Noon: Obama’s plan, kill jobs, hurt consumers

Marita Noon
On Twitter @EnergyRabbit
Marita Noon

There are subtle aspects of the Obama Administration’s energy policy efforts with negative impacts that are not felt for years after the policies are implemented. By then, it’s often too late to do much about them.

One example is in the Four Corners region of New Mexico — the San Juan Mine. Earlier this year, the mine employed more than 400 people. On June 16, 85 workers were laid off — the result of an agreement between Public Service Company of New Mexico and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The “agreement” to shut down two of the four units at the San Juan Generating Station — thereby cutting the immediate need for coal — is the result of the EPA’s 2011 Regional Haze Program. This is about aesthetics, not a public health standard — though the results will be undetectable to the human eye. For this, nearly a quarter of the mine’s workforce has been terminated.

The reality is, anti-fossil fuel groups like the Sierra Club, wanted the entire plant shut down. In 2018, PNM will have to plead their case before the Public Regulatory Commission to keep the San Juan Generating Station functioning past 2022. PNM is currently considering a plan for meeting its needs for electricity without the remaining two units. If the plant closes, all jobs, approximately 800, at both the mine and the generating station will be gone — greatly impacting the local economy.

Obama’s far-reaching energy policies are insidious — hurting consumers in ways we don’t even think of.

On June 10, Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, or AHRI, gave testimony on Capitol Hill. He addressed the nearly 40-year old Energy Policy and Conservation Act, or EPCA — which, he said “has been misapplied by the Department of Energy.” The Obama Administration has run amok in its application of EPCA. Yurek backs this up by pointing out the difference in the Clinton and Obama administrations: “While the Clinton Administration’s DOE issued just six major efficiency rules during his eight years in office, the Obama Administration’s DOE issued eight major efficiency rules in 2014 alone”—and 11 more are expected before he leaves office.

Yurek summarized: This practice hurts consumers because “(w)hen new products and equipment cost more than consumers can afford, they find alternatives, some of which compromise their comfort and safety, while saving less energy or none at all or in some cases using more energy.”

In the name of energy efficiency, on December 6, 2013, Obama issued a memorandum ordering federal buildings to triple renewable energy use and increase energy efficiency. Now, more than three years later, we get a taste of what his federal building initiative is costing taxpayers.

On June 16, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA, Office of Inspector General released a report on the 53 percent cost escalation at Fannie Mae’s extravagant new downtown D.C. building.

“Because Fannie Mae is an entity in the conservatorship of the U.S. government,” the report states: “FHFA, as conservator, will need to assess the anticipated efficiencies of specific proposed features against estimated costs of those features and determine whether the efficiencies warrant the costs.”

In response to the Inspector General’s caustic criticism, Melvin L. Watt, FHFA director, claimed that many of the upfront investments would save money over time. Watt’s memorandum only offers two such examples and one is more efficient lighting. He claims: “upfitting space with more expensive LED lighting instead of less expensive fluorescent lighting would result in significantly cheaper operating costs.” The other example was window shades.

These are just three recent examples of Obama Administration policies that were put in place years before the resulting job losses and costs to consumers and taxpayers are felt. There are many little rulemakings, programs, and memorandums that will still be impacting jobs and increasing costs long after he is out of office.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy. She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy — which expands on the content of her weekly column.