We hear criticism all the time about how fiscal conservatives want to balance the state and federal budgets "on the backs of the poor and the elderly"--but we never seem to hear any outcry about how we are "saving the planet" on the backs of those same poor people.
On Friday, Wisconsin Public Service announced that it will be raising electricity rates nearly seven percent next year. The reason? The Cross State Air Pollution Rule--which the Environmental Protection Agency put into place earlier this year. In order to meet the new standards for greenhouse gas emissions, WPS will have to run its most-cost effective coal-fired power plants less--and increase production at the more-costly natural gas-fired plants. Expensive new emission controls will have to be installed on the coal plants--and the utility will have to purchase power from companies that have "carbon credits" to spare.
Now for many of us, another seven percent on the utility bill every month will be a small price to pay to keep the lights on and the house heated or cooled. But for those living on the edge, won't that extra cost push them even closer to the edge? And let's not forget all those "hard-working Wisconsin families" that couldn't afford to pay an extra seven-percent toward their health insurance premiums earlier this year. This is a 100% increase in their misery.
This is just the latest in a series of shoes to drop as a result of the Obama Administration's new energy policies. The first was reneging on the pledge to explore for more oil sources in the US--and to actually drill for it (remember that campaign promise?)--and the continued devaluation of the dollar--resulting in much of the increase in oil prices on the international market. The second came in the pointless "Cash For Clunkers" program, which took tens of thousands of perfectly good vehicles out of the resale market--limiting the availability of less-expensive, reliable used cars. Up next is the outrageously-inflated CAFE standards for new vehicles coming our way later this decade--driving up the cost of producing and buying new vehicles.
Of course, we have an answer for reducing the impact of our "greener" energy policies--Big Government Programs!! Can't afford to buy gas? Just take our publicly financed buses! Hope your job is on the busline--or you might be walking a ways in the rain and snow. Can't afford to buy a car or a plane ticket? No problem, take the heavily-subsidized high speed rail!! Once you get there--you're on your own!! Can't afford your power and heating bills? Sign up for our Energy Assistance Programs!! Let everybody else pick up the cost of running your three HDTV's, your air conditioner and your kids' video game systems.
Oh well, I guess more expensive gas, electricity and cars are just a small price to pay to keep the global temperature from going up another two-tenths of one degree over the next hundred years--or least until the next major volcanic eruption or change in ocean currents can do it for free.