Public policy panel criticizes Obama energy plan

Ashley Tsao

At a panel Wednesday afternoon, a visiting policy analyst dubbed President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan the “Cruel Power Plan” in her critique of the effectiveness of environmental regulation.

The event, called “Switch Off Washington,” hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, featured panelists involved in Texas politics. White, director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment, said Obama’s proposed plan will hurt lower socioeconomic classes the most. 

“I would like to call it the ‘Cruel Power Plan’ because it will really hurt everyone, especially the low and middle income people in terms of job loss and increasing electricity bills,” White said.

According to the White House press office website, the plan aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the primary greenhouse gas, by 32 percent by 2030. States will develop their own methods to meet the plan requirements.

Peggy Venable, panelist and policy fellow at Americans for Prosperity, said that by the Environmental Protection Agency’s own standard, this regulation is unnecessary because it would result in a minimal decrease in world temperatures. 

UT geosciences professor Robert Dickinson, member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, said regulation is necessary because carbon dioxide puts immense stress on our global system’s future, even though effects may be limited. Dickinson did not attend the event.

“Carbon emission has been growing more rapidly in the past decade than it has in the past,” Dickinson said. “If this continues, we would have to worry about things like Texas being in drought.”

Panelist Rep. Charles Anderson (R-Waco) said the federal program should not be forced upon individual states.

“This is where we are being hoodwinked,” Anderson said. “We must protect our state sovereignty and see what our state thinks is the best way to go about energy.”  

Dickinson said the federal government is justified to regulate carbon emissions because no one else will. 

“The world has already waited 40 years for industry to regulate pollutants, but they haven’t been able to,” Dickinson said. “It would be nice to have an industry that could control things for the benefit of all people, but they don’t seem to have that capability. The U.S. needs to be the leader of the world when it comes to helping the environment.”