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COMMUNITY VOICE

Letters to the editor: EPA’s new emission rules unwarranted

Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 12:01 am

While we Hoosiers have gone about our lives this summer, with most of us enjoying affordable electricity to run our air conditioners, watch televisions and heat our water, few of us have been aware of the storm that’s approaching. Winds of change are about to sweep across the United States, and Indiana will be hit hard across the board. But the low-income families in our communities will be the hardest hit of all.

The Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of setting new emissions rules for electric power plants. Congress has not authorized these rules, but the EPA is moving ahead to impose them without legislative authority.

These new EPA rules regulating greenhouse gases require use of a coal technology that does not exist yet. For electric power companies to meet these new standards and continue to provide Hoosiers with electricity to power homes, businesses, local governments, hospitals and schools, they will need to turn away from coal and use natural gas.

And while this may seem like a green dream, the factual reality will wake us all up eventually.

Fact: Indiana only annually produces enough natural gas and oil to fuel the state’s entire energy needs for one day. And there are not enough pipelines across the state to move what little natural gas we do have to power electric-generating plants. Additionally, natural gas prices have historically been the most volatile of all fossil fuels. In a letter to President Obama in June, Gov. Pence made it explicitly clear that these new rules will “decimate coal” as an energy option for Indiana and “put natural gas in a precarious position.”

Fact: The cost to implement the full gamut of the EPA’s regulations will be paid for by all of us. According to energy economist experts, we can anticipate at least a 40 percent rise in our energy bills.

Fact: More than half of Indiana’s households already spend 21 percent of their after-tax income on energy bills. The situation is worse for the poorest among us, those with households earning less than $10,000 per year. They spend 73 percent of their income on energy bills.

Fact: The next tier of hardship will be on all taxpayers. Local governments are already reporting budget shortfalls, and increasing energy costs by 40 percent to run those governments, in addition to finding more money in the budget to assist the poor with their energy bills, creates a very real possibility of local tax increases. These facts add up to a poor prediction. And as the EPA reported in its April 2012 Federal Register notice, the agency “does not anticipate that this proposed rule will result in notable carbon-dioxide emission changes.”

As Hoosiers, we should be asking ourselves: Is a manufactured energy crisis the path for Indiana? If the answer is no, I urge you to tell your elected officials, and oppose these unnecessary regulations that are detrimental to our Hoosier way of life.

Jonathan Shearer, Allen County