Editor’s Note: The following editorial first appeared January 12 in the Duluth News Tribune.
L-647 BM-ST Luke Voigt takes EPA rule to task
RECENTLY, ADVOCATES FOR the EPA’s Clean Power Plan have tried to make the case that the plan would benefit low-income citizens. Do they really believe that? How is this going to make electricity cheaper? How can requiring utilities to shut down hundreds of millions of dollars of perfectly good equipment that is mostly paid for and then forcing them to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of new equipment going to save anyone money?
Oh, it will have many effects, but saving money would not be one of them. It’s like claiming we’re going to save you money by destroying your car and making you buy a new one with slightly better gas mileage.
Minnesota’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, including coal, is the reason Minnesotans enjoy some of the most competitive electricity rates in the country. That leaves far more money in consumers’ pockets for other needs. And no one benefits from that more than low-income citizens. We simply cannot leave the less fortunate in the cold and dark.
And we haven’t even discussed what the Clean Power Plan would do to our economy on the jobs front. While Minnesota’s economy has made improvements the past few years, 50 percent of workers remain underemployed. The jobs provided to those in the electrical-generation industry are good-paying, middle-class jobs, thousands of which would disappear under this plan and be replaced with far-less-lucrative careers. We can’t afford to lose those positions, all the while making our region less globally competitive by increasing energy costs. We would be doing no Minnesotans any favors by decreasing average incomes while increasing average expenses.
Furthermore, Minnesota already enjoys some of the cleanest air in the country; over the past 20 years, emissions from our electric utilities have decreased, and our air quality has improved. Our state consistently earns high grades on clean air from the American Lung Association. We already are where other states want to be.
I urge policymakers in St. Paul to take a hard look at the impact their implementation of the Clean Power Plan would have on families and consider that continuing our diverse energy portfolio is good for the economy and good for hard-working Minnesotans.
Luke Voigt of Ramsey, Minn., is business manager for Boilermakers Local 647, which has union halls in Grand Rapids; Ramsey, Minn.; and Bismarck, N.D. L-647 members build and maintain major capital projects, including power plants operated by utilities in Minnesota and North Dakota.