Plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions

President Obama’s plan to cut the pollution discharged by America’s power plants will affect the entire nation.

Obama’s declaration calls for a 30 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions, by the year 2030 from 2005 levels.

That’s a good first step for cleaner air, though environmental experts say it would generate only modest progress worldwide.

That modest progress will come at a steep price. The Environmental Protection Agency says the effort would cost up to $8.8 billion annually in 2030. By then, though, the next administration will be in office.

That money is not going to fall out of the sky. You already know who’s going to pick up the tab.

Some say America is ready for it.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, 70 percent of all Americans say the federal government should limit greenhouse gases from power plants.

You have to wonder if electric bill increases were mentioned when they took the survey.

Nathan Conrad, spokesman for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, the agency which regulates the state’s utilities, cautioned that the plan could end up costing ratepayers down the line.

And Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state chamber of commerce, warned that the rule is “likely to inflict dramatic and irreversible harm to our economy” by hurting jobs that rely upon affordable and reliable energy.

The same warning was issued in Michigan.

Jason Geer, energy and environmental policy director for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said there was “no question” the rule would cost jobs and boost energy costs but said much depends on how much flexibility EPA grants states for implementation.

Locally, U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, has urged the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to rethink proposed rules for the New Source Performance Standard for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal-based power plants.

“When regulators in Washington make these types of proposals, they never seem to take into account the damaging effects they will have on local job providers and citizens,” Benishek said. “As a doctor who ran my own medical practice for nearly 30 years, I want Washington bureaucrats to understand that when they issue these type of regulations, real, hard-working northern Michigan families are impacted. This job-killing mentality in Washington needs to end.”

“It is costing American families money and making for a less secure future in energy production,” said Dr. Benishek, a general surgeon and Iron River native.

But Keith Reopelle, a senior policy director for the environmental group Clean Wisconsin, called the warnings “irresponsible.”

He said electricity rates generally rise over time anyway, and not just because the government has imposed new regulations.

Reopelle even said rates could conceivably come down as power plants invest more in energy efficiency and renewable sources of fuel.

We won’t be holding our breath on that one.