the stakeholders involved.”
No plans? The Obama administration changes its plans all the time. Individual mandate? No to Yes. Close Guantanamo? Yes to No. Raise taxes during a bad economy? No to Yes. End the Export-Import Bank? Yes to No.
But more to the point, we know that additional regulations are coming. A prominent environmentalist observed, “the Clean Air Act requires EPA to follow up with requirements for those sources too. The proposal acknowledges this responsibility.” Indeed, the environmentalist went on to state that they “look forward” to working with the EPA to develop “standards for existing sources.”
In other words, regulations on churches and schools are coming. That is why, when pressed by Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) on whether additional regulations are forthcoming, an EPA official deflected the question…repeatedly.
Presidents have vast leeway on foreign policy and on domestic policy, as we have seen. From missile defense and energy prices to the implementation of Obamacare, there is a lot President Obama can do without the nasty constraints imposed by accountability and democracy. Regardless of party, it should concern us all that President Obama has shown himself to be a flexible flip-flopper.