At least since the beginning of the millennium, the assaults by the federal government on freedom and opportunity are relentless. Multiple billion and even trillion dollar deficits, unaccountable expansions of Medicare and Medicaid, creation of new entitlements, expansive growth of federal agencies, growth of the surveillance state, the IRS’ targeting of US citizens, over-criminalization and so many other actions stalk us all.
With all of the various scandals, it’s no surprise that many may be distracted from an ever-growing assailant on all families’ budgets, the Environmental Protection Agency. During the past few months, recent court decisions have resulted in the guaranty that all will pay more for electricity, all due to the EPA’s religious devotion to reduce emissions and climate change.
For example, the US Supreme Court refused to review a case where Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company tried unsuccessfully to challenge the EPA’s plan for reducing regional haze. In keeping with President Barack Obama’s promise to make electricity rates “necessarily skyrocket,” his EPA is insisting that OGE make massive and costly capital investments installing coal scrubbers at two plants instead of allowing OGE to utilize a form of cleaner burning coal. OGE has rightly noted that these changes insisted on by the EPA will cost more than $1 billion and much of it will be borne by utility customers. Given Edmond Electric’s participation in this area, utility cost increases are coming to Oklahomans, including Edmond residents.
In another decision released this week by the Supreme Court, the court granted the EPA most of the latitude it wanted in regulating the emissions of many existing facilities. The court issued a warning, cautioning the EPA against expanding its attempts to regulate whatever the EPA deems to cause global warning but its decision will allow the EPA to practice significantly its climate change religion.
Utility costs have real impacts on family budgets. What’s sad is that the proposed changes by the EPA although ideologically driven and significantly costly to families, lack a basis in sound science and the reality that the earth is actually cooling. Previous climate change zealots and their models predicting doom and gloom have failed miserably.
But this latest assault by the EPA is a valuable lesson for Oklahoma policymakers and the electorate. Decades ago, states began taking money from the federal government, blindly implementing federal programs and mandates, thus giving up the ability for states to resist bad federal policy and force the federal government to enter states which the federal government is not sufficiently staffed, designed or positioned to do. A great example of states declining the federal government’s offer of funds to implement its bad policy is the number of states that have declined the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. This decision by states to decline the ACA’s Medicaid expansion has saved their state budgets the fiscal pressure, ballooning enrollments and pour outcomes now happening in many states which expanded Medicaid as allowed by the ACA. The greatest way to stop the wild expansion and overreach of the federal government is for state lawmakers to stop taking more federal funds for more federal programs.
It’s clear: The EPA is positioning itself as a chief assailant on the budgets of millions of families across the United States. AG Pruitt is to be commended for leading the effort to challenge the EPA whenever possible. One can only hope that other states’ attorneys general and federal lawmakers join the efforts of AG Pruitt and Oklahoma’s congressional delegation in fighting back against the EPA and its assault on family budgets and freedom.
JONATHAN SMALL, a certified public accountant, is vice president for policy at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (www.ocpathink.org), a free-market think tank. Jonathan, his wife Kristina and their four daughters live in Edmond.