As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moves forward with its plan to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, Americans deserve answers to two questions: who really drafted these regulations, and who will be hurt by them?
The EPA claims the regulations were drafted for the benefit of all Americans. The evidence, however, points to regulations that were drafted by wealthy climate activists and special interest groups without regard for the impact on American families.
One of the most glaring examples of this is the role of billionaire Tom Steyer. Steyer is a former hedge fund manager whose fortune was accumulated in part due to investments in fossil fuel projects. He has since pledged to divest himself from these investments and fight the fossil fuel industry. These days, he is best known for his pledge to spend up to $100 million dollars during this election cycle to help Democrats committed to advancing his climate change agenda.
Recently, Steyer hired Daniel Lashof to become the chief operating officer of his “super PAC,” NextGen Climate. Prior to that, Lashof was a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and one of the architects of the group’s climate proposal. In a recent New York Times report, the EPA was found to have used that NRDC proposal as the basis for its own greenhouse gas regulations.
Americans should be concerned with who is influencing the EPA’s decisions because it is evident that these special interest groups care little about the pocketbook issues facing most Americans. Taking coal out of our nation’s energy portfolio will increase electricity costs and hurt families on a budget. This year, families earning less than $30,000 annually are expected to pay an average of 26 percent of their income on energy costs. Higher electricity bills will leave these families with even less money for basic necessities like food and housing.
Instead of listening or addressing these concerns, many elites prefer to mock them. Addressing a crowd in Aspen, Colorado, Steyer recently insinuated that everyday Americans, “99.5 percent of the people,” simply cannot comprehend climate change while “super-sophisticated people,” are working to address the issue. Steyer’s remarks demonstrate how one-sided the environmental community believes this issue is and how grossly out-of-touch they are with the reality facing American workers who deserve to be equal stakeholders in this debate.
Unfortunately, the families and businesses put at greatest risk by the EPA’s proposal are also those who were neglected from EPA’s formulation of the plan and, more recently, left out of EPA’s public hearings. Many groups that advocate for consumers were excluded from EPA’s hearings on the greenhouse gas rules. Only four of these hearings were held nationwide and none took place in states like Kentucky, Wyoming or West Virginia, where coal is directly tied to the states’ economies. These public hearings were seemingly nothing more than a formality to the EPA, which consistently turns a deaf ear to opposing voices while gladly listening to likeminded viewpoints trumpeted by Mr. Steyer and the NRDC.
Not satisfied with just imposing his anti-coal agenda on the United States, the president now is pushing it out globally. This was most recently demonstrated by his $300 million pledge to bring electrification to Sub-Saharan Africa. While the president’s goal is admirable, his plan specifically excludes any funding for coal projects, thwarting this good-willed initiative from achieving any meaningful results. Jim Yong Kim, president of World Bank, stated that Africa needs to rely on traditional resources like coal to power growth. These pleas are being ignored. Instead, the Administration pursues actions that please their activist base.
EPA’s proposed regulations have one principal aim: to eradicate America’s and the world’s use of abundant, low-cost and reliable coal. Doing so will hurt people here at home and across the globe, but the Administration isn’t listening to – or understanding — the consequences. Our leaders should be supporting energy policies that benefit all citizens. Instead, they’re indulging the pet causes of wealthy ideologues, at the expense of American consumers and businesses.