Getting Hit by a MACT Truck

Ronald Reagan once said that government’s approach to business can be summarized as: If it moves, tax it; if it keeps moving, regulate it; if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal disagrees with those who say the Obama Administration doesn’t have an energy policy. It’s just that the president’s energy policy is secondary to a radical environmental agenda.

These two impulses – a radical environmental agenda and a willingness to regulate businesses to achieve it – have come together in a matter before the U.S. Senate this week.

The issue is an Environmental Protection Agency regulation known as Utility MACT. Ostensibly the regulation’s purpose is to limit pollution from power plants – who’s against clean air, right? – but its real target is the coal industry. It’s another battle in the left’s War on Carbon. Oh, to live in a world in which everyone rides their bikes to our green jobs designing wind turbines and solar panels!

New Hampshire’s not a coal-producing state, and our local economy is less driven by the energy-gobbling manufacturing sector than other states. So why should you care?

Because excessive regulation kills jobs, weakens the overall economy, and drives up costs for consumers. We all consume energy, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch. When burdens are placed on one part of the energy industry, we all end up paying for them, one way or another.

The key concept in weighing any environmental regulation is balance. We need jobs, we need energy, and we value a clean environment.

The trouble with energy regulations applied in one country is they don’t apply globally. The advent of cheap, abundant natural gas due to fracking technology has put U.S. coal at a serious competitive disadvantage in the U.S. in terms of price. But the coal isn’t piling up at the mines. It’s being put on cargo ships and sent to developing countries, where it’s safe to say it is being used in more environmentally harmful ways than it would be if burned domestically to fuel our economy instead of that of our competitors.

The Utility MACT will drive up costs for all of us and burden our economy without achieving its stated goals. The Senate should say no to the Utility MACT.

fergus@ferguscullen.com

Author: Fergus Cullen

Fergus Cullen is a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party (2007-2008) and an editorial page columnist for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

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