Walker says EPA rule would harm Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, 49 state legislators and two state agencies have submitted letters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressing concerns over the effects of its proposed Clean Power Plan.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a state-based carbon reduction proposal to be implemented using a section of the federal Clean Air Act. The plan sets carbon reduction targets for each state, mostly based on the state’s use of coal as an energy source.

In the plan, the EPA is proposing emission guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to address greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units. Specifically, the EPA is proposing state-specific, rate-based goals for carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector, as well as guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to achieve the state-specific goals. According to the EPA, the rule would continue progress already underway to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants in the United States.

Wisconsin’s tailored mandate would mean reducing carbon emissions 34 percent by 2030, representing the 23rd-highest cut in the nation. Walker said the goal would be an especially difficult task because of Wisconsin’s heavy reliance on coal-based energy, which comprises more than 60 percent of statewide energy generation.

In his letter, Walker said the EPA proposal would have a detrimental effect on Wisconsin’s manufacturing-based economy, as well as household ratepayers.

“We have made major investments to ensure we are providing our citizens with reliable, clean, affordable power,” Walker said. “If enacted, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would be a blow to Wisconsin residents and business owners, and I join business leaders, elected officials and industry representatives in opposing this plan. I urge federal officials to carefully consider our concerns and the adverse economic impact this plan could have on our state, as well as the nation.”

According to modeling conducted by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, the current version of the proposed rule would cost the state between $3.3 billion and $13.4 billion. Walker cited a study by Energy Ventures Analysis, which estimates the average Wisconsin household would see its electricity bill increase by more than $485 in 2020.

Walker has asked the EPA to reconsider the rule based on the impact the rule will have on the cost and reliability of electricity, not only for Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector and the 455,000 people it employs, but for every ratepayer in the state and the nation.

“This rule and other pending rules from the EPA will take Wisconsin backwards,” Walker wrote.

Critics of Walker have noted his lack of support for promoting the use of alternative fuels such as energy from solar and wind sources that would reduce the state’s reliance on coal, as well as investments in mass transit systems to reduce emissions.

A separate letter signed by 49 Republican state legislators questioned the EPA’s authority to enact the new rule.

Another letter was sent to the EPA by PSC commissioner Ellen Nowak and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources secretary Cathy Stepp and chairman Phil Montgomery, also expressing concerns about the agency’s proposed plan. They were appointed to their positions by Walker.

“It is unrealistic to expect the state to submit a complete plan within EPA’s proposed timeframes,” the PSC and DNR officials said.

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