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Beeker: Alabama should remember ‘We Dare Defend Our Rights’ motto, push back against feds

Alabama Public Service Commissioner Chip Beeker
Alabama Public Service Commissioner Chip Beeker

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Public Service Commissioner Chris “Chip” Beeker on Tuesday opened the PSC’s monthly meeting by expressing his frustration with the federal government’s overreach in a variety of areas — from immigration to environmental policies.

When I was a child the federal government did not work to punish success and reward sloth. But, with the Washington, D.C. wealth re­-distribution scheme, that is exactly what is currently happening.

When I was a child the federal government did not entrap people in a welfare state from which there is no escape. But, in a day when the federal government feeds, houses, and clothes people without providing an escape from the cycle of welfare… that is exactly what is and has been occurring in our nation.

When I was a child we would have never imagined that the federal government would send American citizens unemployment checks because they can’t find a job, but endorse the idea that people who come to this country illegally should be allowed to stay and take jobs that those same Americans could have.

Beeker was elected last year on a platform of pushing back against federal overreach, particularly on energy issues, which fall under the PSC’s purview. On Monday, he reiterated his opposition to the Obama Administration’s environmental policies that he says are a direct threat to Alabama jobs.

“(I never would have) imagined that the federal government ­– our own government –­ would impose restrictions on industry that are so stringent that American jobs and industries are threatened,” he said. “Yet, with EPA regulations currently in effect and that are being proposed, that is exactly what we see.”

Beeker was presumably alluding the the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which, once finalized this summer, will impose new stringent regulations on power plant emissions.

A study released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce predicts the environmental mandates in the plan will cost the United States more than 220,000 jobs over the next several years.

According to the study, the proposed regulations will have a disproportionate impact on southern states, where energy costs would jump by $6.6 billion per year over the next decade-and-a-half. The “East-South-Central” region of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky would see its GDP shrink by an estimated $2.2 billion and would lose 21,400 jobs as a result of the plan.

And the effects are already being felt in the Yellowhammer State.

Alabama Power announced in August that the mandates were forcing them to close two of the state’s coal-fired units and transition two others from coal to natural gas, resulting in a reduction in workforce that the company hoped to avoid by transferring employees to other locations. Alabama consumers’ power bills have also increased by an average of $6.78 per month, which members of the PSC have said can be directly attributed to the billions of dollars Alabama Power has spent to comply with the EPA’s increasingly-stringent regulations.

Beeker said Tuesday that Alabama’s state motto might provide some direction as its leaders weigh what to do in response to the federal government’s encroachment on the economy.

“We should regularly remind ourselves that the motto of our great state is ‘We Dare Defend Our Rights,'” he said, “and ask ourselves what steps we are taking to defend our rights.”

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