While Obama was pivoting around House and Senate Republicans with the end-of-year politics surrounding the payroll tax cut, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was issuing the Utility MACT Rule – the most expensive regulation ever issued by the agency. According to the EPA, this rule will cost utilities almost $10 billion a year. Which is why it can’t help but cause substantially higher electricity prices for consumers.
The Utility MACT Rule and another new Obama Administration regulation, the Cross State Air Rule, both of which target coal-fired utilities, are estimated to result in up to double-digit utility rate increases and a loss of 1.4 million job-years by 2020.
Electricity price increases are being reported nationwide as a result of the EPA's actions. In North Carolina, Duke Energy is seeking rate increases of 14 and 17 percent for households and businesses respectively, in Louisiana rates may go up 25 percent and in Chicago the rates may spike up to 60 percent.
Refusing to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and the creation of an estimated associated 20,000 jobs (with the additional benefit of increasing our oil supplies from Canada at a time when Iran is rattling its saber) is but one example of the destructive nature of Obama’s energy policy.
In contrast, Congressional Republicans have consistently fought EPA’s overreach and, accordingly, have been on the right side of economic prosperity and the interests of lower and middle class citizens.
In addition to pushing for the construction of the Keystone pipeline, House Republicans, in a bipartisan effort, passed the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act of 2011 to slow down the EPA’s assault on our economy and coal-fired utilities.
In the Senate, Rand Paul (R-KY) led an unsuccessful effort to use the Congressional Review Act to stop the Cross State Air Rule. Senator Paul’s effort to stop the Cross State Air Rule was vindicated, as a federal court recently blocked the rule and its outcome will be determined later this year.
This presents reform-minded Republicans with an opportunity. If they attach a reform proposal, such as the TRAIN Act, to a high-profile issue such as the upcoming debate over the extension of the payroll tax cut, they can educate the voters in these states about the impact of Obama’s energy policies on their wallets.
Debating the pros and cons of the TRAIN Act would expose Obama’s role in driving electricity prices higher and apply pressure to Congressional Democrats to support pro-energy, lower-price reforms.
If Congressional Democrats recognize Obama’s attack on Congress provides meaningless benefits for their constituents while the President’s war on fossil fuels threatens their political future, they may resist being thrown under the President’s bus. After all, Democrats are part of Congress and, in fact, they control the Senate.
Given the political risk facing some Senate Democrats and Obama’s eagerness to run against Congress, Republicans might find some surprising support to stop Obama’s assault on fossil fuels.