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Tallahassee Democrat: Mike Murtha: EPA’s Clean Power Plan would hurt Florida

Monday, October 27, 2014

Florida’s economic recovery made real progress last year, with the construction sector leading the state in job growth. We are on a very successful track, but President Obama’s administration is trying to lay a roadblock directly in front of us. Our political candidates need to help bring this issue to the forefront.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s current Clean Power Plan would force states to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030. The cost of this process would be astronomical and needs to be addressed if we want our lights on in our homes and offices.

It is not clear the Clean Power Plan is even achievable or necessary. You don’t have to take my word for it. Ted Kury, the director of energy studies at the University of Florida’s Public Utility Research Center, told the Sun-Sentinel in June that “the proposed rule will definitely result in higher rates. The EPA is imposing greater restrictions on the way utilities produce electricity; it is sure to increase costs. The impact on bills, however, will depend on how much less consumers use. And the EPA is assuming that consumers will use less electricity.”

The blow to Florida’s energy production, construction and manufacturing could be devastating. The costs to reduce carbon emissions would be astronomical, which ultimately would have to be passed on to consumers. The EPA seems to believe that energy producers and manufacturers can simply whip hundreds of millions of dollars out of their pockets, cheerfully paying for new technologies needed to produce dramatic emissions reductions, and no one else will be affected. Well, it doesn’t work that way.

A recent poll conducted by Paragon Insights and supported by the Partnership for a Better Energy Future highlights some of the public reaction to this proposed plan. Close to 50 percent of Florida voters in this poll said they were not willing to pay even one dollar more for energy under the EPA regulations. Additionally, a majority of Florida voters believe that the United States can’t afford new costs and potential job losses resulting from the EPA regulations.

To meet the current plan set by the EPA, Floridians will have to pay more for electricity and use less energy. The prices for everything from construction supplies to durable goods will rise because manufacturing costs will increase. The construction industry, which has been at the front of Florida’s employment growth, will shed jobs as construction slows, and businesses will have to find ways to cut expenses. The same goes for manufacturing and trade.

Clean air regulations need to be realistic and cost-effective and deliver small economic impact.

This rule does not meet those goals. Instead of hitting Florida with higher energy costs in what might be a vain attempt to reach an unreachable goal, the EPA should scrap this proposal and come up with one that is less burdensome and more realistic. Otherwise, our economic climb and electricity in our homes will be lights out. We urge the public and political candidates to voice their concern to the EPA before the Dec. 1 deadline.

Mike Murtha is president of the Florida Concrete and Products Association (

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