UPDATED: Obama Administration Announces New EPA Regulations, Walker Concerned about Impact on Jobs

Coal-Dependent Wisconsin Could be Hit Hard

MacIver News Service | June 2, 2014

[Washington, D.C.] The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new plan to combat global warming on Monday by implementing new regulations that will require fossil fuel power plants to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent.

The EPA’s announcement came at the direction of President Barack Obama and his administration. According to the 645-page plan, carbon emissions would have to be reduced 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

Each state is required to propose a plan to the EPA by June 30, 2016, but that date could be moved back to as late as 2018 if a state meets certain requirements. If a plan is not submitted by the due date, the EPA would create its own set of regulations that would be imposed on the state.

“Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life. EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut harmful carbon pollution from our largest source–power plants,” Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator, said in a statement.

McCarthy claimed the plan would “spur innovation and create jobs,” but some are skeptical of the plan.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), the state’s largest business trade association, is concerned that the new proposal will lead to job losses and higher costs for electricity.

“The EPA’s new global warming rule will have a devastating impact on Wisconsin manufacturing jobs,” Scott Manley, Vice President of Government Relations for WMC told the MacIver Institute. “The rule’s higher electric costs are anticipated to result in the loss of 31,700 family-supporting manufacturing jobs each year in the five-state region including Wisconsin. It’s a middle class job killer.”

Manley is referring to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce report that shows the central regions of the country would be hit hardest by the new EPA regulations. The five-state region that includes Wisconsin stands to lose an average of $7.4 billion in potential GDP according to the study.

A separate report released in March from the Heritage Foundation explained that regulations on coal power plants, which the EPA targeted with its proposal, could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Wisconsin would be the hardest hit state per capita and is estimated to lose nearly 12,000 jobs according to the report.

Gov. Scott Walker’s Press Secretary Laurel Patrick told the MacIver Institute that he is also concerned about the proposal’s impact on jobs in the state.

“With that in mind, he will direct the Department of Natural Resources to review the EPA’s proposed rule and determine how best for Wisconsin to move forward with preserving our clean air, clean land, and clean water without hindering job creation in our state,” Patrick said in an email.

The EPA will hold four public hearings on the new proposal later this summer in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. The regulations will be finalized by next June, giving states another year to formulate how they will further regulate the coal industry.

By using his executive authority, Obama sidestepped congress to push through these new energy regulations. However, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have already announced plans to stop the EPA’s plan.

“There is a right way and a wrong way of doing things, and the Obama Administration has got it wrong once again,” U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia) said in a statement. Rahall announced he will work with U.S. Rep. David McKinley (R-West Virginia) to introduce legislation that would terminate the new EPA rules.

The full 645-page EPA plan is available here.