EPA’s Mindless Regulations
July 9, 2013 by nancy_barto
“Regardless of how one feels about the EPA, there is nothing logical about requiring Arizona residents to pay a billion dollars for regulations that make virtually NO improvement in visibility and have NOTHING to do with public health,” Senator Gail Griffin reacting to a presentation on EPA regulations facing Arizona earlier this year at a joint committee hearing.
The regulations in question stem from the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act, which requires states to formulate ‘State Implementation Plans’ (SIP) to improve visibility at ‘Class-1’ federal areas such as national parks. The regulations do not address public health.
In July of last year, the EPA rejected Arizona’s plan to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) and, in an unusual and legally questionable move, required Arizona to discard its plan in favor of an EPA-drafted Federal Implementation Plan.
Under the EPA plan, Arizona utilities, including Arizona Public Service (APS), Salt River Project (SRP), and Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO) would have to spend as much as $1 billion to retrofit three coal-burning power plants in some of the most economically challenged regions of the state. The scale of those costs present Arizona utilities with a stark choice—comply with the EPA rules and pass along the costs to Arizona residents and businesses through higher electricity rates, or close units at the generation facilities, costing rural Arizona hundreds of jobs.
In testimony before the Senate Gov. & Environment Committee this session, Arizona lawmakers learned of the costs:
- To Ratepayers: Patrick Ledger, CEO of the Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, testified that the EPA plan would require his utility to increase costs by roughly 17% to 30%. “These regulations would double AEPCO’s total debt, and would have a significant impact on our ratepayers,” Ledger testified.
- To health care providers: Roland Knox, CEO of the Northern Cochise Community Hospital in Wilcox testified that a substantial increase in the cost of electricity would impact his hospital’s ability to provide affordable health care to local residents.
- To AZ’s economic competitiveness: Gretchen Conger of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry testified that “Higher electricity rates will deter companies from moving to Arizona,” Conger explained. “If the EPA moves forward, it will stall, if not stop, Arizona’s economic recovery.”
- To Union Jobs: Mike Verbout of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 570 testified that roughly 100 of his members work for utilities that would be impacted by the EPA’s plan. “There’s a lot to be lost. This affects the hospital, it affects the school, and it affects the employees. Verbout continued, “If the Apache Generating Station were to close, my workers would have a very difficult time finding jobs in the same region.”
- To Tribal Members: The Director of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, Stephen Etsitty, told committee members, “We’re very concerned with how these decisions are being made.” Director Etsitty pointed out that there are hundreds of Tribal members who work for the mines that provide coal to the plants in question. “There is also a core of workers employed at the plants,” who would be affected if the EPA plan is implemented.
- To Families: A video presentation from AEPCO presented to the committee featured a number of families whose fixed incomes and rising medical costs would make it difficult to afford higher electricity costs under the EPA plan. One of those featured, Apolonia Garcia, explained that her prescription drug costs are $400 per month, and that any increase in electricity rates would impact her ability to buy food.
- SCR 1012 - Senate Resolution in support of the State, rather than the Federal Implementation Plan to Reduce Regional Haze. Despite ’across-the-board’ opposition to the regulations, incredibly the resolution passed along party lines - and it was only a resolution!!
- I signed onto a letter Sen. President Andy Biggs sent to federal EPA overseers in May requesting additional public comment.
One doesn’t have to look too hard to realize the administration isn’t after energy policies that make sense. They’re after an agenda and traditional energy sources simply do not fit the profile. Will Americans standing up make a difference?
For further info please read EPA’s Assault on State Sovereignty (pt. II)