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Weekly Column: Obama’s Clean Power Plan is Fundamentally Flawed

Earlier this summer, President Obama announced his so-called “Clean Power Plan” final rule, which requires states to cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly a third within 15 years. This sweeping new mandate requires states to completely rework their electric grid and dramatically reduce the amount of electricity they get from coal-fired plants. The result of which will be higher electricity rates for every single household and business in the country. Additionally, energy production will be reduced, bringing further uncertainty to the electric grid. All of this comes with very little benefit to the environment.

In South Dakota, we have scorching hot summers and freezing cold winters. We rely on dependable energy to protect us from our extreme weather conditions. Yet the clean power rule could jeopardize our current system. All of this is being done with no input from Congress. It is another example in which American families are being forced to suffer the consequences of the President’s overreaching, over-burdensome environmental agenda without any input or recourse for policies with which they disagree. 

Since the President announced the final rule, South Dakota joined 14 other states in a petition to the D.C. Court of Appeals to block the egregious plan. In the appeal, the states ask the court to issue a ruling in the matter before September 8, 2015, one year before they are required to submit plans to EPA for how they will reduce emissions as required by the Clean Power Plan. Additionally, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley has joined a lawsuit challenging the rule. It is one of a number of suits that challenge whether the EPA exceeded its powers when issuing the final rule to cut power-plant carbon emissions.

In the Senate, the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), of which I am a member, recently passed the bipartisan Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act (ARENA), which is the principal legislative vehicle to roll back the Clean Power Plan rule. Our legislation is a common sense solution that gives states additional time and flexibility to comply with these new rules. It also protects hard-working American families from bearing the brunt of the Clean Power Plan through higher electricity rates.

ARENA requires the EPA to submit a report to Congress describing the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions the Clean Power Plan is actually expected to reduce, and to conduct modeling to show the impacts of the rule on the climate indicators used to develop the final rule. As an original cosponsor of ARENA, I’m committed to working with my colleagues to put a stop to this costly carbon emissions rule.


The Obama administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been solely focused on cementing the President’s legacy as a champion of the environment. I, too, believe that we have an obligation to protect our natural resources for future generations. But it must not be at the expense of our economy, jobs and the current electric grid. It is another example of an Administration stretching the limits of the law to issue costly new regulations at the expense of American growth and innovation. It underscores the need for a bipartisan approach to address executive overreach - such as my RESTORE resolution to reinforce Congressional oversight as part of the rulemaking process. I will continue to work to protect taxpayers from this and other costly rules.