Good news: This winter is supposed to be unusually mild for the East Coast. Bad news: If President Barack Obama has his way, unelected bureaucrats in Washington will be driving your future utility bills through the roof.
That's the result of President Obama's "Clean Power Plan" regulation—a regulation that our state leaders are wisely choosing to oppose. Enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency, this mandate essentially gives Washington control over New Jersey energy policy. Even worse, these regulations will do great harm to hardworking New Jersey families.
Gov. Chris Christie's administration has just joined a bipartisan, ongoing lawsuit to halt this Washington overreach. With Gov. Christie's place on the national debate stage, he is uniquely positioned to protect New Jersey families from higher electricity rates while also showing other governors across the country how to lead the way.
Here's why his leadership on this issue is so critical. The EPA's new rules mandate that New Jersey cut carbon emissions 26 percent by 2030. The only way to achieve such dramatic reductions over such a relatively short period of time is to shutter many of our traditional power sources that provide affordable and dependable energy.
We'd have to exchange them for far less effective—but far more costly—alternatives such as wind and solar power. New Jerseyans are well aware how expensive the EPA's preferred energy sources are. For example, it costs 3.4 times as much to produce the same amount of energy using offshore wind turbines as with natural gas power.
Land-based wind turbines and solar power are hardly any better. An analysis of federal data from the Institute for Energy Research found they can be up to three to four times more expensive than existing energy sources.
This change would make our energy less dependable. The N.J. Department of Energy and the North American Electric Reliability Company both agree that reliance on less effective alternative energy sources, as the EPA mandates, would pose challenges for our power grid. This could mean that our electricity and heat won't be there when we need it most, such as during a polar vortex.
That's a raw deal for Garden State families already struggling to make ends meet. All told, economists at Energy Ventures Analysis estimate the EPA's regulation could increase New Jersey household utilities bills by $873 per year by 2020, while NERA Economic Consulting estimates electricity rates will continue rising by nearly 10 percent annually through 2030. These costs will be even more challenging for the poorest among us, who may have to make painful choices and tradeoffs in order to keep the lights on.
Rising energy costs will also increase the cost of doing business in our state. It would be especially painful for manufacturers, whose work is highly energy-intensive. The Heritage Foundation estimates the regulation could ultimately cost nearly 15,000 Garden State manufacturing jobs.
There also is the possibility the entire regulation is illegal. At least a dozen state attorneys general across the country are challenging the EPA's mandates in federal court where their arguments enjoy bipartisan support. Even Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe—a founder of the environmental law movement and professor to President Obama—agrees it is both unconstitutional and a violation of statutory law.
With all of this in mind, the governor's administration has wisely taken some steps to oppose the carbon mandates, urging the EPA to put a hold on implementation and joining the lawsuit. But with the EPA still barreling full speed ahead, it is clear that more must be done.
That's why Gov. Christie should choose not to submit an implementation plan to the EPA, which is his legal right. It's the surest way to keep energy decisions here in New Jersey, and to protect hardworking families against unaffordable energy prices.
If there's any governor in the nation up to the challenge, it's Gov. Christie. He has shown similar leadership in the past, pulling the state out of the costly Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Now it's time for him to stand up for us again and show other governors the way.
Mike Proto is the communications director of Americans for Prosperity-New Jersey.