White House regulating problems that don’t exist

Seven years ago, the BBC reported that summer ice in the Arctic would completely disappear by 2013. Bold predictions like this are the norm in the climate change community and are widely reported on by the mainstream media.

But in August, new reports were released demonstrating that Arctic ice levels — far from disappearing — had surged 60 percent just over the last year. Many ships that expected to cross the Northwest Passage this summer found it impossible due to ice.

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Unfortunately, when nature shames scientists, it barely makes a blip on the media’s radar much less on that of the Obama administration. As reports such as this roll out, the Environmental Protection Agency continues to forge ahead with the president’s new climate change regulations.

The first batch of rules announced  Sept. 13 affect newly and future constructed power plants, and would make it nearly impossible for Americans to economically rely on their most abundant resource for electricity — coal. To make matters worse, even natural gas, an energy resource praised by the president, would find it difficult meeting the new standards.

The rules require private businesses to use costly emission control technologies that have never before been commercially deployed without massive taxpayer subsidies. This maneuver flies in the face of the Clean Air Act, which was never designed to regulate greenhouse gases.

The science behind climate change is uncertain, but the cost of the president’s regulations is not. Every time we have debated climate change legislation in Congress, reliable studies have pegged the legislation’s cost at $300 billion to $400 billion per year. Because the president has chosen the path of unilaterally controlling greenhouse gas emissions through regulation, the cost could be far higher. Regardless, the rules will produce the same lackluster results.

Action by the United States alone to reduce greenhouse gases will not move the needle on climate change. Lisa Jackson, the president’s first EPA administrator made this point clearly before Congress in July 2009. Her successor, Gina McCarthy, also testified in September of this year that no single action on greenhouse gases was likely have any observable impact on climate change.

All the while, the Obama administration is crippling America’s future economic growth with these regulations while our economic competitors forge ahead at making energy prices predictable, cheap and attractive for doing business.

To make matters worse, the EPA has established a culture of overregulation that is making our economy less competitive on the global landscape. NERA Economic Consulting recently estimated that just six of the EPA’s recent rules would annually drain up to $630 billion of economic activity and eliminate 9 million jobs. If those jobs disappeared today, the unemployment rate would rise to 13 percent. Add the greenhouse gas regulations into the mix, and it is no wonder American businesses are delaying projects at home and moving others overseas.

Americans don’t want to regulate problems that don’t exist — they want the government to get out of their way. Talk may be cheap, but when government is talking about more regulations, businesses listen. With rising labor costs abroad, now is our opportunity to lure back American businesses with a strong energy sector. Unfortunately, with the way things are going now, innovators are quietly delaying or relocating projects, prematurely ending a chapter in American history that could have ended with economic resurgence.  

Inhofe is the senior senator from Oklahoma, serving since 1995. He is the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee, and also sits on the Environment and Public Works Committee.