Monthly Archives: June 2014

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

Wisconsin Manufacturers Oppose EPA Regulation Proposal (The Star)

Manley: EPA rule will kill jobs, raise energy prices

By Scott Manley, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

On June 2, the U.S. EPA proposed a global warming regulation that will significantly increase the cost of electricity for Wisconsin consumers, and kill thousands of jobs.

The rule targets our fleet of coal-fired power plants, and is likely to inflict dramatic and irreversible harm to our economy if it is allowed to move forward.

Numerous studies have been done attempting to predict the cost of EPA’s rule and the impact it will have on higher electric rates for homeowners and businesses. For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently released a study showing that the rule will cost consumers in our region $3.3 billion per year in higher electricity prices.

Another study done by NERA Economic Consultants predicted the rule will cost consumers between $13 billion and $17 billion per year. Yet another study released by the Heritage Foundation predicts the rule will cost a family of four $1,200 per year by 2023.

No matter which study turns out to be most accurate, it’s clear the EPA rule will be tremendously expensive, and that added expense will ultimately mean that you and I pay more for electricity. A lot more.

Costly EPA Proposal Hard to Defend (Los Angeles Times)

Finding fault with the EPA

The Natural Resources Defense Council’s Frances Beinecke finds it so difficult to defend the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s claim that its new carbon dioxide regulations will save consumers money and their jobs that she prefers to criticize the EPA’s critics instead. But their logic is unassailable: Driving out low-cost electricity and replacing it with more expensive and less reliable sources will stick American households and businesses with higher utility bills. (“Don’t buy the smear of the EPA,” Opinion, June 3)

The EPA’s rosy cost estimates inspire no confidence. Two years ago, the EPA predicted that other power plant rules would close only 5,000 megawatts of low-cost power. The Department of Energy says the EPA was off by a factor of more than 10.

Beinecke can’t defend the climate benefits because the EPA never claims its carbon dioxide rules will have any material effect on global temperatures. To get health benefits, the EPA double counts those it has attributed to other regulations. The Brookings Institution found that the EPA even padded those by adding benefits that accrue to other countries.

Nine Governors Urge President to Withdraw Carbon Regulation Proposal

Nine Republican governors sent a letter to President Obama urging him to abandon his administration’s recent proposal for burdensome greenhouse gas emissions standards and instead pursue a more pragmatic energy policy where states take the lead.

Here is the text of the letter:

June 16, 2014

Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As Governors leading diverse States that both produce and consume energy, we ask that you pursue a pragmatic energy policy that balances our nation’s economic needs, energy security, and environmental quality objectives.

As you know, the energy industry is a major source of job creation in our country, providing employment to millions of our citizens and bolstering U.S. economic competitiveness. America was able to meet almost 90 percent of its energy needs last year — the most since March 1985 — in large part because of increased domestic energy production. We take pride in the fact that domestic production largely powers America and increasingly other economies as well, helping to eradicate poverty and to provide political stability around the globe.

Development of our resources has put more money in the pockets of working families and has helped the poor and elderly on fixed incomes, who can now more easily afford to run their air conditioning in the heat of the summer. For example, American natural gas production is reducing average retail electricity prices by 10 percent, saving households, on average, nearly $1,000 per year between 2012 and 2015.

This significant accomplishment of increased U.S. energy independence, with its associated economic and health benefits, has been achieved largely by State policies — despite redundant and burdensome federal regulation. Your proposed rules for regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants and redefining the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) would unnecessarily expand federal authority over the States in energy policymaking and risk undermining our success.

In an unprecedented move, your GHG emissions plan would largely dictate to the States the type of electricity generation they could build and operate. In addition, you seek to essentially ban coal from the U.S. energy mix. Your pursuit of this objective will heavily impact those of our states that rely primarily on coal for electricity generation — such a decision should not be made by unaccountable bureaucrats. Your Administration is also pushing for Washington to seize regulatory control of nearly all waters located in the States by expanding the definition of WOTUS. If successful, the federal government would become the arbiters of how our citizens, State highway departments, county flood control and storm water agencies, utilities, irrigation districts, and farmers use their water and their land.

Proposed Carbon Regulations Crippling for Kentucky (SurfKY)

Could Proposed Coal Burning Power Plant Regulations Cripple Kentucky?

“The way it’s proposed will be devastating to the market of coal,” said Hopkins County Judge-Executive Donnie Carroll. “The real nonsense is that we are stressing rules and regulations on our power plants, while foreign countries are buying more coal and building coal-burning power plants.”

Muhlenberg County Judge-Executive Rick Newman said the proposal is not only detrimental to the coal mining jobs but also to the automotive industries, who depend on affordable electricity to fuel factories.

“After the Ford plant in Louisville and Toyota expansion, Kentucky would become the No. 1 automobile manufacturing state in the nation,” said Newman. “If we come along and add those regulations on and the cost of electricity skyrockets, how interested are they going to be in producing autos in Kentucky?”

Speculations about last week’s announcement regarding the EPA proposal to severely limit existing power plant emissions are reverberating through not only through the Kentucky coal fields but also those industries that are dependent on massive amounts of electricity to operate such as the automotive industry, steel mills and aluminum smelters.

It is estimated that as many as 224,000 jobs nationwide could be lost as a direct and indirect result of the EPA proposal, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.

U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield held a press teleconference in reaction to the EPA’s announcement, during which he called the measure an “attempt to bankrupt the coal industry.”

Whitfield, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, said the Subcommittee will hold a hearing to review the EPA’s proposal June 19 in Washington, D.C.

In the teleconference, Whitfield said the 2020 emissions standard set for Kentucky alone could have devastating repercussions for secondary industries that utilize massive amounts of electricity while hitting the middle class hard in its pocketbook.
The John W. Turk Jr. Power Plant in Texarkana might very well be the last coal-fired plant to come online, said Whitfield. Touted as an “ultra-supercritical” unit, the 600-megawatt facility began operation in December 2012.

“That plant is super critical ― the cleanest technology available,” said Whitfield. “And the standard they’ve set for Kentucky alone is below the emissions allowed in that plant. So I can’t tell you how drastically extreme this rule is.”

Whitfield said the rule being adopted by the EPA for existing plants was the extension of President Barack Obama’s war on coal.

“This was primarily because the president of the United States unilaterally, without any input from Congress or anyone else, went to Copenhagen in 2009 and in an international conference, committed America to these arbitrary emissions standards,” said Whitfield. “This president has misled the American people. Ever since he became president, regarding energy, he has been, ‘Oh, we need an all-of-the-above policy.’ But the only fuel source that they are deliberately going after is coal.”

Whitfield said bankrupting coal producers is part of Obama’s agenda, and that Obama wants to be remembered in the world for that.

“I would remind every one of you, Barack Obama said when he was running the first time in an interview with the editorial board of a San Francisco newspaper, he said he would bankrupt the coal industry,” said Whitfield. “To be blunt, this is about his legacy in the international community.”

Whitfield said the emissions coming from the energy sector in America today are the lowest emissions in 20 years. While America has reduced its emissions substantially, European and Asian countries are building coal-burning plants at an astounding rate.

America now exports more coal than it uses, he said.

“(The president) is making us less competitive in the global market place because he wants his legacy of leading the world in reducing the C02 emissions, where America is already ahead of everyone,” said Whitfield.

As expected, top Senate Democrat Harry Reid blocked Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s attempt to proceed with the Coal Country Protection Act last week on the Senate floor.

McConnell’s legislation, which is co-sponsored by several senators including U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, would require certain benchmarks be met before the EPA’s new regulations concerning coal can be implemented.

The reaction was generated by the announcement made by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy Monday targeting existing power plants and their carbon dioxide emissions. The EPA plans to finalize its’ proposal in mid-2015, which would mandate a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions at fossil fuel-burning power plants by 2030.

McConnell also called on the EPA administrator to hold public hearings on the coal regulations in eastern Kentucky.

In a letter to Administrator McCarthy, McConnell wrote:

“As you are aware, last fall your agency held (11) public listening sessions ‘nationally’ to gather information before proposing these regulations. Unfortunately, not one of these sessions was slated for a non-metropolitan city dependent on coal.  As coal employs 7,000 Kentuckians and accounts for over 90 percent of Kentucky’s electricity, I formally invited the EPA to hold an additional listening session in Pikeville, Kentucky ― the heart of coal country ―  which your agency did not honor.”

In the letter, McConnell invited the EPA to hold a hearing in eastern Kentucky and to directly explain to his constituents how the proposed regulations on existing coal-fired power plants will impact Kentucky jobs and the Commonwealth’s power generation.

A sliver of a silver lining for the coal industry and Kentucky coal counties hinges on the fact the revenue from mining coal and the coal severance funds paid to coal counties are bolstered through the sale of coal to overseas consumers.

“The good news is that our coal exports are climbing all the time,” said Newman. “Our coal companies are finding other markets. Hopefully, they can hang in there.”

The EPA proposal on coal-burning power plants would also increase the consumers’ electric rates as those plants scramble to buy and install new technology to meet the standards. When the rates rise, the chances of enticing new industries to the state goes down, said Newman.

“These EPA regulations are not just going to kill coal-burning power plants, it’s the trickle down effect that going to hurt us all,” he said. “Those industries that depend on Kentucky’s affordable electricity are going to be thinking about this when they sell contracts for aluminum or steel. It might be the straw that breaks those camels’ backs.”

See article here.


EPA Climate Regulations = No Impact on Global Temperatures (Cato Institute)

0.02°C Temperature Rise Averted: The Vital Number Missing from the EPA’s “By the Numbers” Fact Sheet

Last week, the Obama Administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled a new set of proposed regulations aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing U. S. power plants. The motivation for the EPA’s plan comes from the President’s desire to address and mitigate anthropogenic climate change.

We hate to be the party poopers, but the new regulations will do no such thing.

The EPA’s regulations seek to limit carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production in the year 2030 to a level 30 percent below what they were in 2005. It is worth noting that power plant CO2 emissions already dropped by about 15% from 2005 to2012, largely, because of market forces which favor less-CO2-emitting natural gas over coal as the fuel of choice for producing electricity. Apparently the President wants to lock in those gains and manipulate the market to see that the same decline takes place in twice the time.  Nothing like government intervention to facilitate market inefficiency. But we digress.

The EPA highlighted what the plan would achieve in their “By the Numbers” Fact Sheet that accompanied their big announcement.

For some reason, they left off their Fact Sheet how much climate change would be averted by the plan. Seems like a strange omission since, after all, without the threat of climate change, there would be no one thinking about the forced abridgement of our primary source of power production in the first place, and the Administration’s new emissions restriction scheme wouldn’t even be a gleam in this or any other president’s eye.

But no worries.  What the EPA left out, we’ll fill in.

Using a simple, publically-available, climate model emulator called MAGICC that was in part developed through support of the EPA, we ran the numbers as to how much future temperature rise would be averted by a complete adoption and adherence to the EPA’s new carbon dioxide restrictions*.

The answer? Less than two one-hundredths of a degree Celsius by the year 2100.

0.018°C to be exact.

We’re not even sure how to put such a small number into practical terms, because, basically, the number is so small as to be undetectable.

Which, no doubt, is why it’s not included in the EPA Fact Sheet.

It is not too small, however, that it shouldn’t play a huge role in every and all discussions of the new regulations.


* Details and Additional Information about our Calculation

We have used the Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change (MAGICC)—a simple climate model emulator that was, in part, developed through support of the EPA—to examine the climate impact of proposed regulations.

MAGICC version 6 is available as an on-line tool.

We analyzed the climate impact of the new EPA regulations by modifying future emissions scenarios that have been established by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to reflect the new EPA proposed emissions targets.

Specifically, the three IPCC scenarios we examined were the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) named RCP4.5, RCP 6.0 and RCP8.5.  RCP4.5 is a low-end emissions pathway, RCP6.0 is more middle of the road, and RCP8.5 is a high-end pathway.

The emissions prescriptions in the RCPs are not broken down on a country by country basis, but rather are defined for country groupings.  The U.S. is included in the OECD90 group.

To establish the U.S. emissions pathway within each RPC, we made the following assumptions:

1) U.S. carbon dioxide emissions make up 50 percent of the OECD90 carbon dioxide emissions.

2) Carbon dioxide emissions from electrical power production make up 40 percent of the total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

Figure 1 shows the carbon dioxide emissions pathways of the original RCPs along with our determination within each of the contribution from U.S. electricity production.

Figure 1. Carbon dioxide emissions pathways defined in, or derived from, the original set of Representative Concentration pathways (RCPs), for the global total carbon dioxide emissions as well as for the carbon dioxide emissions attributable to U.S. electricity production.

As you can pretty quickly tell, the projected contribution of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production to the total global carbon dioxide emissions is vanishingly small.

The new EPA regulations apply to the lower three lines in Figure 1.

To examine the impact of the EPA proposal, we replace the emissions attributable to U.S. power plants in the original RCPs with targets defined in the new EPA regulations. We determined those targets to be (according to the EPA’s Regulatory Impacts Analysis accompanying the regulation), 0.4864 GtC in 2020 and 0.4653 GtC in 2030.  Thereafter, the U.S. power plant emissions were held constant at the 2030 levels until they fell below those levels in the original RCP prescriptions (specifically, that occurred in 2060 in RPC4.5, 2100 in RCP6.0, and sometime after 2150 in RCP8.5).

We then used MAGICC to calculate the rise in global temperature projected to occur between now and the year 2100 when with the original RCPs as well as with the RCPs modified to reflect the EPA proposed regulations (we used the MAGICC default value for the earth’s equilibrium climate sensitivity (3.0°C)).

The output from the six MAGICC runs is depicted as Figure 2.

Figure 2. Global average surface temperature anomalies, 2000-2100, as projected by MAGICC run with the original RCPs as well as with the set of RCPs modified to reflect the EPA 30% emissions reductions from U.S power plants.

In case you can’t tell the impact by looking at Figure 2 (since the lines are basically on top of one another), we’ve summarized the numbers in Table 1.

In Table 2, we quantify the amount of projected temperature rise that is averted by the new EPA regulations.

The rise in projected future temperature rise that is averted by the proposed EPA restrictions of carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants is less than 0.02°C between now and the end of the century assuming the IPCC’s middle-of-the-road future emissions scenario.

While the proposed EPA plan seeks only to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, in practice, the goal is to reduce the burning of coal. Reducing the burning of coal will have co-impacts such as reducing other climatically active trace gases and particulate matter (or its precursors). We did not model the effects of changes in these co-species as sensitivity tests using MAGICC indicate the collective changes in these co-emissions are quite small and largely cancel each other out.

See article here.


Rural Electricity Costs to Soar Under EPA Proposal (Daily Caller)

Rural Americans’ Power Bills Could Skyrocket 40 Percent Due To EPA Rules

President Obama said electricity bills would “necessarily skyrocket” as a result of his energy policies. Rural Americans are about to find out how much.

At least six electric cooperative utilities across the U.S. mid-and-southwest could raise electricity rates up to 40 percent if the Environmental Protection Agency imposes new permitting regulations on coal-fired power plants.

The regulations would cost Deseret Power Electric Cooperative (DPEC) $200 million to install advanced equipment to qualify for a Clean Air Act Title V permit.

DPEC is made up of six rural electrical cooperatives that serve more than 45,000 customers in Utah, Nevada, Wyoming and Colorado. Rural cooperatives have been heavily opposed to excessive EPA regulations targeting coal plants, which they say raise rates for their customers.

“This could be true if EPA requires us to implement new regulations to meet Title V regulations,” Yankton Johnson, spokesman for Moon Lake Electric Association, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Moon Lake is one of the six rural power cooperatives belonging to DPEC.

Obama’s Environmentalist Attack on America (Frontpage Mag)

Apparently the reality that America’s economic output declined by 1 percent in the first quarter, retail and home sales are plummeting, and a record-setting 1 in 8 (or 10 million) American men in their prime working years between ages 25–54 aren’t working or looking for work will be no impediment for a president determined to impose a radical environmentalist agenda on the nation. On Monday, the Obama administration announced the first-of-their-kind national limits on carbon emissions from the nation’s more than 600 coal-fired power plants. The proposed regulation, implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will demand a 30 percent cut in emissions by 2030.

At a Feb. 11, 2014 hearing of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations related to the status of clean coal programs, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) spelled out the real-world consequences of such a plan, explaining that Americans could expect an increase in electricity costs ranging from 40 percent at a coal gasification facility, to as much as 80 percent at a pulverized coal power plant, according to the Department of Energy’s own documentation. The reliably leftist New York Times illuminates the implications, noting that the regulations could lead to the closing of “hundreds” of such facilities.

Unsurprisingly, the effort completely bypasses Congress, undoubtedly because it would be as DOA as it was when the Democratically-controlled legislative branch failed to pass such cap-and-trade legislation in 2010. Thus our constitutionally-comtemptuous president has rendered members of Congress superfluous, even as the EPA becomes their de facto replacement.


NMA Statement on EPA Carbon Regulations

NMA Calls EPA’s Rules for Existing Power Plants a Flawed Approach that Will Raise Rates for Consumers and Businesses; Puts U.S. Electric Grid in Jeopardy

National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn issued the following statement on the unveiling of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed New Source Performance Standard for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal-based power plants that generate 40 percent of the nation’s electricity:

These rules are another step by the administration to take us to a more expensive and less secure energy future. They embody unrealistic measures that move America’s electric grid away from the low cost and reliable power our economy needs to grow.

These regulations, if finalized, would be a loss for American consumers, manufacturers and businesses nationwide, but especially for those in states that rely on low cost electricity from coal. Also on the losing end are middle class and lower-income Americans and retirees on fixed incomes who will bear the brunt of higher power bills and lower economic growth that follow from putting the country on a fixed energy budget.

National Mining Association: There is a better pathway (USA Today)

EPA’s new greenhouse gas regulations are overzealous.

by Hal Quinn

Like Americans everywhere, I envision a stronger economy and quality of life for our children and grandchildren. But contrary to the Environmental Protection Agency’s extreme approach unveiled Monday, we believe there is a better pathway that moves us toward our environmental goals without raising electricity costs, eliminating thousands of jobs and jeopardizing the reliability of the electric grid.

The EPA’s new, overzealous greenhouse gas regulations will force the closure of many of the existing coal-based power plants that currently generate 40% of the nation’s electricity — at the very time that advanced technologies are making America’s fleet of coal-generation plants cleaner and more efficient.

Since 2005, CO2 emissions from coal-based power plants have been reduced by 24%, and the power plants built with today’s new technologies emit 90% fewer traditional pollutants than the plants they replace from 30 years ago.

New Congress Must Rein In Runaway EPA (Newsmax)

The current Congress has abandoned its legislative and oversight responsibilities as established by constitutional separation of powers protections in allowing unelected executive branch agency officials to impose de facto laws through regulatory fiat. None is more extreme in such authority overreach than the EPA.

EPA’s congressional circumvention actions under the Obama administration are becoming more and more extreme at a faster and faster pace. Much of this applies junk-science arguments that mischaracterize human CO2 emissions as a deleterious climate-changing “pollutant” under auspices of its Clean Air Act.