Obamacare for electricity—that effectively sums up the Obama administration’s new carbon dioxide regulation called the Clean Power Plan. Just as Obamacare forced states to set up their own health insurance exchanges or use a federal exchange, the carbon rule forces states to develop their own energy plan or implement a federal plan forced on them by Washington.
The Buckeye Institute has already explained why this regulation is a big problem for Ohio. Possibly most troubling is the fact that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) currently has sole authority over the compliance plan, wielding unchecked power and excluding voters and their representatives from having a say in the matter.
Fortunately, a bill has been introduced in the Ohio House, which would give the legislature oversight of any plan developed by OEPA. While an encouraging step towards accountability and transparency, this bill needs to be strengthened in three ways.
First, the bill should require the General Assembly to take a vote to approve or reject the compliance plan so that each legislator has the opportunity to comment on and express his or her opinion of the plan.
Second, the bill should require OEPA to write a report that justifies their compliance plan choices and estimates the impact of the plan on energy costs and reliability. This report should be readily available to the public as well as government insiders. Ohio citizens should have the opportunity to understand how this federal mandate impacts them.
Finally, the bill should make any future revisions to Ohio’s plan also subject to legislative approval. The Clean Power Plan will affect Ohio through at least 2030 and much could change between now and then. It is important that all Ohioans have input and accountability today as well as in the future.
This “Obamacare for energy” regulation will affect Ohio for many years to come. Ohioans deserve the opportunity to understand these regulations and exercise their voice through their legislature. We applaud the House for its efforts to protect Ohioans from federal overreach and rising energy costs for households. Implementing these three modifications will ensure this protection is long-standing.