As part of its effort to create dialogue with the American people on environmental issues, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently launched a project in conjunction with SMITH Magazine, Six Words for the Planet.
The project, officially housed at this site, invites all citizens of the world to submit a six-word essay describing their feelings about Earth.
“Healthier families, cleaner communities, stronger America,” writes EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in her own offering. Other submissions from within EPA include the existential (“Many Nations. One Planet. Our Home.”) and haikuesque admonishment (“Breathe; A Moment in Nature. Breathe!”)
Catalyzing conversation about environmental topics is certainly not out of bounds like a lot of other things the agency has been doing–and caught doing. But most people have concerns that go beyond the (improving) environment.
Many have legitimate concerns about the national economy, our struggle to create and sustain quality jobs, and the affordability of energy for businesses and families. Everyday concerns where progress has turned into regress.
It is these concerns that EPA needs to hear, especially since the agency is actively pursuing regulations and policies that have a tremendous impact on those issues.
Is EPA Listening?
Consider the suite of regulations currently in process at EPA, which together pose billions of dollars in new costs to American consumers and threaten the reliability of America’s power grid. Chief among these is Utility MACT, a new regulation that will negatively affect coal-fired power plants across the nation.
Proponents of a robust American power portfolio have pointed out that the potential of accelerated closures of coal-fired plants caused by Utility MACT could mean that power providers nationwide are forced to turn to other energy sources to replace the lost capacity, creating higher consumer costs.
In fact, this is already happening in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Jersey, where GenOn Energy is shuttering eight plants due to “more stringent federal environmental regulations,” chief among those being Utility MACT. National studies have found that Utility MACT could shutter as much as 50,000 megawatts of capacity and cost as much as $300 billion nationwide.
Other EPA regulations such as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (also see here); Greenhouse Gas Regulations for Utilities stemming from Massachusetts vs. EPA (see here); and regulation of coal ash as hazardous waste pose their own threats to affordability and reliability.
EPA’s choices are either to treat coal ash as a hazardous waste or let states decide how best to regulate the natural byproduct. The energy industry and consumer groups like PACE have made clear that EPA’s most stringent alternative – treating coal ash as hazardous waste – presents enormous logistical and financial challenges to the power sector. But is EPA listening?
Our Favorite Submissions … and Your Turn
The best outcomes for American energy policy are the product of rich and open conversation between stakeholders like power consumers and those setting important policy like EPA. That’s why PACE asked members of the public to submit their own six words for EPA.
Here are some of our favorites:
Stop making rules. Just enforce them.
Healthy communities begin with quality jobs
Cleanest air, water in 100 years
Wanted: practical, logical, feasible environmental policies
Full employment from science-based regulation
Balance of intelligent reason with stewardship?
EPA should listen to power consumers
Or simply submit your ideas as a comment to this post below.