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The administration is not just killing coal

Not content with pending rules that virtually bar construction of new coal-fired power plants, President Obama directed the U.S. Environ-mental Protection Agency to set limits on how much carbon dioxide the nation's existing electric power plants may emit.

The implications for the American coal industry, coal-fired utilities, and business and residential power customers are enormous.

The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated it would cost utilities $4 billion to comply with new regulations on coal power plants, but the economy would see from $25 to $60 billion in benefits.

This, plainly put, is a crock, and the story behind it is one of dishonest government that should be curbed.

The figures stem from a new construct slipped into a new efficiency standard for microwave ovens.

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy declined to set energy conservation standards for microwaves, saying it "has determined that such standards would not be technologically feasible and economically justified."

Four years later, everything had changed. In May Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said his department had finished new efficiency standards for microwaves that would save Americans almost $3 billion by 2030.

Into this seemingly innocuous regulation of soup-nuking devices, the department slipped in a gargantuan redefinition of what it called the "social benefits" of cutting carbon emissions.

In 2010, an interagency group decided that every metric ton of carbon reduced by regulation would count for $21 in "social benefits."

The government's previous official estimate was $0.

In issuing its new microwave efficiency standards, the Energy Department - citing what it said was "the best available science" - raised its assumption of the "social benefits" of reducing carbon emissions to about $36 per metric ton, the Wall Street Journal said.

"The social-cost gambit will allow the administration to claim an enormous economic benefit for any greenhouse gas regulation that reduces carbon - such as new standards on existing coal plants (new plants are already being regulated out of existence), oil refineries or lawn mowers."

Added the Journal: "This will also help to disguise the net cost of these rules in lost jobs, higher energy prices and less consumer choice."

Lost jobs. Higher energy prices.

And dishonest, deceptive government.

As the Journal points out, "Congress has never determined that there are social costs to carbon emissions, much less how to measure them."

Republicans are not OK with government by an unscrupulous and unaccountable bureaucracies. Democrats in the Senate have blocked action to curb it.

Add that to the list of things to be upset about.


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