Weekly Columns

SEC football is in full swing. While we may be frustrated with the outcome of the big game, the three letters causing the biggest concern for people in Arkansas are EPA. 

The EPA carbon emissions mandates target Arkansas for cuts stricter than 44 other states.  These mandates will drive up the price of electricity, send jobs overseas, and lead to the construction of foreign factories in places like China, which will emit far more carbon dioxide and pollution into the global atmosphere.  

The President’s plan will impact the daily lives of residents of our state - hitting hardworking families, seniors and those struggling to make ends meet the hardest.  That’s why I oppose this plan and am working to prevent its implementation. 

There has been widespread discussion among community leaders, manufacturers, and energy providers about this heavy-handed rule. Earlier this month I spoke with members of the Arkansas State Chamber, many of whom are deeply concerned about these EPA mandates and the impact in our state. Arkansas has five coal power plants, including some of the newest and most modern facilities in the country. These coal plants provide more than half of our electricity. Our utilities are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make these plants some of cleanest coal plants in the world, but these mandates drive up the costs even further.  

52 other Senators and I are urging the EPA to provide an opportunity for citizens to share their concerns through an extended public comment period. I will also fight for a vote on this proposal. In time, the courts will probably be asked to review these EPA mandates, which extend far beyond the legal authority of the agency. 

These mandates that we are fighting are all pain and no gain. Emissions in the U.S. are falling without these rules. While climate activists claim this proposal will have huge benefits, developing countries are increasing their emissions. Our competitors won’t follow these standards, and American workers will feel the pain as a result. Acting alone will cost us jobs, opportunity, and really hit pocketbooks hard; but unilateral action will not have a substantial impact on the climate. 

My colleague, Senator Barrasso of Wyoming, has noted that even if you accept the President’s claims, "the whole [climate] plan hinges on President Obama's foreign policy prowess."  The President believes he can persuade developing countries to set-back their own economies and significantly reduce emissions. However, the international community sees a President who makes commitments that he can’t or won’t follow-through on. After losing so much credibility, the President is making plans to go to next year’s U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, but without a strategy to persuade developing countries to make a meaningful and verifiable commitment to cutting their own emissions. 

I support using our natural resources in all-of-the-above energy mix that includes renewables such as solar, wind, hydropower, and biomass along with reliable sources like coal, nuclear, and natural gas. Arkansans deserve a more reasonable energy plan, and I will support policies that protect our environment without driving up the electric bill for Arkansas families.