Congress sheds light on proposed new energy rules that could leave Americans in the dark

In May, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants. Our modeling at American Experiment found these strict regulations would cause massive rolling blackouts in America’s heartland by forcing reliable, abundant forms of traditional U.S. energy — like coal and natural gas — out of use.

On top of blackouts, these regulations will also result in higher power bills and greater dependence on hostile foreign energy sources.

Thankfully, conservatives in the House are fighting back.

In two recent congressional hearings, the House Committee on Science and Technology and House Committee on Energy and Commerce zeroed in on the harmful impacts that the new rules will have on America’s energy security and reliable electricity, a top priority for voters across the political spectrum. The hearings shed light on the vulnerability of our nation’s electric grid and how the proposed rules will further strain an increasingly unstable system.

Congressman Brian Babin (R., Texas), questioning EPA administrator Michael Regan, cited utility providers’ warnings that “this rule will only serve to cost hundreds of billions of dollars, significantly raise customers’ power bills, and require a rapid transition away from reliable American-produced natural gas without a realistic plan to fully replace that generation.”

Without reliable coal and natural-gas power plants, Americans will experience more frequent rolling blackouts and brownouts nationwide.

An analysis by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation found that around two-thirds of North America was at risk of energy shortfalls during periods of “extreme demand” this summer. While the U.S. avoided major outages in the summer of 2023, scheduled coal-plant closures in response to EPA regulations and energy policies enacted in liberal states will reduce our margin for error moving forward, which is why the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the entity responsible for establishing and enforcing reliability standards in the U.S., identified energy policy as a major risk to grid reliability in its August 2023 report.

The threat is not lost on the American people. Nearly 70 percent of Americans are concerned about power plants retiring without enough replacement energy to meet demand.

In the Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, Congressman Larry Bucshon (R., Ind.) quoted four of the nation’s largest grid operators — PJM Interconnection, Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and the Southwest Power Pool — which are responsible for generating and transmitting electricity to around 154 million people, as warning that the carbon rules “have the potential to materially and adversely impact electrical reliability” and “when combined with other EPA rules and other policy actions, could well exacerbate the disturbing trend and growing risk” to grid reliability.

As the administration forces the country into more weather-dependent energy sources, like wind and solar, it is not just compromising the reliability of the nation’s electricity supply, it is also compromising our national security.

There is no bigger beneficiary of the current direction of climate policy than America’s adversaries such as China and Russia. Not only does America’s current energy policy strengthen Russia’s geopolitical hand as global energy supplier, but it also makes our economy even more dependent on the rare-earth elements and raw materials found in wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles, most of which are produced or processed in China.

America’s electric grid is in a reliability hole, and the first thing we need to do is stop digging it.

Conservatives in Congress are right to highlight the dire consequences Americans will face if the administration continues moving forward with the costly and unworkable mandates set out in the EPA’s proposed power-plant rules, rules that are likely to increase the risk of blackouts and certain to push electric bills still higher.

This piece was written by Isaac Orr and it originally appeared in The National Review.