Obama's Clean Power Plan is a bad deal for America

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In 2009, President Obama turned his attention from his campaign victory to a carefully crafted legislative wish list, handed to him by liberal lobbyists and the radical base of the Democratic Party. Among their top priorities were extreme carbon-trading schemes and a war on fossil fuel.  Despite the president’s personal popularity, his policy initiatives were met with strong opposition, forcing him to enlist the help of then Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWarren’s power on the rise Nevada's Heck won't say who he's backing for president GOP groups ride to rescue in 3 key Senate races MORE (D-Nev.) and then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Democrats enjoyed sizeable majorities in the House and Senate, and the president was certain he could impose European-style cap-and-tax in America. The American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill, was the cap-and-tax legislation Obama believed would secure him international accolades and a lasting legacy. But the deeply unpopular bill did not make it through the Democrat-controlled Congress, and he went to Copenhagen empty-handed.

Six years later, as he faces the 2015 United Nations Conference on Climate Change, Obama is again seeking legislation to tout internationally. But rather than going through a collaborative process with the states and Congress, he has enlisted the help of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ram through his new cap-and-tax initiative, the Clean Power Plan (CPP.)

Under CPP, the EPA feigns flexibility with rate-based and mass-based plans. If states can completely overhaul their energy policies and submit their compliance plans to the EPA by September 6, 2016, they will receive a rate-based plan. But that leaves states with less than one year to make major changes, and if they are unable to meet deadline, the EPA will implement its unnecessary mass-based cap-and-tax plan, which will be an economic disaster for the United States.

Energy prices are guaranteed to increase under the CPP, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that the initiative will cost American taxpayers $51 billion. Taking into account our crippling $18 trillion national debt, hardworking taxpayers simply cannot afford to pay for another of Obama’s liberal pet projects.

Further, CPP will diminish America’s natural gas industry through its Clean Energy Incentive Program. The program awards early action allowances for investments in wind and solar projects, and is a deceptive way to eliminate natural gas development, even though it is abundant in the United States, produces up to 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal, and could provide millions of jobs and cleaner energy.

The United States is already a world leader on alternative energy, reduced carbon emissions, and global social responsibility. Despite the fact that the European Union implemented a cap-and-tax plan similar to Obama’s CPP in 2005, the United States reduced emissions more rapidly between 2005 and 2012. Congress rejected cap-and-tax because it is bad policy, and the president shouldn’t implement it through executive fiat.

The president is intent on reaching strict emissions agreements in Paris, and any agreement has to include equal commitments from other countries.  Considering his appalling track record on international negotiations, I’m concerned that any deal reached will punish the American economy and will not hold other countries accountable. 

Obama’s agreement with China is a template for how he’s going to negotiate in Paris.  Under his terrible agreement, China agreed to continue increasing their emissions in 2030, while the U.S. cuts emissions.  It is clear that he is going to punish the American economy and let China off the hook.

The CPP is a bad deal for America, and the president’s dogged pursuit of this weak policy is nothing more than a tireless pursuit to secure his liberal legacy through executive decision making. In these final months of his presidency, Obama should set aside his selfish ambitions and finally do what’s best for America’s future.

Sensenbrenner represents Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District and has served in the House since 1979. He sits on the Science, Space and Technology and the Judiciary committees.