Monthly Archives: February 2015

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

EPA Plan Will Lead to Fewer Jobs and Higher Electricity Rates

Via The Houston Chronicle: 

Texas’ balanced energy portfolio is what drives our state’s economic growth and provides job security to millions of Texans.

Texas energy jobs aren’t just in oil fields, mines, and power plants. The affordable electricity rates provided by our diverse energy supply ensure that other employers, such as those in our vast manufacturing and technology industries, maintain and grow their operations in Texas. Our diverse energy mix also keeps residential electricity bills low, ensuring that more money stays in the pockets of hardworking Texans.

EPA has taken direct aim at Texas, imposing burdens far greater than any other state. The “Clean Power Plan,” a proposal announced last June by EPA, would require a 38 percent reduction in Texas’ carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 2030. Though Texas’ carbon dioxide emissions rate is lower than the national average, EPA is attempting to force Texas to shoulder a disproportionate share of the nation’s reductions, which will be greater than those of 27 other states combined.

EPA has predicted that over half of Texas’ coal generation will have to be shut down under the proposed plan, with plant closures across the state. What does this means for Texas? Lost jobs, higher electricity rates and greater chances of rolling blackouts.

A 2014 University of North Texas study found that the Texas coal industry provides a total economic benefit of over $7 billion annually, supports over 24,000 jobs that pay over $1.8 billion, and contributes over $690 million in state and local taxes. Losing those economic benefits is only the tip of the iceberg of the impact of EPA’s rules on the Texas economy, however, as the biggest economic impact will come in the form of higher energy bills.

By 2020, EPA’s rules are projected to increase annual power and gas prices in Texas by $42 billion and nationally by $284 billion. This will lead to a 54 percent increase in household electricity and gas bills, forcing the average Texas household to spend an additional $1,050 per year on electricity and gas. The impact to large consumers of electricity will be much more dramatic, especially in the manufacturing and petrochemical sectors of the Texas economy.

The Clean Power Plan will fail to provide any meaningful benefits to the U.S. or Texas. President Obama has pledged to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025, which he claims prompted China’s pledge to peak skyrocketing carbon dioxide emissions by “around 2030.” While advertised by the administration as a major step forward, China and the rest of the developing world will continue to increase carbon emissions so that reductions here will be dwarfed by increases abroad. In fact, by 2030, all of the projected CPP emission reductions will be offset by Chinese emissions in just 13½ days.

We do not want to return to rolling blackouts or large-scale outages, as we saw in Texas in February 2011, when a mix of a severe arctic blast and a sharp rise in electrical demand forced ERCOT to initiate rolling blackouts temporarily.

We cannot control the weather. But we can control policy.

Affordable and reliable electricity is the backbone of Texas’ economy and our economic prosperity is contingent upon the adoption of sensible policies that maximize the use of our state’s abundant, diverse and affordable energy portfolio, including oil, natural gas, coal, and renewables. This balanced portfolio, based on free market principles and a sound regulatory framework, is critical to Texas’ continued profitability, competitiveness and economic success.

President Obama’s unworkable plan would be economically disastrous for Texas and poses very real electric reliability concerns. Letting Washington bureaucrats decide how Texas generates electricity will have catastrophic consequences. The Clean Power Plan is all pain, no gain.

See the article here.

EPA Regs Would Jeopardize Stable Power Supply

Via the Craig Daily Press:

The clash between environmental and energy reality versus idealism reached a crossroads in Denver this week when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) convened in a technical conference on Feb. 25. The meeting concerned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s self-titled “Clean Power Plan,” which would effectively regulate-away the ability of existing power plants to produce the affordable electricity on which countless Coloradans rely to heat and cool their homes and keep the lights on. While we should be working toward creating win-win outcomes through an all-of-the-above energy solution and responsible environmental safeguards, all the focus so far by the Administration and their supporters has been on picking winners and losers, embracing only what the EPA anoints as “clean” energy. Now, FERC will finally have a chance to weigh in on “power” — what it takes to reliably operate our increasingly strained electricity delivery system under EPA’s overreaching plan.

In Colorado, we’ve successfully maintained a diverse energy portfolio that has kept rates reasonable overall, provided a stable power supply and a healthy, clean environment. EPA’s plan, however, would slash coal use an additional 37 percent, which is a readily available resource Colorado relies upon for more than 60 percent of our electricity. EPA promises that boosting renewable generation an additional 36 percent will offset this drastic cut when coupled with forcing Colorado families and businesses, many of which are already struggling to get by on tight budgets, to invest hundreds of billions to substantially reduce their own electricity use. But intermittent renewables like wind and solar cannot substitute for baseload power — the electricity we need day-in, day-out, rain or shine, breezy or not. While phasing out traditional energy resources to the extent EPA would like will have virtually no effect on global greenhouse gas emissions, it does spell serious trouble for the U.S. power grid.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is confident that her agency’s plan will work. But seeing that electricity can reliably flow to where it’s sorely needed is not her agency’s area of expertise. In fact, EPA has a woeful record of accurately predicting the impacts of its regulations on the nation’s power grid. That falls under FERC’s purview, but so far EPA has crafted its regulatory plan without any meaningful involvement from FERC. That is simply unacceptable since FERC’s purpose is to guarantee we have a reliable supply of electricity.

FERC now must get involved because EPA chose to go at it alone without consideration that its proposed actions would drastically jeopardize our power supply. Congressional inquiry has determined EPA did not share any meaningful details of its plan with FERC and, more important, didn’t consult FERC about whether or not its regulatory agenda would impact the reliability of our power grid. Many experts agree that EPA’s lopsided focus threatens reliable operation of an energy delivery system made more brittle by a cascade of EPA regulations that failed to account for their cumulative consequences.

Be at home or on the factory floor, we summon electricity with the flick of a switch or punch of a power button. Assuring something happens when we do, involves thousands of hardworking Coloradans operating a staggeringly complex energy delivery infrastructure that not only includes the wires we see and pipelines we don’t, but power plant switchyards we never think about and dispatch centers few of us even know exist.

This is a world of technology that anticipates our need for electricity an instant before we want it there, balances fluctuations in the availability of resources in the nano-seconds it takes to ramp up an alternative source — then back it off or send it somewhere else the instant the situation changes. EPA’s short-sighted regulations up-end that system, and system failure disrupts our nation’s lifeblood.

Congressman Scott Tipton, R-Colo., represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, and serves as the vice chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus.

See the article.

Obama’s Energy Policies Hurt Working Families

Via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

It has been more than six years since Barack Obama bluntly stated before the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board that during his administration, “if someone wants to build a new coal-fired power plant they can, but it will bankrupt them because they will be charged a huge sum for all the greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

A few short months later, President Obama took office and thus began a systematic decimation of coal communities and the hard-working men and women who have dedicated their lives to blessing our nation with the manifold benefits from affordable and reliable coal-based electricity.

Unfortunately for the once-prosperous middle class, this is one campaign promise President Obama kept. In June of last year, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed what is expected to be the most costly regulation in its history. The plan the EPA put forth stipulates a completely unrealistic timeline that poses dire consequences for America’s workers, their families and their communities.

Even more tragic for working families is the acquiescence we have seen from some in the labor community, most recently in comments to the Environmental Protection Agency from the United Steelworkers. Despite the acknowledgment that workers at eight coal-fired power plants will be directly impacted by this regulation, the USW mentioned that “we believe actions to curb U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases are necessary.” While the comments also make some valid points as to problems with the regulation, the USW ultimately puts misplaced faith in EPA to develop a “well-crafted rule” with “job-focused supporting policies.”

Neither is a possibility as EPA’s past behavior gives no hope that things will change in the future. The EPA has crafted an unworkable, overreaching proposal that will endanger the reliability of our electric grid, burden working families with more lost jobs and higher electricity prices and neuter any hope of a manufacturing renaissance in the United States.

The United Steelworkers should stand in opposition to these job-killing policies, or President Obama and the EPA will keep pursuing their radical environmental agenda while America’s working families pay the price.

STATE REP. JEFF PYLE
Chairman
House Coal Caucus
Harrisburg

Mr. Pyle of Ford City is a Republican representing the 60th Legislative District.

Read the article here.

“Clean Power” Rule Could Cause Electricity Shortage

Via Real Clear Politics:

As President Obama looks to implement strict rules on carbon emissions, coal-powered electrical generation is on the chopping block. For those worried about climate change, coal is a convenient target. Unfortunately, a plan by the Environmental Protection Agency to shutter hundreds of domestic, coal-fired power plants has been hastily thrown together, with no confirmed alternatives for steady, reliable power generation.

What’s at stake is “grid reliability” — whether supply exists to meet the current, massive U.S. demand for electricity. For much of the country, the EPA’s mandate is troubling because, right now, roughly 40 percent of electricity in the United States comes from coal-fired generation.

The importance of coal in generating electricity was demonstrated very clearly last winter when coal-fired plants worked overtime to heat homes and businesses during a deep freeze. In fact, American Electric Power, a major utility company, reported that 90 percent of its coal plants slated for retirement under pending EPA rules were running at full speed just to meet peak demand.

Despite record-setting production in the Marcellus Shale formation and elsewhere, natural gas simply can’t compensate for a shortage of coal plants. This is due in part to a lack of infrastructure to deliver gas where it’s needed. But more importantly, natural gas has already been prioritized for home use, not power generation.

A recent report from PJM Interconnection, the regional power transmission group for a dozen states (including Pennsylvania) and the District of Columbia, concluded that without coal plants there could be insufficient electricity to meet peak winter demand.

Under the EPA’s “Clean Power Plan,” consumers will undoubtedly pay higher electricity bills. But the more tragic problem is the possibility of widespread power outages during the coldest parts of winter.

These worrisome scenarios have so far been swept aside by the federal government. The shift away from coal is moving ahead with no regard for the consequences. And so, in light of the recent PJM report, the EPA’s regulatory plan amounts to very reckless toying with the nation’s power grid.

The truth is that there’s simply no way around the use of coal to help ensure affordable and reliable power in the current market. That’s why state utility commissions and regulators from 22 states have sent formal comments to the EPA expressing concerns that the Clean Power Plan will jeopardize reliable and affordable electricity. That’s why the U.S. needs a diversified power portfolio that includes coal in order to meet the nation’s electricity needs.

Those seeking to eliminate coal under the guise of improving the environment need to adopt a realistic plan. Modern coal-fired generators are cleaner now than they ever have been. And with technology under development today, even cleaner coal plants will soon be attainable. Any move away from coal that can add sufficient alternative sources of power generation will require many years to implement. Thus, it makes no sense for the EPA to rush ahead with a foolhardy plan that will effectively undermine the ability to generate reliable and affordable electricity in America.

 Read the article on the site.

Kansas Bills Aim to Stall EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Via the Lawrence Journal-World:

 — A Kansas Senate committee plans on advancing a bill next week that would delay, and possibly even prevent, implementing new federal clean air regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions from power plants.

The main question is which bill the committee will advance.

The Senate Utilities Committee heard testimony this week on two bills dealing with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed new Clean Power Plan, which is scheduled to take effect in June.

Those rules will require states to adopt plans for cutting carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent from their 2005 levels by 2030. Those plans are to include steps for replacing fossil fuel generating capacity with renewable energy, as well as efficiency measures to reduce demand for electricity.

State and industry officials have expressed concerns about the proposed rules because they give states only one year to develop and submit their plans and they call for such steep reductions that they could force utilities to retire some coal- or gas-fired plants before those utilities have time to build renewable generating capacity to replace them.

In public comments to the EPA, the Kansas Corporation Commission estimated the rules would cost Kansas consumers between $5 billion and $15 billion.

On Tuesday, the committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 151, which is supported by the Kansas Corporation Commission.

It would require the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to notify the KCC before it enters into any agreements with utilities establishing carbon dioxide emission standards. It would also require the KCC to conduct investigations to determine the lowest-cost options for acquiring power from other sources and to ensure that the recommended options maintain the reliability of the state’s power grid.

On Thursday, the committee heard testimony on another bill, SB 170, authored by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political group founded with support from the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

That bill would prohibit both the KCC and KDHE from even drafting a state plan before all of the litigation surrounding the rules has been resolved. It would also require legislative approval for any such plan, and it would cap any rate increases related to greenhouse gas regulations to 1.5 percent.

Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, who serves on the committee, said either bill would put the state at risk of having the EPA impose its own rules on Kansas by blocking state agencies from responding to the EPA rules in a timely manner.

“Everything in these two bills delays that and makes it harder,” Francisco said.

Rodger Wood, a lobbyist for Americans for Prosperity, said Kansas consumers have a lot at stake in the new rules.

“Both the cost and the reliability issues are going to impact every Kansas resident and every Kansas business that relies on electricity,” Woods said.

Officials from the state’s two largest utility companies, Westar Energy and Kansas City Power and Light, gave neutral testimony on the bills. But they warned that any delay in the adoption of a state plan could prompt the EPA to impose its own emissions reduction plan on the state.

“We feel like if we’re given enough time, we can do a pretty good job of complying with this,” said Brad Loveless, executive director of environmental services at Westar.

Meanwhile, a number of environmental groups are opposing the bill, saying it would only delay responding to a much more important issue, global climate change.

“The Clean Power Plan is based on the fact — the fact — that the earth is getting warmer due to human activities,” said Rabbi Moti Rieber of the group Kansans for Clean Energy.

Committee chairman Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, said he plans for the panel will consider amendments and vote on sending one of the bills to the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.

See the full article.

Indiana Residents Could Face Winter Power Shortages Under New ‘Clean Power Plan’

Via the Tribune-Star:

By Terry Jarrett

Special to the Tribune-Star

Right now, Indiana gets 83 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants. But what would happen if the state were suddenly forced to seek all of its electricity from other sources? Could Indiana experience crippling shortages of power during peak use, with the cost of household power jumping significantly?

That’s the baffling scenario looming ahead as President Obama looks to implement strict rules on carbon emissions. Coal-powered electrical generation is now on the chopping block, thanks to a hastily assembled plan by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to shutter hundreds of domestic, coal-fired power plants.

What’s at stake is “grid reliability,” whether supply exists to meet the current, massive U.S. demand for electricity. For much of the country, the EPA’s mandate is troubling because, right now, roughly 40 percent of electricity in the United States comes from coal-fired generation.

Under new regulations from the EPA, many of these plants would be effectively forced out of operation. And to date, no one is saying how that power will be otherwise produced. Wind, solar, and natural gas have all been suggested, but none is capable of providing reliable and affordable electricity like coal can. Some states are able to rely on alternative sources, like wind and hydropower, but that simply isn’t an option for much of the country.

The importance of coal in generating electricity was all too clearly demonstrated last winter, when coal-fired plants worked overtime to heat homes and businesses during a deep freeze. In fact, American Electric Power, a major utility company, reported that 90 percent of its coal plants slated for retirement under pending EPA rules were running at full speed just to meet peak demand.

Despite record-setting production in the Marcellus Shale and elsewhere, natural gas simply can’t compensate for a shortage of coal plants. This is due in part to a lack of infrastructure to deliver gas where it’s needed. But more importantly, natural gas has already been prioritized for home use, not power generation.

A recent report from PJM Interconnection, the regional power transmission group for 13 states, including Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, concluded that without coal plants there could be insufficient electricity

Click here to see the full article.

Corp. Comm. Chair: Clean-Air Plan Could Threaten State’s Power Supply

WASHINGTON –  There is “simply no way” Arizona can comply with proposed new clean-air rules without “irreparable disruption” to the state power system’s reliability, said Susan Bitter Smith, chair of the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Susan Bitter Smith’s testimony to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission came Thursday at that agency’s hearing on the Clean Power Plan proposed by another federal office, the Environmental Protection Agency.

Bitter Smith claimed that in order to meet the goals in the EPA proposal, which targets greenhouse-gas emissions, every coal-fired power plant in the state that is not on tribal land would have to shut down by 2020. That would drive up costs to consumers and leave the state’s power system in a precarious position, she testified.

“If we had to meet the EPA’s standards as they’re required right now … we couldn’t keep the lights on in the state,” said Bitter Smith, part of a panel testifying on environmental regulations and electric reliability.

The EPA said in a statement Friday that the agency is listening to all concerns about the Clean Power Plan before issuing a final rule, which is expected this summer.

“EPA has received more than 3.5 million comments on the proposed Clean Power Plan,” the agency’s statement said. “We will take all comments – including issues related to reliability – into careful consideration as we work toward a final rule.”

The proposal, released last summer, aims to cut nationwide carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030, with specific emission-reduction targets set for each state.

The goal for Arizona is a cut of 52 percent in the next 15 years, second-steepest in the country after only Washington state. The bulk of those reductions would have to come in the next five years.

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Bitter Smith said Arizona appears to have been subjected to “disparate treatment” by the EPA, noting the high reduction goal and pointing out that the state falls roughly in the middle of states in terms of carbon emissions.

She said the plan would require all Arizona coal-fired plants to close, heavily impacting the reliability of the state’s electrical grid, especially in the summer months when demand is high. That would also leave electricity ratepayers with a lost investment of $3 billion in fairly young coal plants.

Replacing those plants with natural gas brings steep financial and environmental costs, Bitter Smith said, for a fuel that fluctuates in price. She said the plan would also create greater reliance on the Palo Verde nuclear power plant makes the state’s electricity more vulnerable to natural disaster and terrorist attacks.

“I think there was a misunderstanding about the impacts on Arizona and a miscalculation in terms of the percentage of the whole that coal services,” she said. “We do have coal dominant supplies but we also have coal plants that are relatively new and coal plants that already have carbon emissions reductions in place.”

It’s not the first time an Arizona official has testified against the Clean Power Plan: Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Henry Darwin said in January that the proposal would require closing coal-fired plants, and said the state needed more flexibility to meet the goals.

EPA said at the time that it is “not mandating the retirement of any coal plants,” but was leaving those decisions up to state regulators.

Darwin said then that he hoped to be able to work with the EPA to revise the plan. And Bitter Smith said Thursday that she has given up hope that the state can work with the EPA to come up with a plan that will work for both parties.

“As residents watch this plan unfold, it sounds like it’s very complicated,” Bitter Smith said. “But the bottom line is our goal is to make sure we can turn the lights on every day at an affordable rate and not end up with rolling blackouts and rules we can’t comply with.”

Read the full article.

Montana, Tribe Fight EPA’s Proposed Carbon-Dioxide Rules

Via Heatland.org:

The State of Montana and the Crow Nation have filed joint comments with the Environmental Protection Agency disputing EPA’s authority to impose new regulations on carbon dioxide emissions. Montana supplies coal to other states across the country.

The EPA is proposing new regulations under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to force states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and Crow Nation Chairman Darrin Old Coyote argue the regulations would cost Montana jobs and place economic hardship on Crow Nation.

Old Coyote said the regulations would cripple the largest source of jobs on the reservation, which already suffers a staggering 47 percent unemployment rate.

“Coal mining on our reservation provides family-wage jobs and benefits for our members,” said Chairman Old Coyote in a statement. “The Crow Nation can, and should, be self-sufficient, and developing our resources is a significant step in that direction. Since the proposed regulations will penalize our customers in the Midwest and shrink our market, they could have severe impacts on our livelihood.”

Comments sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on December 1 explain the reservation contains two million acres in subsurface mineral rights, including an estimated nine billion tons of coal. The Crow Nation has developed only a limited amount of its resource by leasing a portion of its coal reserves for 40 continuous years.

Claimed Overreach

Also joining the state of Montana are attorneys general from 16 other states who filed separate comments arguing the EPA’s proposal is illegal and exceeds federal authority granted in the Clean Air Act.

“The EPA is attempting to use the Clean Air Act to bypass Congress and impose a federal energy policy on the states,” Attorney General Fox said in a statement. “Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled and an EPA legal memo concedes that the agency doesn’t have the authority to regulate existing power plant emissions under rule 111(d).”

Furthermore, as the Crow Nation’s comments note, the Obama administration failed to abide by its own executive order requiring consultation with tribes before any agency proposes rules possibly impacting tribes. Crow Nation was not consulted before the EPA proposed the new regulations.

“In short, EPA did not consult with the Crow Nation, did not consider the economic impacts on the Crow Nation, and did not provide a less intrusive alternative to the severe effect on the Crow Nation of this Proposed Rule,” the tribe’s comments state.

The tribe also noted in its comment, “The Crow citizens are also citizens of the state of Montana, which shares the Crow administration’s goals and desires for the Crow people.”

‘Unacceptable Economic Harm’

“Our objective is to persuade governors across the country this carbon reduction plan will impose unacceptable economic harm on their citizens and to reject the plan in its entirety,” said Luke Popovich, a spokesperson for the National Mining Association.

Along those lines, National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn spoke at the United States Energy Association’s energy outlook conference on January 21. He addressed the future of coal in the face of the new regulations for both new and existing power plants the EPA is expected to finalize later this summer.

“But EPA’s plan for existing plants could be short-circuited by a pending case in the DC Circuit,” Quinn told Environment and Climate News. “Murray Energy and 11 states claim EPA cannot regulate power plants using Clean Air Act § 111(d) new source performance standards because they are already regulated under the §112 for hazardous air pollutants.

“Many legal observers believed the case was premature and the question presented would need to await litigation over the final CO2 rule. To their surprise, or disappointment, the court has asked the parties to brief this important question. It is entirely possible the court may decide to dismiss the case as premature. But there are compelling reasons for the court to decide sooner than later the threshold question of EPA’s authority to regulate power plant CO2 emissions in the first instance,” Quinn added.

Read the article.

Polar Vortex 2015 – Close to the Edge (Again!)

Last winter was one of the harshest, hitting millions of Americans with spikes in their winter utility bills. Unfortunately, here we are, one year later, facing yet another polar vortex. Meteorologists predict some of the coldest blasts of frigid temperatures over the next several days, which has energy experts worried about the impact on consumers’ utility bills, as well as on the reliability of the electric grid we all depend on.

As Polar Vortex 2015 moves across the country, consumers could face spikes in electricity bills, with seniors on fixed incomes and lower income Americans hit the hardest. According to a recent survey, high energy prices already have forced more than 40 percent of low-income seniors to go without needed medical or dental care, and even to skip meals or shut off the heat on cold days.

It may seem odd to be predicting another energy price spike since oil, natural gas and coal prices have all fallen recently. But it’s not the market that will be driving prices higher. It’s politics.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from America’s power plants by 30 percent by 2030. The U.S. relies on coal for 40 percent of our electricity because it is a reliable and affordable energy source that keeps our electricity prices low and predictable. Already, previous EPA regulations are forcing the closure of many of the coal-fired power plants that utilities have relied on to meet the surge in demand during cold winter months. EPA’s costly power plan will shut down another sizable segment of that low-cost electricity if the plan goes forward as proposed.

Despite this plan’s costly impact, EPA cannot claim that the rule will make any material difference in global temperatures. Independent analyses show that at best, the plan will reduce global concentrations of carbon dioxide by less than 1 percent and global temperatures by less than one hundredth of a degree.

A growing number of experts, including overseers of the nation’s electricity grid, regional power transmission authorities, power plant operators and energy economists, are all warning that the EPA’s carbon emissions rule will lead to a less diverse supply of electricity, weaker grid reliability and higher energy bills for all Americans.

The Southwest Power Pool, grid operator for nine Midwestern states, warns that EPA’s plan will result in cascading outages and voltage collapse in six of the eight states where it operates the electric grid. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator forecasts that the power reserves needed for 15 Midwestern states will fall below safe margins by 2016, and slip further after that. More and more states are concluding that the EPA’s costly power plan will not work and are urging their elected officials not to agree to bad public policies that could do more harm than help. To get involved and take action, visit www.CountonCoal.org. Tell your governor to “Just Say No” to EPA’s costly power plan.

The National Mining Association (NMA) is the voice of the American mining industry in Washington, D.C. Membership includes more than 325 corporations involved in all aspects of coal and solid minerals production including coal, metal and industrial mineral producers, mineral processors, equipment manufacturers, state mining associations, bulk transporters, engineering firms, consultants, financial institutions and other companies that supply goods and services to the mining industry.

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Worst Week in Washington: EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Officials decry plan as “physically impossible,” “beyond what is legally permissible,” and “choice for many may be between paying an electric bill or paying a mortgage”

EPA’s Clean Power Plan came under intense scrutiny this week in the nation’s capital as regulators and stakeholders met to discuss the legality, cost, and feasibility of EPA’s proposed plan and its impacts on ratepayers and electric reliability.

On Monday and Tuesday, state and utility regulators gathered at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Winter Meeting and expressed broad concerns about the proposal, including EPA’s unworkable compliance timelines and unachievable emissions targets.

I think it’s pretty clear this is not workable for us,” said Wyoming Public Service Commissioner Alan Minier. EPA’s timelines were described as “physically impossible” and “completely unattainable” by Texas Commissioner Kenneth Anderson.

On Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held its first technical conference on the Clean Power Plan. FERC has decided to convene a series of technical conferences at the request of House and Senate committee leaders to evaluate the potential reliability concerns associated with EPA’s proposal.

At the conference, Jay Morrison, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), urged FERC not to be a “potted plant” and sit by as EPA attempts to impose sweeping new regulatory requirements on the nation’s electricity sector. In submitted comments to the commission, Morrison expressed concerns about the high cost of EPA’s plan for consumers: “It may be possible to ‘keep the lights on’ from a physics and technical standpoint, but the economics and the ultimate cost to the consumer in many cases will be prohibitive. The choice for many may be between paying an electric bill or paying the mortgage.”

American Public Power Association  (APPA) President and CEO Susan Kelly also urged the FERC commissioners to step up their involvement in EPA’s rulemaking or risk being “chopped liver.” She said to the commissioners: “[The EPA has] come and swept you into the maelstrom, whether you want to be there or not.” She also raised questions about the legality of EPA’s proposed rule, stating, “Its requirements go beyond what is legally permissible under Section 111(d) and conflict substantially with the authority of other federal, state, and local governmental entities.”

Gerry Cauley, President and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), stated that “EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan has the potential to significantly affect the nation’s electric generation resource mix, infrastructure needs, markets and regulatory regimes. Individually and collectively, these impacts raise important considerations for reliability of the bulk power system.

The concerns heard at this week’s events underscore the fundamental flaws identified in the committee’s oversight of EPA’s proposed plan. As federal and state energy regulators publicly raise their concerns, it has become clear that EPA’s proposed rule is unworkable, outside the agency’s statutory authority, and would result in higher prices for consumers, more job losses, and reduced electric reliability. EPA’s proposal will be subject to further scrutiny next week when EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy comes to testify in front of the Subcommittees on Energy and Power and Environment and the Economy

See more here.

GUEST VIEW: EPA Regulations Will Cost State Jobs

Via The Lacrosse Tribune:

Here in Wisconsin, we do not have the luxury of Arizona’s sun exposure for solar power, nor do we have the open plains like Iowa and the Dakotas to yield a high margin of wind energy. In Wisconsin, we rely on coal, and it accounts for over 60 percent of our energy production in this state.

On Jan. 28, the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities, along with the Senate Committee on Public Works, held a joint informational hearing to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed guidelines for states to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing electric generation units under the Clean Air Act. According to the EPA, under the guidance of President Obama, the plan will cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 across the nation and by 34 percent in Wisconsin.

Throughout the hearing, we heard a number of alarming issues with the proposed plan. Specifically, we were told of the negative impact it will have on Wisconsin’s business community, as well as the average ratepayer. According to the Department of Natural Resources, as well as the Public Service Commission, this rule alone could cost Wisconsinites somewhere between $3.3 billion and $13.4 billion. Not only is this an astronomical cost that will put thousands of jobs at risk, but the timeline put in place by the EPA is unrealistic and unattainable.

According to testimony from the Wisconsin Utilities Association, $1.5 billion has been invested just since 2005 by Wisconsin’s largest utilities to improve air emissions from coal-fired plants. Under the plan, these advancements are not counted towards our reduction in emissions moving forward. Due to our advancements in protecting our environment and the investments already made, our most dependable source of energy, coal, could be largely eliminated over the next 15 years. The biggest contributor to our overall energy portfolio will be scaled back and reliability concerns will undoubtedly rise.

We appreciate the administration working to protect our environment, but as legislators we must ask at what cost? The National Economic Research Associates states that the global impact of these new regulations will slow global warming by less than two one-hundredths of a degree and reduce the sea level rise by one one-hundredth of an inch by year 2050. Of course our environment is important to the lives of Americans, but shouldn’t we try to find a balance between that and creating a positive business climate where job creation can flourish?

Wisconsin ranks second in manufacturing per capita in the country, with roughly 458,000 citizens working in the manufacturing field. Unfortunately, this rule will cause harm to a business sector that accounts for nearly 19 percent of Wisconsin’s gross domestic product. According to a recent release by The Beacon Hill Institute and the John K. MacIver Institute, the average industrial ratepayer in Wisconsin can be expected to pay an additional $105,094 by the year 2030. Further, nearly 21,000 jobs may be lost in the state and the disposable income of Wisconsin’s ratepayers will potentially drop $1.82 billion.

At a time when our country is still moving out of a recession, we must not look at miniscule environmental victories decades down the road. The issues that were raised at the hearing cannot go unnoticed and these regulations must be addressed prior to implementation.

In Gov. Scott Walker’s State of the State address, he pledged to join Governors across the country to initiate lawsuits against this massive overreach. I believe it might be in the best interest of the states to begin working on a plan. However, I stand firmly with Walker’s opposition against Obama’s war on the manufacturing and coal industries.

While the federal government continues to hamper our private sector with burdensome regulations like this, Wisconsin will continue to do its best to provide a welcoming business climate.

Read the full article.

Georgians Could Face Winter Power Shortages Under ‘Clean Power Plan’

Via The Marietta Daily Journal:

Right now, Georgia gets 34 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants. But what would happen if the state were suddenly forced to seek all of its electricity from other sources? Could Georgia experience shortages of power during peak use, with the cost of household power jumping significantly?

That’s the baffling scenario looming ahead as President Obama looks to implement strict rules on carbon emissions. Coal-powered electrical generation is now on the chopping block, thanks to a hastily assembled plan by the Environmental Protection Agency to shutter hundreds of domestic, coal-fired power plants.

What’s at stake is “grid reliability,” whether supply exists to meet the current, massive U.S. demand for electricity. For much of the country, the EPA’s mandate is troubling because, right now, roughly 40 percent of electricity in the United States comes from coal-fired generation.

Under new regulations from the EPA, many of these plants would be effectively forced out of operation. And to date, no one is saying how that power will be otherwise produced. Wind, solar and natural gas have all been suggested, but none is capable of providing reliable and affordable electricity like coal can.

Some states are able to rely on alternative sources, like wind and hydropower, but that simply isn’t an option for much of the country.

The importance of coal in generating electricity was all too clearly demonstrated last winter, when coal-fired plants worked overtime to heat homes and businesses during a deep freeze. In fact, American Electric Power, a major utility company, reported that 90 percent of its coal plants slated for retirement under pending EPA rules were running at full speed just to meet peak demand.

Despite record-setting production in the Marcellus Shale and elsewhere, natural gas simply can’t compensate for a shortage of coal plants. This is due in part to a lack of infrastructure to deliver gas where it’s needed. But more importantly, natural gas has already been prioritized for home use, not power generation.

A recent report from PJM Interconnection, the regional power transmission group for 13 states, including Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, concluded that without coal plants there could be insufficient electricity to meet peak winter demand.

Under the EPA’s so called “Clean Power Plan,” consumers will undoubtedly pay higher electricity bills. But the more tragic problem is the possibility of widespread power outages during the coldest parts of winter.

These worrisome scenarios have so far been swept aside by the federal government. The shift away from coal is simply moving ahead with no regard for the consequences. And so, in light of the recent PJM report, the EPA’s regulatory plan amounts to very reckless toying with the nation’s power grid.

The truth is that there’s simply no way around the use of coal to help ensure affordable and reliable power in the current market. That’s why state utility commissions and regulators from 22 states have sent formal comments to the EPA expressing concerns that the Clean Power Plan will jeopardize reliable and affordable electricity. That’s why the U.S. needs a diversified power portfolio that includes coal to meet the nation’s electricity needs.

Terry Jarrett served as a Missouri Public Service commissioner and chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Committee on Critical Infrastructure.

Read the article.

 

Study: Obama Climate Agenda Will Cost Alabama Over 10k Manufacturing Jobs

Via Yellowhammer News:

A newly released study by the Heritage Foundation estimates that Alabama will lose 10,718 jobs as a result of the Obama Administration’s climate policies. That represents a reduction of 4.14 percent of the state’s total number of manufacturing jobs, making Alabama the seventh most negatively impacted state in the country, by percentage.

“Every state would experience overwhelming negative impacts as a result of these regulations, but especially those with higher-than-average employment in manufacturing and mining,” saidNick Loris, one of the Heritage Foundation energy experts who authored the study.

For context, the massive $600 million Airbus manufacturing facility in Mobile, Ala., will sustain up to 1,000 jobs at full capacity. In other words, the Heritage study predicts that President Obama’s climate policies will ultimately cost Alabama the equivalent of losing 10 Airbus-sized manufacturing projects.

Alabama’s large coal mining industry will undoubtedly take a significant hit if the administration’s proposed environmental regulations continue to be implemented, but the Heritage study paints an even bleaker picture by noting the subsequent impact on manufacturers.

“Our analysis shows that it’s not just coal-country that’s hit hard by the federal government’s climate regulations,” said Loris. “Because America’s industrial base relies on affordable, reliable energy, these regulations would deal a crushing blow to the manufacturing sector

Tiffany Bittner, the executive director of Coal Jobs Count, a grassroots advocacy organization whose stated goal is to “fight the overreach of EPA regulations,” made a similar point during a statewide bus tour late last year.

“More than 16,000 jobs are tied to Alabama’s coal industry,” she said. “Alabama families and businesses depend on coal for affordable power rates. If Washington takes away the state’s coal industry, those jobs and affordable power bills disappear.”


Estimated job losses broken down by Alabama congressional districts:
AL-01: -1,276
AL-02: -1,418
AL-03: -1,788
AL-04: -2,050
AL-05: -1,809
AL-06: -1,167
AL-07: -1,209
TOTAL: -10,718


The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to finalize its carbon regulations on existing power plants by mid-summer. Their goal is to force states to cut emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

 The EPA begins by setting target emissions caps for each state, then tasks the states with crafting plans for complying with the guidelines.

EPA Press Secretary Liz Purchia said states and businesses are pleased with the flexibility they are being given to implement the new regulations.

“[B]usinesses are concerned about the immediate and long-term implications of climate change,” she said, adding that “tackling climate change is one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century.”

But the Heritage Foundation’s energy experts believe the flexibility being touted by the EPA will do little to alleviate the costs involved with the regulations.

“To attract state buy-in, the EPA is touting these regulations as being cooperative with the states and awarding the states flexibility in crafting the regulations,” Loris said. “But flexibility would merely shift the costs around, not prevent them from happening.”

“Instead of trying to cash in and protect special interests, both federal and state legislators should flat out reject the administration’s plan,” he concluded. “That is the only true way to protect the families and business owners in their states.”

See the full article.

 

Separating Coal Miners from Their Jobs Is No Solution for Coal Communities

Via Roll Call

By Hal Quinn

Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and his colleagues at the Center for American Progress believe the answer for unemployed coal miners is separating more of them from their jobs (“Congress Should Correct Distortions in the Coal Market and Invest in Struggling Coal Communities,” Roll Call, Feb. 11, 2015). Increasing the cost of mining coal and the price of electricity generated from it will no more help stricken coal communities than medieval physicians helped the sick by bleeding them.

For some time CAP has been marketing a policy package designed to increase the cost of coal mining in the Western United States. The newest version features a wrapper exploiting the misery thrust upon Appalachian coal miners by government policies long championed by CAP. Seeking to divert blame, CAP claims federal coal leasing policies have created market distortions placing Appalachian coal miners at a competitive disadvantage. This fictional narrative is belied by facts revealing that federal coal leasing policies pose no threat to Appalachian coal miners. Rather, the administration’s job-crushing policies aimed at all coal mining have had an outsized impact on Appalachia.

What CAP calls inequities are actually differences in geology and scale. Coal seams in the Powder River Basin are thick and extensive allowing large scale operations with lower mining costs. On the other hand, Powder River coal has lower energy content and travels much further to potential customers. Indeed, the transportation cost for Powder River coal comprises on average 60 percent of the final delivered cost — three times more than Appalachian coal.

When it comes to leasing and royalties, once again Powder River coal is at a distinct disadvantage. The 12.5 percent royalty rate set by law is substantially higher — about 40 percent more — than the prevailing rate for private Appalachian coal. And coal companies mining Powder River coal pay substantial upfront and non-recoupable bonus bids for the right to mine, a cost rarely, if ever, faced by Appalachian producers.
Royalties are paid on the value of coal measured by the price received from the initial sale — a commercial norm reflected typically in private, state and federal leases. CAP believes that for federal coal this is wrong — they want to inflate the royalty by also including transportation costs. That is like asking taxpayers to pay income tax on their wages plus their commuting costs.

The real market distortions are ones induced by unbalanced policies that largely explain why over the past three years some 20,000 men and women — most of them from Appalachia — no longer have their high wage coal jobs. These policies include:

• A moratorium on new coal mine permits in Appalachia imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency within months of the administration assuming office in 2009. Thousands of jobs were destroyed and many more never created as companies frustrated by years of delay withdrew their applications.

• EPA power plant emission rules forcing the premature closure of hundreds of coal-fueled power plants with most of them located in states served by Appalachian coal mines. By the EPA’s own calculation, these rules cost of $9 billion annually in exchange for a meager return of $6 million in benefits.

• The EPA’s pending costly power plan the agency concedes will close hundreds more highly efficient coal-fueled power plants serving as the reliable backbone for delivering low-cost electricity 24/7 to our nation’s businesses and households. The EPA advances this plan in the name of climate change while unable to quantify any climate benefits.

Appalachian coal miners, families and communities deserve better than CAP-style policies shifting responsibility for the bad consequences that follow from bad policies. Indeed, all Americans deserve better since whenever a coal miner loses his or her job, all Americans lose something — low-cost, reliable power and, in turn, perhaps their jobs as well.

Coal miners recognize real friends and real solutions. They know they won’t find either in politicians and organizations trying to pit coal miners against each other.

Hal Quinn is the president and chief executive officer of the National Mining Association.

Read the article.

 

Miss. Could Face Shortages Under ‘Clean Power Plan’

Via The Clarion-Ledger:

Right now, Mississippi gets 14 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants. But what would happen if the state were suddenly forced to seek all of its electricity from other sources? Could Mississippi experience shortages of power during peak use, with the cost of household power jumping significantly?

That’s the baffling scenario looming ahead as President Obama looks to implement strict rules on carbon emissions. Coal-powered electrical generation is now on the chopping block, thanks to a hastily assembled plan by the Environmental Protection Agency to shutter hundreds of domestic, coal-fired power plants.

What’s at stake is “grid reliability,” whether supply exists to meet the current, massive U.S. demand for electricity. For much of the country, the EPA’s mandate is troubling because, right now, roughly 40 percent of electricity in the United States comes from coal-fired generation.

Under new regulations from the EPA, many of these plants would be effectively forced out of operation. And to date, no one is saying how that power will be otherwise produced. Wind, solar and natural gas have all been suggested, but none is capable of providing reliable and affordable electricity like coal can. Some states are able to rely on alternative sources, like wind and hydropower, but that simply isn’t an option for much of the country.

The importance of coal in generating electricity was all too clearly demonstrated last winter, when coal-fired plants worked overtime to heat homes and businesses during a deep freeze. In fact, American Electric Power, a major utility company, reported that 90 percent of its coal plants slated for retirement under pending EPA rules were running at full speed just to meet peak demand.

Despite record-setting production in the Marcellus Shale and elsewhere, natural gas simply can’t compensate for a shortage of coal plants. This is due in part to a lack of infrastructure to deliver gas where it’s needed. But more importantly, natural gas has already been prioritized for home use, not power generation.

A recent report from PJM Interconnection, the regional power transmission group for 13 states, including Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, concluded that without coal plants there could be insufficient electricity to meet peak winter demand.

Under the EPA’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” consumers will undoubtedly pay higher electricity bills. But the more tragic problem is the possibility of widespread power outages during the coldest parts of winter.

These worrisome scenarios have so far been swept aside by the federal government. The shift away from coal is simply moving ahead with no regard for the consequences. And so, in light of the recent PJM report, the EPA’s regulatory plan amounts to very reckless toying with the nation’s power grid.

The truth is there’s simply no way around the use of coal to help ensure affordable and reliable power in the current market. That’s why state utility commissions and regulators from 22 states have sent formal comments to the EPA expressing concerns that the Clean Power Plan will jeopardize reliable and affordable electricity. That’s why the U.S. needs a diversified power portfolio that includes coal to meet the nation’s electricity needs.

Terry Jarrett served as a Missouri Public Service commissioner and chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Committee on Critical Infrastructure.

Read the article.

States Can “Just Say No” to the EPA’s Carbon Rule, Expert Says

Via Power Mag:

According to Peter S. Glaser, partner with Troutman Sanders LLP, who practices in the energy and environmental law fields, saying “no” is an option that states have in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan proposal.

Speaking during a panel discussion at George Mason University’s Law and Economics Center on Feb. 4, Glaser suggested that just saying no was not only an option, but perhaps even the best course of action for many states.

The EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan on June 2, 2014, under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., accounting for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA estimates that the proposed rule will help cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30% from 2005 levels.

The EPA is using its authority under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to promulgate the regulations. Section 111(d) is a state-based program for existing sources. As such, the EPA establishes guidelines and the states then design programs that fit within those guidelines. Once submitted, the EPA gets to review the state plans and make a judgment as to whether or not the criteria set forth was met under the plan. If not, the EPA would then have authority under the statute to impose a federal plan.

According to Glaser, a large number of states, perhaps even a majority, think the rule is a really bad idea and contrary to the best interests of their state’s citizens. For the most part, the states are concentrated in the middle of the country, and in the south and southeast. Most of them rely on coal-fired electricity more than other states do.

“These states think that the EPA regulations are going to require states to submit plans that will have dramatic increases in terms of raising the price of electricity to consumers and impairing the reliability of the electric grid just because the regulations are so aggressive. So they are really reluctant to buy into this program where they have to be the ones to submit plans and therefore they become the public face of the regulations and they become the ones that the citizens get mad at,” Glaser said.

The fact that the regulations face a high-likelihood of being overturned in court is another sticking point. Preparing a plan is extremely costly, time-consuming, and controversial, effectively forcing each state to re-engineer its electric grid in order to meet targets. If a state goes through the process of developing a plan, the entire effort could be wasted if the courts overturn the rule. Additionally, during the time it takes for litigation to play out, investment decisions could be made in order to comply with the regulations, which are difficult, or even impossible, to change.

The question Glaser asked was: What if states were to just say no to the whole program? To answer, he said there were really two alternatives.

One would be to simply not submit a plan. The other would be to submit a plan assuming the extent of the EPA’s authority would be what’s called an “inside the fence line” plan. In the second option, the state would only look at ways to reduce CO2 emissions from existing plants, such as by improving efficiency.

“What we believe EPA’s remedy would be, and its sole remedy would be—and I don’t think this is all that controversial—would be for EPA to do a federal plan,” Glaser said.

Glaser said that he doesn’t think the EPA really wants to do a federal plan. The reason: the EPA doesn’t want to be responsible for the consequences if, as a lot of people predict, the regulation ends up resulting in higher electric prices and degraded reliability.

Would a federal plan be any worse than what a state would put together? Probably not. The reason is that if states build a plan in accordance with the emission reduction requirements set forth by the EPA, there really isn’t any flexibility. In the end, the coal fleet has to take a significant hit. Glaser said that a person could actually make the argument that that’s the whole point of the regulation.

So, Glaser suggested that the best option for some states may be to say no, “at least until these things move through the courts and we find out whether this program is legal in the first place,” which he said “could take a period of years, because it probably will go all the way up to the Supreme Court.”

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

Read the article.

EPA Regulations Will Hamper Job Growth

From Agri-View:

Here in Wisconsin, we do not have the luxury of Arizona’s sun exposure for solar power, nor do we have the open plains like Iowa and the Dakotas to yield a high margin of wind energy. In Wisconsin, we rely on coal, and it accounts for more than 60 percent of our energy production in this state.

The Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities, along with the Senate Committee on Public works, held a joint informational hearing Jan. 28 to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed guidelines for states to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from existing electric generation units under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. According to the EPA, under the guidance of President Obama, the plan will cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 across the nation and by 34 percent in Wisconsin.

Throughout the hearing, we heard a number of alarming issues with the proposed plan. Specifically, we were told of the negative impact it will have on Wisconsin’s business community, as well as the average ratepayer. According to the Department of Natural Resources, as well as the Public Service Commission, this rule alone could cost Wisconsinites somewhere between $3.3 and $13.4 billion. Not only is this an astronomical cost that will put thousands of jobs at risk, but the timeline put in place by the EPA is unrealistic and unattainable.

According to testimony from the Wisconsin Utilities Association, $1.5 billion has been invested just since 2005 by Wisconsin’s largest utilities to improve air admissions from coal-fired plants. Due to our advancements in protecting our environment and the investments already made, our most dependable source of energy, coal, could be largely eliminated over the next 15 years. The biggest contributor to our overall energy portfolio will be scaled back.

We appreciate the administration working to protect our environment, but at what cost? The National Economic Research Associates states that the global impact of these new regulations will slow global warming by less than two one-hundredths of a degree and reduce the sea level rise by one one-hundredth of an inch by the year 2050.

Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) represents the 84th Assembly District, which includes parts of Waukesha and Milwaukee Counties. He is the chairman of the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities.

Read the article.

Basin Electric Urges Change in EPA CO2 Rule

As a nine-state generation and transmission provider, Basin Electric Power Cooperative finds itself in a unique, if not tight spot, under the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to slash carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

Basin Electric believes, as does NRECA, that EPA should withdraw its proposed Clean Power Plan targeting fossil fuel generation.But the Bismarck, N.D.-based G&T has ideas to make it work.

Barring that, before EPA finalizes the controversial rule this summer, Basin Electric said the agency should allow company-based, multistate plans for carbon dioxide reductions.

That would allow the averaging of emissions across all facilities of a utility, as opposed to demanding that states meet a carbon dioxide budget through electric generating units within their borders, the G&T said.

“Because we have such a significant regional footprint, a state-by-state solution is very complicated,” said Elizabeth Gore, policy director at the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. Gore appeared on behalf of Basin Electric at a Jan. 29 forum in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

“We have built our facilities as a system, we operate our facilities as a system and this would allow us to comply as a system.”

For example, North Dakota, which has coal generation, natural gas plants and wind power, would consider all of Basin’s facilities in the state and determine whether the cooperative meets the carbon dioxide limit set by EPA, she said.

Should Basin Electric overperform in North Dakota, the co-op could then allocate some wind megawatts to a state in which it operates that exceeds EPA’s emissions limits.

“Now, under this proposal, we meet the state targets, we meet the overall environmental targets and we can still operate as a system,” Gore said.

Basin Electric also owns and operates the nation’s only commercial-scale coal gasification plant. Dakota Gasification Co.’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant, near Beulah, N.D., has sequestered nearly 30 million tons of carbon dioxide. The EPA rule would not recognize its contribution.

“It’s an industrial facility, but it is part of our corporate umbrella,” said Gore. “We need to clarify [the rule] to make sure we get credit for lowering the carbon dioxide footprint of our organization.”

Basin Electric generates more than 5,000 megawatts of power across Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa to serve 138 distribution co-ops that sell power in nine states to 2.8 million consumers.

Read the article.

State Should Just Say No to the EPA

I like a warm house in the winter, a cool house in the dog days of August. I’m not so sure the Environmental Protection Agency wants the same for me. Amid the unresolved global warming debate, the EPA has proclaimed that it knows what’s best. When Congress refused to pass carbon caps, the bureaucrats at the rogue EPA seized power for themselves.

This morning I saw a cardinal sitting on top of the brand-new smart meter installed last summer. It got me thinking. If the EPA determines Indiana can’t generate any more electricity from coal, what then?

Eighty percent of our electricity comes from coal, much more than most states. Will the utility companies be forced to limit our usage because there isn’t enough to go around? What about expense? The Obama administration’s own comments state energy costs could “necessarily skyrocket” up to 80 percent. How’s that going to work out for the 30 percent of Hoosiers on Social Security?

What about the thousands who’ll lose their jobs due to these severe regulations?

House Rep. Chris Judy introduced a bill this session that could make a difference. House Bill 1290 says “no” to the EPA. It re-establishes the right of Indiana to determine its own energy policy, to set all rules and administer funding through our legislature with IDEM responsible for implementation. It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Hoosiers deciding what’s best for Hoosiers.

Now in a perfect world, I’d be anticipating passage of HB 1290. In the real world, I’m worried. Though every single member of the Indiana Senate and House swore allegiance to the constitution, though Republicans hold a majority in both houses, I’m apprehensive because I know how the game is played in Indy.

The merry-go-round begins each January when bills are reviewed by Senate President Pro Tem Long and House Speaker Bosma. If a bill doesn’t fit their agenda, they banish it to the rules committee, the “graveyard” where bills usually die. The remainder are assigned to committees to be edited and adjusted.

Next comes the hearing. House Bill 1290, assigned to the Environmental Affairs committee, most assuredly deserves a hearing. But not so fast. Word is behind-the-scene pressure from “leadership” is being placed on chairman Wolkins to forgo a hearing. No hearing, no bill.

Who are these anonymous powerbrokers who’d thwart the will of the people, these puppet masters who’d prevent a bill from getting an honest discussion? Why are they so feared by our legislators, those who solicited our votes with promises to fight against “big government”?

In late spring the senators and representatives melt back into their districts. “I didn’t get an opportunity to vote,” “I did everything I could” is their mantra. “Next year …” they vow year after year after year.

Oh, but we know the game. Representatives bow to leadership, leadership curtsies to Washington. The rights of the people are ravaged by the very officials elected to protect them.

Like the cardinal on my smart meter, we must decide. Will we fly south or stand up and let the spirit of liberty be heard?

Our founders who fought against the tyranny of King George never envisioned we’d so easily submit to the tyranny of bureaucracy.

That’s why the 10th Amendment is so important. The powers not delegated specifically to the federal government are reserved for the sovereign states. I must have missed the article in the Constitution that gives the federal government the ability to regulate light bulbs.

The Due Process and Takings Clause “prevents the government from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens which in all fairness and justice should be borne by the public as a whole.” Indiana shouldn’t be punished because God put coal in the hills of our southern counties.

The Anti-Commandeering Doctrine, affirmed by the Supreme Court no less, says Washington can’t compel states to enforce their federal regulatory programs.

Last time I checked, the EPA’s the mother of all federal regulatory agencies.

Call your reps. You probably won’t get to them, but maybe you can educate their aids. Tell them Hoosiers can’t afford more EPA nonsense.

The new EPA coal plan will devastate Indiana. I didn’t say that. Gov. Mike Pence did. It’s time to deliver Indiana from the unconstitutional EPA. House Bill 1290 must have a hearing.

Read the article.

 

EPA Rule Changes Will Drive Up Cost of Energy

Gas prices remain below $2 a gallon in most of New Mexico, providing citizens of our state with extra cash for their winter fun. Don’t get used to it. The Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of implementing three rules that a new study by the Rio Grande Foundation and Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University says will substantially drive up the cost of electricity in New Mexico.

This comes on top of recent, dramatic increases in electricity prices, thanks in part to New Mexico’s aggressive renewable portfolio standard (RPS). With the state’s largest utility, PNM, looking for a 12 percent rate hike, the RPS forcing utilities to purchase more costly renewables, and the Obama administration’s proposed regulations, electricity rate hikes faced by New Mexicans are only just beginning.

Of course all New Mexicans want a clean environment; most appreciate the EPA’s intentions. Nonetheless, it’s clear that with the exception of a radical fringe, few are clamoring for new federal regulations that threaten the state’s struggling economy.

By any measure, New Mexico’s air is in great shape. According to the American Lung Association’s 2013 “State of the Air” report, three New Mexico cities, Santa Fe, Farmington and Albuquerque, rank among the 10 cleanest nationwide in terms of particulate pollution. Farmington ranked fifth-cleanest despite being downwind of two of New Mexico’s major coal-fired power plants.

Apparently that isn’t good enough for this EPA. Recently, it dictated three major rules on emissions — one on mercury and two on carbon dioxide — that will increase the price of electricity in New Mexico by 18 percent by 2030, according to the economists who conducted the study.

That’s bad news for commercial and residential rate-payers alike.

The rules especially target New Mexico’s coal plants, which produce 68 percent of the state’s electricity, and the bulk of base load electricity to the nation’s electric grids. The rule mandates existing coal plants reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by at least 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

To comply with this mandate, the state’s coal plants will be forced to adopt expensive and unproven new carbon capture technology. This will obviously have a devastating impact on the state’s 1,583 workers who work directly in the coal industry. These are well-paying, often unionized jobs.

And the study’s economists highlight how the employment impact will spread far beyond mining. They forecast that under the rule, 5,170 jobs will be lost in New Mexico by 2030, a number that includes those from other sectors which service the coal industry. In other words, this proposal impacts both the truck driver who gets the coal to the furnace and the chef making green chile cheeseburgers for his lunch.

Even the EPA estimates that these new regulations will cost over $50 billion nationally. But it justifies this cost by claiming that they will provide tens of billions of dollars in benefits that will more than offset these costs. The vast majority of these benefits come in the form of improved health.

Quantifying tens of billions of dollars in health improvements is a difficult task at best and a fool’s errand at worst. The EPA has drawn widespread criticism for its use of secret science and stretched assumptions to come up with such a forecast. For example, economists at the Beacon Hill Institute criticize the benefit assessments for incorporating the reduction of particulate matter, which is already regulated under different EPA rules.

Clean air is a worthy goal, something which New Mexicans are lucky to have along with reliable electricity produced by coal. But as this study indicates, wringing the last few pollution particles out of the atmosphere comes at a cost that is too steep for New Mexicans.

Read the article.

 

EPA’s Carbon Regs Could Cut Wyoming Coal Output 45% by 2030

From the Wyoming Business Report:

According to a yet-to-be-released study by the University of Wyoming’s Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy, the Environmental Protection Agency’s planned carbon emissions standards for coal-fired power plants could cause a decline in Wyoming coal output by 20 to 45 percent in 2030.

University of Wyoming Professor Robert Godby presented the executive summary of the massive study to the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WIA) during their winter meeting. He said that when he first obtained the figures outlining the potential decline of Wyoming coal, “I felt like an astronomer, looking in the telescope and being the first one to see the asteroid heading towards earth.”

Since 1986, Wyoming has been the largest producer of coal in the United States, and for the past four decades coal has been the most stable source of state revenues. Yet despite coal’s importance to the state’s economy, few studies have been done to quantify the economic impact of the industry. Before Godby and company’s study, the most recent examination was done back in 2000.

The new study examined both the economic impact of coalmining itself and the ‘wider coal economy’ which takes into account all activity caused by the presence of coalmining, including rail shipping of coal and the coal-fired electrical power industry. The wider coal economy has a 14 percent share of the state’s gross economic product, while coalmining itself generated $1.3 billion, or 11.2 percent of all state revenues for fiscal year 2012, the most recent year that figures were available.

The study examined all of the influences on Wyoming coal production, which had already dropped 17 percent since 2008 due to falling natural gas prices, slow economic growth and the increase in the availability of renewable energy.  The increasing depth of the coal deposits in the Powder River Basin, and the added expense of reaching them are also factors the study considered.

However, the study concluded that, “fundamental market factors pose a less serious threat to Wyoming coal production than those presented by potential carbon regulations.”

When the study began last May, the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan (also referred to as “111(d)” for the section of the Clean Air Act the rule- making falls under), was still in the development stages. The plan was supposed to be finalized in June. However on January 7, the EPA pushed the release of the final rules back to later this summer.

To define the potential impacts of 111(d), the study’s authors turned to the Rhodium Group, a New York-based consultancy who shared a set of proprietary simulations they developed to estimate the impact of the EPA’s proposed regulations on the national economy.

“Regardless of how the policy is implemented, imposition of proposed 111(d) rules results in a significant decline in projected Wyoming coal output across all cases,” the study summary read. “By 2030 these declines range from approximately 20 percent to 45 percent from 2012 levels, depending on the case considered.”

Even under the best circumstances, by 2025 Wyoming coal production is projected to fall by 32 percent from 2012 levels, with a total job loss across the state of 7,000.

“The effects of the regulations would be especially destructive to the Powder River Basin region, where almost one in ten jobs would be eliminated,” the study summary read.

Read the article.

New EPA Rules Will Kill Wisconsin Jobs

Harsh Midwest winters have a tendency to make Wisconsinites’ electricity bills jump quite a bit, but that is not the only thing that will increase our bills if the Environmental Protection Agency gets its way.

Recently proposed rules by the EPA, expected to be finalized this summer, would sharply limit carbon emissions at coal-fired power plants across the country over the next 15 years. Wisconsin would be hit especially hard because coal-fired plants generate 62 percent of the state’s electricity.

The rules would limit the supply of power from these plants by forcing them to adopt expensive and unproven technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, or shut down completely.

The cost of compliance with these rules for Wisconsin is estimated at nearly $1 billion a year by 2030.

According to a new report from the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University and the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, the EPA’s proposed carbon emission rules under the Clean Air Act would raise Wisconsin electricity prices by 19 percent over the next decade and a half.

That is an average annual increase of $225 for the typical residential ratepayer by 2030. Commercial ratepayers would see an average increase of $1,530. But each is a fraction of the cost of what our state’s manufacturers would pay.

Because of a heavy reliance on electricity to power large machinery, the average industrial ratepayer would see an increase of $105,094 a year by 2030. A major cost hike like that would be unsustainable for many of Wisconsin’s manufacturers.

Massive growth in electricity costs like this would harm the state’s economy, where one in five private-sector workers is in the manufacturing sector. That makes Wisconsin one of the top manufacturing states in the country.

If the EPA’s rules go into effect as they are currently written, nearly 21,000 jobs would be lost by 2030 according to the Beacon Hill/MacIver study.

The country is still struggling to bounce back from the recession. The last thing we need from the federal government is another set of burdensome regulations that will make our economic recovery more difficult.

It is particularly maddening that the EPA will not give the state credit for already reducing carbon emissions when it claims that is the true reason for the new rules.

Since 2005, Wisconsin has seen a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions according to the Public Service Commission. That is the equivalent of more than 10 million tons of carbon dioxide. But the EPA rules ignore Wisconsin’s progress, leading to greater harm to the state’s economy.

Thanks to higher electricity prices and fewer jobs, the state’s disposable income would drop by $1.82 billion by 2030.

It is obvious that these rules will have harmful effects on Wisconsin’s families and businesses, and that is simply unacceptable.

We cannot afford to have Washington bureaucrats hand down a decision that will negatively impact the daily lives of everyone in our great state. That is why policymakers — especially those at the EPA — need to be aware of the detrimental effects these rules will have on businesses, workers and families all across Wisconsin and this country.

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Standing Up to the EPA

The West Virginia Legislature is considering bills (HB 2004 and SB 4) that would give lawmakers oversight for how the state Department of Environmental Protection plans to meet the federal EPA’s sweeping plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, states must submit plans for reducing carbon emissions using “building blocks” established by the EPA. They include making coal-fired power plants more efficient, increasing the use of natural gas at power plants, using more alternative fuels, such as wind and solar, and increasing energy efficiency in homes and businesses.

Lawmakers pushing the bills say this is an important issue for legislative purview because it’s a matter of balancing the power of the executive and legislative branches. However, it’s also a pushback against an overreach by the EPA.

And West Virginia is not alone. At least nine states, including West Virginia, and a number of organizations are mounting a legal challenge against the EPA, questioning its authority to use a section of the Clean Air Act to dictate to states how they generate their electricity.

Laurence Tribe, professor of constitutional law at Harvard, arguing on behalf of Peabody Energy, contends the EPA’s actions violate the 10th Amendment, which reserves for the states powers that are not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution.

“The proposed rule lacks legal basis and represents an improper attempt by EPA unilaterally to remake a vast portion of the American economy on the basis of a hitherto obscure provision of the Clean Air Act, Section 111.”

Other legal experts share Tribe’s view. Dr. David Schnare is legal counsel for the non-partisan Energy and Environmental Legal Institute, but before that he spent 33 years as an EPA regulator, enforcing the Clean Air Act. Schnare says the EPA does not have the authority to dictate to states where they get their energy as a method of reducing carbon.

“These policy choices are not EPA’s to make,” Schnare writes. “States—not EPA—are responsible for managing their energy resources through such measures as choosing what type of fuels or resources should be used to generate electricity and whether the limitation of energy consumption is a desirable policy.”

It’s understandable that West Virginia’s DEP feels pressure to submit a plan that meets federal EPA requirements. Schnare says EPA claims it has two enforcement tools: It could direct the U.S. Transportation Department to withhold highway funds until a plan is in place and EPA can force its own plan on the states.

But these bully tactics work only as long as the states let them get away with it. If enough states and independent groups push back, the EPA may have to reconsider it’s unilateral action. Additionally, opponents of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan have a decent chance of winning in court.

This isn’t so much about the human contribution to greenhouse gases and climate change or the deniers versus the alarmists; this is about the lengths to which an unelected federal agency will go to impose its will.

What are the limits of federal power? At what point does Washington’s authority become so consuming that administrative fiat trumps the democratic process and federalism is reduced to a quaint anachronism?

West Virginia should follow Schnare’s “wait and see” approach to this EPA overreach. At some point the EPA’s legal house of cards based on its perversion of the Clean Air Act and the agency’s unrelenting extension of federal power will collapse upon itself.

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Michigan Still Runs on Coal

For some time now, the Obama administration has been trying to force through a climate change policy aimed at reducing carbon emissions from electricity production, particularly coal-fired power plants. Regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency could force states to shut down hundreds of coal plants and shift to natural gas and renewable energy.

Michigan is right between the crosshairs. Coal accounts for nearly half of the state’s electricity supply. EPA’s proposed rule for existing power plants would require Michigan to reduce its carbon emissions 31.5 percent over the 2005 level by 2030.

Already, air regulations for particulate emissions that EPA issued two years ago, along with the shutdown of additional coal plants over the next two years can be expected to increase wholesale power prices as much as 55 percent across the nation. Unfortunately, fuel diversity and electricity reliability are being sacrificed for questionable environmental gains, putting millions of Americans and businesses at risk of higher electricity costs and brownouts.

Grid operators, utilities and state energy officials are worried about the financial costs of an electricity system that is becoming heavily dependent on natural gas. New England relies on natural gas for more than 50 percent of its electricity. Texas, California and Florida depend on gas plants for 75 percent of their power.

Natural gas has a history of wide price swings. Increasing dependence on natural gas for electricity generation could come back to haunt many states. Imagine what the price of natural gas will be in a few years as increasing volumes of natural gas are diverted for industrial purposes and are made available for export to overseas markets.

By contrast, coal is America’s, and the world’s, energy mainstay. Coal is plentiful, and its price is stable. Coal generation accounts for 40 percent of America’s electricity.

Significantly, electricity rates are on average 30 percent lower in states that receive over half of their power from coal generation. “Base-load” power from coal, along with nuclear energy, undergirds the nation’s electric grid and is largely responsible for meeting America’s energy needs. If coal and nuclear plants are closed prematurely due to the availability of gas, many families and small businesses could be hard hit in future years by significantly higher electricity bills.

What should be done?

For starters, keep Michigan’s coal plants in operation. The state public utility commission should do what it can to prevent the premature retirement of coal plants.

Nuclear power is another viable option. A study by the Brookings Institution shows that nuclear plants, which run at over 90 percent capacity, avoid almost four times as much greenhouse-gas emissions per unit of capacity as do wind turbines, which run at about 25 percent; they avoid six times as much as solar arrays do. And the land-use requirements of solar and wind installations should shock anyone who enjoys open green spaces.

Neither solar nor wind has the capability for the large-scale energy storage needed to provide base-load electricity regardless of weather conditions. A dynamic economy cannot depend for its electricity on whether the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.

As America’s demand for electricity grows, new nuclear plants will go online. Five reactors – two each in Georgia and South Carolina, and one in Tennessee – are under construction. The Georgia and South Carolina reactors use an advanced AP1000 design, in which a plant’s components are built off-site in factories and then delivered for assembly. This has helped hold down costs and prevent construction delays.

NRC is considering Detroit Edison’s request to renew the operating license of Fermi 2 for another 20 years. And Detroit Edison has an application pending before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a combined construction and operating license should it decide to build another reactor at the Fermi plant. Implicit in projections of future economic growth in Michigan is an assumption that nuclear-generating capacity will increase.

A balanced mix of energy options is an essential characteristic of a robust and resilient system. Without coal and nuclear power, the two sources that can produce power around the clock at stable prices, that diversity is at serious risk. It could expose American consumers and businesses to punishing price volatility and a loss of electricity reliability.

Coal and nuclear power are vital to our nation’s energy security. And despite criticism from their environmental detractors, coal and nuclear power will become even more vital in the years ahead.

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Expert Says EPA Plan Will Kill Mississippians

Former Environmental Protection Agency regulator David Schnare urged Mississippi lawmakers to defy a federal rule requiring states to implement sweeping greenhouse-gas reduction plans, calling it both costly and illegal.

Lawmakers have until today to accept his challenge, but it’s unclear whether they’ll do so.

Schnare, a noted climate-change denier, appeared Monday before a joint legislative committee advocating for the passage of two bills thwarting Mississippi’s compliance with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The plan sets goals for each state to cut carbon dioxide emissions but allows those states to decide the process.

The EPA’s goals for Mississippi require a 40 percent reduction of carbon dioxide by its three coal-fired power plants by 2030, and it suggests several strategies to make it happen — including making its plants more efficient, increasing renewable energy sources and launching energy conservation programs.

Mississippi has until the end of the year to submit its plan.

But Schnare called it an unrealistic agenda that violates states’ rights and could inadvertently kill as many as 600 Mississippians by driving utility costs so high people forgo medical care just to afford it.

“This is a rule with blood on its hands,” said Schnare, who was brought in by the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.

The bills — HB 875 and SB 2571 — would create red tape designed to delay Mississippi’s compliance with the federal rule for months — or longer — until ongoing legal challenges might deem EPA’s plan illegal and render the entire effort moot.

They call for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to prepare a report on how the EPA plan would affect the state’s power plants, utility rates, employment situation and economic development and any legal ramifications it might pose. They also require MDEQ to hold a 90-day public comment period on the report and publish a final notice indicating its intentions moving forward.

But Schnare’s request drew objection from DEQ Executive Director Gary Rikard. Although Rikard said he shares Schnare’s disdain of the EPA plan, he asked lawmakers not to interfere.

“I don’t think that legislation is needed,” Rikard said. “If you want to take any act, I recommend a resolution be passed …”

Both bills sit in committees, where lawmakers said they haven’t yet determined what they’ll do. The bills will die unless passed out of their respective committees today.

Which States Face Most Risk from EPA Rules?

Electric cooperatives and public power utilities in West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida and Arizona face the greatest challenges in meeting the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon dioxide rules.

“Many public power utilities already near the top of what’s affordable for customers could face backlash to raise electricity rates further. However, not raising rates comes at a price, too, as it could impair credit quality,” said Ryan Greene, director, U.S. Public Finance at Fitch.That’s the conclusion of Fitch Ratings, which has released a carbon cost index that ranks 47 states on their relative ability to comply with the rules while preserving their financial margins and credit status.

The study, released Jan. 30, said the EPA Clean Power Plan presents the highest hurdles for co-ops and public utilities in states that face sizable reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, high carbon reduction costs and high electricity costs.

By those measures, Fitch placed West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida and Arizona from 43rd to 47th place. Among those states, Arkansas is staring at the largest proportional reduction in carbon dioxide—12.86 million metric tons on estimated 2030 generation of 68 million megawatt-hours.

Tennessee, Alabama, Delaware, Connecticut and Texas ranked 38th to 42th in the index, respectively.

The states that face the fewest challenges from EPA regulations, in order, are Washington, Idaho, Oregon, North Dakota and Montana. They are helped by comparatively low retail electricity prices, the ratings service noted.

Fitch said Vermont has no generation sources affected by the EPA plan and excluded Alaska and Hawaii.

Ratepayers are likely to foot much of the bill for compliance, Fitch said, citing industry cost estimates that range from $5.5 billion to $73 billion.

“While it’s almost certain that public power and cooperative utilities will pass on those costs to customers, it’s nearly impossible to determine how rate-setting strategies and financial policies will be impacted,” said Dennis Pidherny, managing director of Fitch’s U.S. Public Finance division.

The report predicted the EPA rules will have few short-term implications for co-ops and public power utilities because they have retired many older, coal-based units.

“However, over the longer term, compliance in states that rely heavily on coal-fired generation and have been slow to adopt renewable portfolio standards and energy-efficiency mandates could be more challenging and potentially costly,” it said.

Official Says EPA Carbon Emission Goals Proposed For Arizona Are Too Harsh

WASHINGTON – Blistering summer temperatures are already hard enough on Arizona, but they could become even more of a challenge if the state is required to meet carbon emission reductions proposed by the federal government, a state official said Thursday.

“The fact is that it gets hot in Arizona. There are periods in the summer in which we are utilizing every possible source of electricity, from natural gas to nuclear to renewable energy and coal,” said Henry Darwin, the director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. “At times we even throw our extension cord into California.”

When that happens the state has no option but to include coal-fired power plants to produce enough electricity to meet demand, Darwin said. That makes it difficult for the state to replace coal with cleaner sources of energy.

Darwin’s comments came during a Bipartisan Policy Center panel on the Environment Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, where he was one of 11 state representatives, utilities representatives and policymakers.

While they applauded the EPA’s effort to have conversations with stakeholders, the panel members were critical of the agency’s strict requirements and deadlines. Many said EPA was asking for too much, too fast.

The Clean Power Plan proposal, set to be finalized this summer, aims to reduce carbon emissions nationwide by 30 percent by 2030. Goals were set for each state by assessing its current carbon-emission reduction strategies, resources and its “potential to reduce pollution,” according to the EPA website.

The plan calls for Arizona to reduce its carbon emissions by 52 percent in the next 15 years, Darwin said. Eighty percent of that goal would have to be met in the next five years, he said. This represents the second-highest state goal in the country, trailing only Washington.

The EPA based Arizona’s goal on average annual electricity usage, without accounting for summer spikes in electricity usage, Darwin said. About 25 percent of electricity used in Arizona homes goes toward air conditioning, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, compared to 6 percent nationally.

Arizona relies heavily on coal power, which is more carbon-intensive than burning petroleum or natural gas for electricity, according to the EPA.

“For an annual average, yes, Arizona may be able to redispatch coal to natural gas in order to meet its average need for electricity,” Darwin said. “But in Arizona we have 120 degree summers, and we’re using every single resource in order to generate electricity.”

An EPA spokeswoman said in an emailed statement that states can meet the emission reduction goals using any strategy they want.

“EPA is not mandating the retirement of any coal plants. Decisions about whether and which individual plants may retire will be made entirely within that state planning process,” the emailed statement said.

But Darwin said Arizona cannot meet the EPA’s proposed goals without retiring coal, something that is not feasible for the state by 2020 – the first proposed date for an interim check.

“I can’t overemphasize the need to build in flexibility for individual states and regions,” said Lisa Edgar, president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. “The proposed rule needs to recognize that every state has different generation mixes, economics, state laws, and legislative priorities.”

The EPA received 3.5 million comments on the proposed plan and has consulted continuously with stakeholders on it, according to the agency’s statement.

“We will consider all comments, including those related to concerns regarding coal retirements and reliability, as we develop a final rule,” the emailed statement said.

Darwin said the state is taking the EPA at its word.

“Despite these challenges, we’ve been working with EPA to provide our concerns and comments, and we’ve been providing them data to back that up,” Darwin said.

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