The EPA's Christmas gift to America

While most Americans are preparing for holiday celebrations this month, the Obama administration and its EPA are rolling out and enacting rules to make sure next year's festivities are certainly more expensive and much less bright.

In its zeal to kill coal-fired power plants -- as the president hinted he would do when he ran for office -- the administration will finalize one energy-crushing rule this month and fully implement another as we ring in the new year.

Among the new rules facing America are the Utility Maximum Available Control Technology Rule and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. A real mouthful, to be sure, but these words mean less -- much less electricity being produced in the United States. According to the administration's own research, these job-killing regulations can force many existing power plants to "retire" or delay and prevent much-needed new power plants from going online.

The basic rule of economics is that when there is a reduced supply, a product will cost more. In this case, these two regulations combined are expected to cost consumers an additional $184 billion from 2011 to 2030. In fact, one group estimates that these expensive regulations could eliminate up to 4 percent of power supply and could cost upwards of $120 billion by 2015 alone.

The possibility of Kansans losing power as a result of these regulations is more than speculation. It is an inevitable reality. Regulations like these establish unattainable targets for emissions levels that Sunflower Electric may not be able to achieve with its Holcomb expansion project, an overdue endeavor that will supply much-needed electricity to our part of the country. Regulations like these also set unreasonable deadlines for compliance that entities like Westar may not be able to meet, and as a result, could impose blackouts on Kansans as early as this summer.

While Washington thinks it might be doing America a favor by imposing these regulations, all it has done is cause a tremendous amount of uncertainty, unachievable goals and undue costs to you.

Supporters of these regulations argue that they are necessary for environmental reasons. But without these job-killing regulations, progress has already been made. In fact, between 1980 and 2008, there have been substantial reductions in nitrogen dioxide (40 percent decline), sulfur dioxide (56 percent) and lead (96 percent). The EPA wants you to believe that there have been no gains whatsoever, which is why there needs to be expedited new regulations -- no matter what the practical and economic costs are. The EPA is trying to make America buy into a "solution" in search of a problem.

Simply stated, America needs more energy -- not less. America needs less regulation -- not more. And, it needs it from a variety of sources. But, until the time comes when it is economically viable and non-disruptive to expand and transition to nontraditional sources, we cannot abandon the sources of energy we do have and on which our economy relies.

The Obama administration may hope that the announcement of one rule and official "start date" for another go unnoticed, but consumers will certainly recognize these regulations when electric bills skyrocket and rolling blackouts could force a 2012 holiday celebration to take place in the dark.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Fowler and Hutchinson, is a Republican representing the First District of Kansas in the U.S. House of Representatives.