If you recall, back on December 2nd the Metro Council passed RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1300 sponsored by Council Member Peter Westerholm which expressed the will of the Council in supporting President Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.
The Council had not had months of debate on the bill, they had not heard from experts, they did not have hearing, they did not have scientific studies to validate the wisdom of this move, they did not debate the goals or alternative ways of achieving the goals and they did not do a cost-benefit analysis. They had no idea what it cost to comply and how it would impact our economy. The Council knew no more about the subject than you and I but they thought it important to weight in on the subject and express the will of the Council.
The plan the Council endorsed forces states collectively to cut power-industry emissions by 30 percent in 2030 from 2005 levels. Different states would have different targets. The EPA’s proposed regulations set target emission caps for each state based on assumptions about how much that state can reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. Many states have called the EPA’s goals unrealistic and are pushing back against the proposed regulations. The map below from the National Conference of State Legislators shows which states will have to reduce emission the most.
I bet when the Metro Council passed Resolution 2014-1300 they had not seen the above map not that I think it would have changed any minds. The Beacon Center reports that a study by Suffolk University shows new emission rules on new power plants could cost upwards of $208 million in Tennessee. The rule for existing plants could cost $394 million according to the study, while the mercury emissions rule could cost $727 million, for a total of more than $1.3 billion. Other experts expect retail energy cost to increase 14 to 18% over the next decade. A new study by the Heritage Foundation estimates the new EPA rule will cost Tennessee 14,159 jobs which is 3.51% of the jobs in Tennessee. The map below the congressional districts that will take the hardest hits.
It is time to recall who voted to commend the EPA for this rule and who it was that thought it was a great idea. Here is how they voted.
“Ayes.” Barry, Steine, Maynard, Harrison, Hunt, Banks, Scott Davis, Westerholm, Anthony Davis, Pridemore, Stanley, Moore, Allen, Gilmore, Baker, Langster, Holleman, McGuire, Harmon, Potts, Bedne, Dowell, Todd, Mitchell (24).
“Noes.” Garrett, Tygard, Bennett, Hagar, Glover, Stites, Claiborne, Tenpenny, Weiner, Blalock, Dominy, Duvall (12),
“Abstaining.” Evans, Johnson (2).
Several of these members are termed out and cannot seek reelection, but Megan Barry who voted in favor wants to be mayor and Walter Hunt is seeking to be Council Member at large. Councilman Anthony Davis is seeking reelection and has an opponent worthy of support in Stephen Clement. Scott Davis, Westerholm, Harman, Bedne and other are seeking reelection. I would not vote against someone because I disagreed with one single vote they cast but this one vote would enter into my calculation in deciding if I would support their reelection.
On the other hand, some of those who voted the right way by voting "no" deserve support. Tim Garrett is running for Vice Mayor and several of the others may be running for at large seats such as Bennett, Dominy and Duvall and several of the other such as Hagar, Glover, Tenpenny and Weiner are seeking reelection. That should be point in their favor in determining if their candidacy merits support.