Weekly Columns

Arkansans depend on our reliable and affordable energy and electricity. Low-cost energy helps new businesses get started in Arkansas, keeps our farmers competitive, and ensures Arkansans can heat, cool and power their homes at a reasonable cost.

That is all set to change if the Obama Administration has its way.

The EPA's so-called “Clean Power Plan” makes Arkansas families vulnerable to high-cost energy, electricity blackouts, and job cuts. The Administration, while turning a blind eye to these realities, has taken to manipulating its existing air regulations to enact policy that Congress would reject.

This yet another example of the Obama Administration bypassing Congress and the American people to unilaterally mandate policy that the President failed to get passed legislatively. Heavy-handed carbon rules will have very negative effects on our country, without providing any significant environmental benefits. That’s why Congress has rejected this move time and time again—even when the President’s allies had control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Unnecessary EPA mandates smother economic growth by driving up costs for individuals and job creators. Our manufacturers, family farms, and small businesses want to grow their operations and hire new employees, but the EPA is raise their costs and sapping resources that could otherwise grow new opportunities in Arkansas. These EPA rules will drive industry overseas, hurting American workers and creating foreign factories that emit far more than we would.

Every Arkansan will see higher energy costs as a result of this plan. That pain falls hardest on low-income families and seniors living on a fixed-income who will be forced to pay more for electricity and many other essential needs. Most Arkansans can’t afford to open their energy bill and find it has skyrocketed, but for our seniors and single mothers living on a fixed income, it could force them to have to choose between heating their homes or putting food on the table.

That’s why we are committed to fighting this mandate in Congress. I suspect it will face strong legal challenges in the courts as well. The Clean Air Act was enacted to protect the public from harmful pollution. It was not intended to address climate change, especially at a time when our competitors overseas are doing almost nothing to reduce their emissions. 

The Senate has an alternative plan, introduced by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), that I am cosponsoring. Our bill, the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act (ARENA), will ensure reliable and low-cost energy, put jobs and our economy first and curbs federal overreach. The Environment and Public Works Committee, on which I serve, recently cleared this bill, and we are working to build more support.

Many Arkansans support smart, commonsense protection of the environment. That’s why we support natural gas production and use, hydropower efficiency, renewable biomass, clean coal technology, emissions-free nuclear, improved renewable technologies, and other innovations. Our focus should continue to be the deployment of new technologies, innovation, efficiency, and conservation to further reduce emissions. These positive developments will continue, with or without the EPA. That’s a real “clean power plan."