EPA Launches New Attack on Coal

Mar 27, 2012

If you thought Utility MACT, A.K.A. the "Blackout Rule" was bad, get a load of this. Today, EPA dropped a greenhouse gas rule that could cost jobs and hurt the reliability of the electricity grid. The Hill reports [emphasis mine]:

The regulations would require new power plants that burn fossil fuels to release no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt‐hour.The agency said new natural-gas plants will be able to meet the standard without adding any additional technology. But new coal plants would need to add new technology like carbon capture and storage (CCS), in which carbon dioxide emissions are collected and sequestered in the ground rather than released into the atmosphere.

As a trained engineer, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson knows exactly what her agency is doing. By specifying the amount of allowed carbon dioxide emitted, they knowingly pick winners and losers, making coal the villain. Joseph Stanko, a lawyer who represents some utility companies, told the Washington Post, “This standard effectively bans new coal plants.”

Sure, natural gas prices have fallen in recent years because of new domestic production. That's good, but we can’t put all of our eggs in that basket. We need an “all of the above” energy strategy to meet growing demand and improve our energy security.

As Rusty at The Mental Recession reminds us this rule could result in a "rise in unemployment in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania." For an example, watch this video from America's Power to see how EPA's war on coal hurts one Ohio town.

The Chamber's Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Bruce Josten comments on the new rule and knocks down the notion that this administration is serious about using all our energy sources:

With today’s proposed rule on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, EPA has once again shown that the administration’s "all of the above" energy policy is really "some of the above." Today’s proposal could lead to higher energy costs that are bad for families and businesses.

Having been thoroughly rejected by Congress, EPA is now attempting an end-around designed to place an indefinite ban on the construction of conventional coal-fired power plants in America. Coal is an essential part of a diverse, reliable, and affordable energy mix, supplying nearly 40 percent of our electricity. It remains a cost-effective and secure source of power in a time of soaring energy prices.

Josten also points out EPA's questionable authority to issue this regulation:

EPA’s proposal is rife with legal and structural deficiencies that could ultimately allow the scope of the rule to expand well beyond the entities EPA seeks to regulate. Even worse, the agency has proposed this dubious new regulation while a legal cloud hangs over the fundamental question of whether it can regulate greenhouse gases at all.

Today’s announcement is another in a long string of actions this administration has taken that weaken our energy security and raise energy prices. Given recent court decisions finding that EPA overreached—including three in the last week—the Chamber will be evaluating all of its options to overturn this rule if it is ultimately issued.

Higher energy costs and less energy security mean this new EPA rule is a costly burden to job creation.

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