Emissions Goal Straps Unfair Burden on Arkansas

On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its newest and worst-kept secret proposal in its fight to reduce carbon dioxide emissions nationwide. In a lengthy 645-page document, EPA advocated the U.S. reduce its carbon footprint 30 percent by 2030 with the agency planning to unveil its final ruling one year later and states facing compliance starting June 2016.

The proposal takes a heavy-handed swat at U.S. coal-fired power plants, which supply just more than half of Arkansas’ electricity. It requires all five of Arkansas’ coal plants — two of which reside in the First District — to reduce carbon dioxide per megawatt hour emissions more than 55 percent by 2030.

Naturally, Arkansas’ energy providers have expressed concerns about meeting EPA’s demands economically. Consumers have also shown their reservations about potentially much-higher energy bills. Even environmentalists now state the proposal places a greater burden on Arkansas than other states with greater access to alternate energy sources such as nuclear, wind, and hydroelectric.

The logical choice to replace coal looks at natural gas, a vital source used in Arkansas’ energy mix. Natural gas burns more cleanly than coal, and Arkansas has an abundant supply. But the gas has drawbacks, too; none more evident than this past winter when energy usage spiked. As temperatures plunged into single digits, the state saw gas plant failures, pipeline freezes, and natural gas supply chain disruptions; not to mention sharply higher energy costs for consumers.

Just mere months after these problems, EPA issues its ruling, claiming the nation is ready to write coal in the annals of history.

I believe the agency’s proposal highlights an important point: EPA is out of touch with the rest of the U.S.

The agency regularly utilizes a winner-take-all mentality in its environmental proposals, rarely stopping to consider the economic impacts forced upon citizens standing in its way. Many of EPA’s actions have proven nothing short of rogue, imposing harsh requirements that states struggle to meet.

More than 500,000 Arkansas homes, farms, and businesses rely upon coal as a form of electricity, and I’m concerned that rural America will feel the greatest brunt from the agency’s decision. In the meantime, I will work closely with Arkansas’ electric co-ops and energy providers to glean more information on the rule and its impacts on Arkansas rate payers. I also encourage First District residents to visit epa.gov and offer their comments on how the decision will affect our local communities.

Together, we can help keep a reliable source of affordable energy within Arkansas and make sure our state doesn’t shoulder an unfair burden from these regulations.

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