Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt did a big favor for Indiana on Tuesday (Oct. 10) with the repeal of the Clean Power Plan. This decision will spare Indiana from a massive regulation that would have weakened our power grid, increased electric bills and cost good-paying Hoosier jobs.
The CPP, established during the Obama administration, was promoted as a way to reduce emissions said to contribute to global warming. But the reality was that the CPP would have forced many coal-fired power plants into retirement – power plants that provide more than 70 percent of Indiana’s electricity. And those retirements wouldn’t have delivered any significant environmental benefits – per the EPA itself.
That “retirement plan” was a lose-lose situation for Indiana – because fewer coal-fired power plants means less grid reliability. The end result would have been an electric grid precariously dependent on limited fuel options, forcing Indiana to become reliant on out-of-state-natural gas or intermittent wind and solar energy that can’t be depended on around the clock.
The CPP was based on wishful thinking that renewable power would fill the gap left in the wake of massive coal-fired power plant closings. Despite the growth in wind and solar energy, they still supply only 7 percent of the power Americans use – and you can’t always transport in renewable power from sunny and windy regions outside of Indiana.
Worse, the CPP would have raised electricity costs – a fact the U.S. Supreme Court honed in on when it stayed the regulation. Some economists concluded that new infrastructure to replace the retired coal-fired power plants would have cost $64 billion – which is in addition to rising wholesale electricity costs that utilities would eventually pass on to customers. And those customers are Hoosier households and industry – including manufacturing.
And then there was the impact to jobs. In Indiana, the impact estimates started at 22,000 jobs that rely on coal. The loss of these high-wage jobs would have been especially damaging to local communities that rely on income and sales-tax revenue for everything from road infrastructure to education.
Environmental activists will hammer Pruitt for rolling back this particular climate-change action. But the EPA’s own predicted yet meager .018 Fahrenheit reduction in global temperature would have been so minuscule that the cost to our economy would have far, far outweighed the benefit. In the end, the Clean Power Plan would have been nothing more than the Costly Power Plan – and Hoosiers deserve better.