(Morning Consult, April 29) – Rising energy costs are among the new economic challenges facing millions of families across the country, according to an updated analysis commissioned by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.
“State Energy Costs for Families” uses data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration to assess the impacts of energy costs on American households in 31 states. The report exposes an unsettling reality: America’s poorest and most vulnerable families are devastatingly impacted by higher energy prices, such as those enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency’s policies.
EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, if implemented, will result in double digit electricity rate increases in 43 states – increases that few can afford. Minorities and seniors are especially vulnerable to these dangers, as they make up a large percentage of lower-income households.
The “State Energy Costs for Families” study also finds that real family incomes have declined since 2001. Declining family incomes magnify the effects of higher energy prices on lower-income and middle-income households, forcing families to choose between keeping the lights on and other basic necessities like food and health care.
EPA has turned a blind eye to these realities and continues demonstrating indifference toward communities that will by hardest hit by its misguided energy policy. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy showcased her apathy earlier this month when she outlandishly categorized the Clean Power Plan as an issue “not hot outside Washington, D.C.”
In fact, EPA’s plan is drawing fire outside the beltway from elected officials and regulators in 32 states, all underscoring the significant threats the proposal presents to consumers including higher electricity rates and weakened grid reliability. Governors and attorneys general in 28 states have called for the outright withdrawal of EPA’s proposal.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have also noted EPA’s disregard toward economic concerns and are rightfully unveiling the costs of its proposal. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power recently held a hearing discussing the economic consequences of EPA’s proposed rule and included witness Eugene Trisko, economist and author of the “State Energy Costs for Families” study. In his testimony, Mr. Trisko highlighted the inevitability of increased energy costs under EPA’s proposal and its disproportionate impact on our most financially vulnerable families.
The facts speak for themselves. Energy costs are going up and America’s most vulnerable households will be disproportionately impacted. By ignoring the valid cost concerns being raised by regulators, lawmakers and elected officials across the country, EPA is leading our nation down a path we simply cannot afford.
Laura Sheehan is a senior vice president at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.