Last summer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed new regulations on existing power plants to reduce carbon emissions. If these regulations are implemented, S.C. consumers could face a 13 percent increase in their energy bills. That’s a price tag many consumers and businesses can ill afford.
In South Carolina, the regulations assume that the nuclear power plants under construction are already in place; therefore, if left unchanged, we would essentially get no credit for this substantive investment.
Attorney General Alan Wilson, thankfully, understands the economic impacts these regulations will have on South Carolina and has joined 14 other states in a lawsuit to stop the EPA’s plan.
In an unprecedented move, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington heard oral arguments on April 16 with the proposed regulations still in process. Normally, the court would not hear a case like this until after regulations are made final. The court made this decision because Attorney General Wilson and others point out that the proposal already is causing economic damage to the states.
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At a time when our state’s economy is gradually improving, we shouldn’t allow government overreach to hinder progress. The EPA’s plan will not only cause price spikes but also significantly jeopardize the reliability of South Carolina’s electric grid by requiring a wholesale restructuring of how power is produced. The costs associated with these changes will force businesses to choose between keeping the lights on and hiring a new employee, or even potentially laying off employees.
The EPA assumes new natural gas generation can safely be ramped up, that nuclear, solar and wind power will increase and that American citizens and businesses will invest in new technologies to reduce energy consumption.
The future stability of our state’s electric grid needs to be based on sound modeling and cost impact assessments, not assumptions that can reap dangerous consequences to our access to affordable, reliable electricity.
Attorney General Wilson has demonstrated incredible leadership by standing up to the EPA, but the battle is only beginning to heat up.
I hope the D.C. circuit court will stop this unjustified overreach before the regulations are made final. If not, then we must rely on our state’s elected officials and business community to join with Attorney General Wilson to continue advocating for balanced energy policies that will foster economic security and growth.
Chairman, S.C. Chamber of Commerce