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Cutting through the Green Tape


Washington D.C. (KELO AM) - If your family is anything like mine, it’s a constant struggle to find new ways to decrease the monthly electricity bill.  I can’t even begin to count how many times Bryon and I tell the kids “turn off the lights if you're not in the room” or “shut that refrigerator door!”  Last week, the President announced a new climate policy proposal that would drive monthly electricity bills through the roof, doing much more damage to our wallets than leaving the refrigerator door open while you pour a glass of milk.

The Obama administration’s proposed rule aims to reduce carbon emissions, and while that is a laudable goal, hundreds of energy production facilities would be forced to retrofit their operations with expensive new technologies - or go out of business.  Those costs would be passed down to you and me every month, making our homes much more expensive to heat, cool and just keep running on a day-to-day basis.  Not only that, but putting coal plants out of business means we have less reliable energy.

Even the President has openly admitted that our monthly bills would be dramatically impacted with his plan, saying in 2008 that “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket” if stricter caps were put on greenhouse gas emissions.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that Americans will pay an average of $17 billion more every year for electricity.  And because of the increased cost to manufacturing and business, the rule threatens to eliminate a quarter million jobs every year for the next 15 years.  This issue hits our wallets; it jeopardizes our paychecks; and for many, it threatens their way of life.

What’s more, Congress – at a time when the President’s party led both the House and Senate – has already rejected his climate agenda because of the costs it would impose on families. The President is now trying to bypass the normal legislative process, as his administration has repeatedly attempted to do.  But while he may have the power of the pen, we have the power of the people.

I’ve joined more than 170 Members of Congress in urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to get as much feedback as possible by extending the public comment period.  They complied and are offering nearly four months for the public to comment.  I will do all I can to shut this rule down and spare our wallets another government-imposed expense each month. 

This is not the EPA’s only line of attack on hardworking Americans right now.  I have also been extremely focused on pressuring the EPA to withdraw a new proposal that would give the federal government jurisdiction over countless ditches, prairie potholes, seasonally wet areas and other small bodies of water. 

Under the proposed navigable waters expansion, a flooded driveway could subject landowners to new permitting requirements and use restrictions.  If they are found in violation of Clean Water Act regulations – even if they do so unknowingly – landowners could face fines of up to $37,500 a day. 

We can’t be going to the EPA every time our driveway floods to make sure we aren’t violating some permit requirement or restriction.  It doesn’t make sense.

Unfortunately, we’re all too used to seeing the EPA wage war on the wallets and sanity of hardworking Americans.  When I first arrived to Congress, the EPA was working to review regulations on dust, including dust that is part of many everyday farming activities. I was proud to have introduced legislation in 2011 to prevent the EPA from imposing stricter regulations and instead left it to state and local authorities.  As a result of this pressure from me and others, the EPA did not go in that direction. 

Many South Dakotans still rely on the land to make a living – why would we destroy it, our waters or our air?  We all share the responsibility of taking care of the environment, but our fragile economy and our monthly electricity bills shouldn’t have to take such a hit in the process.  We must find a better approach – one that is as economically sustainable as it is environmentally sustainable.