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What would an additional $500 in energy expenses do to your household’s annual budget? Cause you to miss a car payment? Is it a month’s rent or mortgage? The amount of a few little “luxuries” like cable TV or a tablet computer for your kids?

For most Montanans it’s not a trivial amount. But $500 is how much the average Montanan will have to come up with to pay for President Obama’s plan to dismantle and reassemble our nation’s energy system.

A tighter budget may be the new normal sooner than you think if the Environmental Protection Agency is successful in implementing an assortment of new regulations, chief among them the controversial plan aimed at carbon dioxide emissions.

A recent, independent analysis of the EPA’s proposals found that they would cause the state’s energy prices to spike by 53 percent over the next six years. That equates to Montana households paying $500 more annually for their energy.

Doesn't look pretty, does it? And that analysis doesn't even take into account the macro impacts Montana will suffer to our important energy sector.

The evidence shows that the President’s plan will result in slower economic growth in our state and fewer jobs. Put it all together and the average Montanan is going to face higher energy prices at the same time our incomes will be less.

The President’s plan has a steep price tag for Montanans, but it’s not all that apparent what we get in return for that pain. The net effect of these complicated regulations will be a reduction in carbon emissions by about 1 permitted globally.

The environmental groups and government bureaucrats rooting for the EPA’s plan want to make power production in America an “example of responsibility” for the rest of the world. There’s nothing wrong with the sentiment—the problem is those busybodies want to achieve this goal without any regard for the cost the rest of us will pay.

Climate change is certainly a problem that we must tackle, but the solution to this problem must be at a cost we can afford.

At no time in history have consumers benefited from government intervening in a market—in this case that intervention is putting the EPA between the consumer and their power provider. It always results in price distortions. And this proposal is the granddaddy of all market interventions—it’s government central planning on a scale to make a Soviet apparatchik blush.

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Montana Democrats are going all in behind the President’s radical plan. They've already introduced bills for the upcoming Montana legislative session that will result in Montana consumers getting soaked with astronomically higher bills.

That’s not what Montanans want—not because we don’t want to address climate change, but because we have to do it in a responsible manner. It’s clear the Clean Power Plan creates more problems than it fixes, and is simply not the solution we are looking for.

It doesn't have to be this way. This month nearly every member of the Montana Republican caucus in the legislature signed on to comments to the EPA in strong opposition to their proposal to hijack Montana’s energy.

The path Republicans would prefer to take is to solve climate change in a fiscally responsible manner—without forcing consumers to break their budgets—by focusing on making coal-fired electricity generation even cleaner than it is today. That has the added benefit to Montana of making our vast coal deposits even more valuable—developing that coal means new jobs, a broader tax base, and more prosperity for our state.

Clean coal technology is the only way we can address climate change and provide power at an affordable rate in our country and around the world. Unfortunately, the Democrats’ Clean Power Plan, as it stands, would stop clean coal tech from being developed. And if they get their way, you’re going to pay the cost.

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Roger Webb is chairman of the Montana Senate Energy Committee. He represents Senate District 23 in Billings.

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