President Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help.'” In October of this year, Seminole Electric Cooperative and the nine electric distribution cooperatives it serves (including Clay Electric) found out the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is coming to Florida to “help” with the final, published version of the “Clean Power Plan.” This is the same plan that contains policies that could raise members’ electric rates, harm the reliability of Florida’s electric grid, and damage the state’s fragile rural economy.
Seminole Electric Co-op and Clay Electric have been sounding the alarm that this plan could have devastating effects on rural Florida. Seminole personnel, including CEO Lisa Johnson, have participated in public forums to discuss the rule, testified in Congress, met with the head of the EPA, Gina McCarthy, and even met with the President’s Office of Management of Budget. Seminole has also encouraged the public to submit comments to the EPA. Despite these efforts, it appears that most of the concerns that were expressed over the plan, and its potential to raise electric bills, were ignored.
Seminole is not giving up its efforts to fight the EPA. Seminole believes, as do many others, that the Clean Power Plan is a massive regulatory overreach that was never approved by elected officials and is vulnerable to legal attack. Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, and a world-renowned academic, said, “The Clean Power Plan is unconstitutional . . . the EPA acts as though it has the legislative authority to re-engineer the nation’s electric generating system and power grid. It does not.”
Seminole recently filed suit against the Clean Power Plan in federal court, asking that the court review the Clean Power Plan to determine if it is legal. Seminole also asked the court to delay compliance with the rule until the lawsuit is resolved. This delay, or “stay,” if granted, would prevent electric cooperatives like Seminole from having to make decisions that might raise electric rates before it is determined if the Clean Power Plan is legal.
Federal courts have shown a recent willingness to restrain the EPA’s regulatory efforts. Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court overturned EPA’s “MATS” rule after years of legal fighting. A federal court also recently delayed enforcement of the much-maligned EPA “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, remarking that the stay “temporarily silences the whirlwind of confusion that springs from uncertainty about the requirements of the new rule and whether they will survive legal testing.”
Members of Clay Electric who are concerned about the effects of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan on their electric rates can send a powerful message of support to members of Congress who are pushing the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions to disapprove the Clean Power Plan regulations.
The CRA allows for an up or down vote, by a simple majority, to reject Administrative Regulations. This effort is expected to move successfully in both chambers and it provides an opportunity to send a message of support (especially in the Senate) to leaders in Washington.
Visit www.action.coop to send messages to Congress (House and Senate). The message essentially says “Vote YES for the CRA.” We encourage your participation.
What ultimately happens with the Clean Power Plan may take years to resolve, but your involvement can help protect the affordable, reliable electricity your cooperative provides.