November 7, Amb. (ret.) James C. Oberwetter, President and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber, presented before the U.S. EPA Listening Session on Carbon Emissions Standard for Existing Power Plants in Dallas. Read on for his full statement.
Good afternoon, welcome to the Dallas Fort Worth Region of Texas from the Dallas Regional Chamber. By census count you are in the fastest growing metropolitan region in the entire United States of America. My name is James C. Oberwetter President of the chamber, the largest in North Texas comprised of more than 2,000 corporate members with a workforce contingent of nearly 300,000 employees. Three million people are at work today in Dallas, Fort Worth and all of North Texas.
With 6.7 million people in this fastest growing region we absolutely must be concerned about infrastructure to support our growth and that of course includes energy, electricity. By 2015, we will be teetering on the cliff’s edge of electrical production in Texas and may fall below reserve margins unless we carefully manage our energy mix.
Here we try to tell it like we see it. We are growing and productive because we keep our costs of doing business and doing government as low as possible, within reason. We have never liked the heavy hand of government as our leading way of life. It is disruptive to our businesses, can be job destroying, thus economically harmful to employees and their families. When an act of government suggests such a huge impact as that which is being considered, it gives us pause to consider whether the potential value of such a measure is worth the potential sacrifice to our workforce, to their families and our economy.
When government acts, it acts broadly and there are always unintended consequences. We see this unfolding each day with the introduction of the new health care program. Some of these consequences can be devastating and costly. Thus it is important for EPA to model in great detail expected gains to be achieved and to spend significant time examining issues of the unexpected and to thoroughly game out the unanticipated consequences. This takes time. Only when this is done in detail can we know the truth of the benefits and yes, the costs of the regulation.
In Texas our energy mix is diverse and we need it all to power the growth that we are experiencing. In fact our national leaders over time have said regarding energy, “We need it all.” It is mendacious to say one thing and do another. It coarsens the relationship between the people and its government. We already have lost generating product due to regulation and we are concerned that new coal plants will be prohibited by a too strictured a Greenhouse Gas rule. And this would come at a time when Texas is predicted to fall below our electrical reserve margin raising questions of reliability of electrical delivery.
When the executive requires EPA to issue a proposed regulation by next June, to finalize it in 2015 and have the States submit compliance plans by June of 2016 is rushing such a complicated regulation. After all, a proposed pipeline from Canada to Texas has already required more than three years of Federal study and review. This greenhouse regulation is much broader, national in scope, and deserves more study and input.
We would suggest that these listening sessions be expanded to include the states in which the jobs are located in the production of coal product so that EPA can understand the concerns of those directly impacted there.
We are concerned that the rule will change our energy mix, driving costs of doing business, especially in the technology sector and other high use industrial production, as well as driving the cost of residential electricity higher. Higher product costs and the impact on exports need most careful examination.
For these, and for many other reasons, we ask the EPA to construct reasonable rules which support a diverse energy mix to meet our region’s and the country’s growing energy needs. Be considerate of each state, providing flexibility in the guidelines to be used as implementation plans are developed.
And finally, remember the unintended consequences that can result when the nation’s energy mix, is profoundly affected by rule making. Take the time to get this right, we need lights on when we flip the switch, in an efficient, affordable and reliable way.