Monthly Archives: April 2015

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

Okla. Governor Signs Order in Opposition to EPA Carbon Plan

Via E&E Publishing:

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) issued an executive order this week to prevent her state from submitting a plan to implement U.S. EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Fallin, in a Tuesday news release, said her order was intended to show that “Oklahoma has no intention of implementing new regulations that run directly contrary to the interests of our citizens and our state.” She said efforts against “bad policy” would be fought in court.

“President Obama and the EPA are fighting a politically charged war against utility consumers across the country,” Fallin said in a statement. “While the environmental benefits of these regulations will be minimal, the economic devastation of these overreaching and unrealistic regulations will be very real.”

The Clean Power Plan, which still is being finalized, seeks a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. Targets vary by state, and certain interim goals could begin in 2020.

EPA is following its mission in seeking to protect communities from harmful pollution, according to an emailed statement yesterday from Johnson Bridgwater, director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Sierra Club. He took aim at Fallin’s order, saying Oklahoma could seize its energy future and touting the potential of renewable options such as wind.

Yet, “without a state implementation plan, Governor Fallin will force the EPA to swoop in and create a federal solution for our state,” Bridgwater said. “And while Oklahoma and some other states are pushing back against the EPA, it is important to note that many states are fully backing what the EPA is doing at the state level.”

Oklahoma lawmakers also have advanced legislation — S.B. 676 — that would, among other items, require that the state’s attorney general review any proposed state plan to see whether it meets state and federal laws.

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s Republican attorney general, this week praised the state Senate’s passage of the bill, saying it would help ensure decisions about generating electricity are made by state officials. He said he looked forward to the governor’s signature on the legislation.

“With the passage of this bill, the state of Oklahoma is sending a clear signal that we will not comply with the EPA’s unlawful Clean Power Plan,” Pruitt said in a statement. “That proposed rule is an attempt by the federal government to take control over electric power systems in the states. States should not be forced to comply with this unlawful rule, which is already being challenged in court by Oklahoma and other states.”

In her executive order, Fallin said she previously directed the state to submit comments opposing EPA’s plan. She said attorneys general in multiple states have discussed potential legal defects that could invalidate the carbon proposal.

“If the Clean Power Plan is adopted in 2015, and Attorneys General are correct in their legal analysis, the EPA has exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide,” Fallin said in her order.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, speaking last week at IHS CERAWeek in Houston, defended the carbon plan and said the rule would be delivered this summer and have “no constitutional defect.” She also said EPA had been reviewing comments about the proposal, including on interim goals that some have said are too aggressive (EnergyWire, April 24).

In an emailed statement yesterday, EPA said the Clean Power Plan was built on a “state-federal partnership” set up by Congress decades ago, citing the Clean Air Act. EPA talked of giving “states important flexibility to design plans that meet their individual and unique needs.”

Fallin’s executive order indicated she prohibited the Department of Environmental Quality from starting efforts to develop a state implementation plan on carbon emissions in response to a finalization of the Clean Power Plan. Such a plan could take “untold” amounts of time and finances, she said in the order.

Developing a plan could happen only if it’s found to be necessary by the state’s attorney general or a “court of competent jurisdiction,” according to the document. Fallin said there would need to be written authority of the governor.

If EPA’s plan is finalized, Fallin said the attorney general is to review it and publish a white paper on the legal efficacy of the regulation. She also requested the attorney general take necessary action in enforcing the rights of Oklahoma in relation to federal action that may affect the “freedoms of its people.”

The Texas Public Policy Foundation applauded Fallin’s order in an emailed statement yesterday, saying the carbon proposal could increase costs and hurt state economies.

“Oklahoma recognizes the EPA’s Clean Power Plan edict for what it is: a power grab,” said Doug Domenech, director of the Fueling Freedom Project at the foundation.

See the article here. [Subscription required]

 

NERC Finds EPA Deadlines Too Short for Reliability

Via ect.coop:

“This study from the regulatory authority charged with ensuring electric reliability bolsters arguments made by electric co-ops and others that the EPA’s interim deadlines are, quite simply, not workable,” Emerson said.

The report by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. said additional transmission and natural gas infrastructure will not be in service in time necessary to meet EPA’s proposed emissions limits on the power sector.

NERC also found that the Clean Power Plan’s accelerated shift in baseload generation from coal to natural gas would require investments in new transmission and generation and “significantly increase overall costs.”

Under the NERC analysis, about 43 gigawatts of generation would be retired in state cases and another 41 GW in regional cases between 2016 and 2020 to meet the rule’s interim deadline for carbon dioxide reductions of 80 percent.

Emerson said EPA’s data projects that co-ops will have to shutter about 21 percent of their coal generation by 2025—nearly 5,700 megawatts—to comply.

“NERC’s modeling, however, shows that the generation and transmission additions necessary to fulfill the capacity requirements would not be completed until 2031, at the earliest,” Emerson said.

Coal’s move from baseload to peaking generation under the rule is expected to result in significantly higher maintenance and fixed costs to support a plant’s operation, NERC said.

For electric co-ops, Emerson said that the NERC assessment “adds an important, focused perspective to the debate over how the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would affect electric reliability.”

“While we wish EPA had not given reliability such short shrift prior to issuing the draft Clean Power Plan, we firmly believe it is now incumbent on the agency to heed NERC’s warnings before the rule is finalized,” she said.

EPA plans to finalize the rule this summer.

See the article here.

EPA’s Pending Power Plant Rule Threatens the American Dream

Via the Energy and Commerce Committee: 

Access to affordable and reliable electricity allows us to cool and heat our homes and powers our economy, but EPA is threatening to restrict access to affordable energy with its proposed regulations on power plants. Under EPA’s proposed 111(d) rule for existing power plants, referred to by the agency as its Clean Power Plan, electricity rates are estimated to increase by an average of 15 percent in a majority of states. These cost increases will hit low-income families the hardest and could lead to fewer jobs and lower wages.

In comments submitted to EPA regarding the proposed rule, organizations have warned about the potential rate shock and other damaging consequences of EPA’s plan. For example:

  • National Black Chamber of Commerce: “EPAs proposal to regulate carbon from existing power plants is one of the most complex regulations ever put forth. It also appears to be one of the costliest. Higher energy costs resulting from your proposal will devastate small businesses, for which energy costs are often the highest, or one of the highest, operating expenses. … EPA and the Obama Administration must recognize that these policies will cause a domino effect that could ultimately force African-American business owners to eliminate good-paying jobs and become more financially unstable as energy costs rise.”
  • United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: “The growth of Hispanic businesses has exploded, up nearly 40 percent since 2007. … Many factors have bolstered this growth, but chief among them has been access to low-cost electricity. Businesses of all sizes—from energy-intensive manufacturers to small family-owned stores—require power to keep their operations moving. Therefore, it is critical that the regulations coming out of Washington protect small business owners, in all communities, from increased electricity costs. If monthly energy bills get too high, business owners are forced to trim their spending in other areas, which too often includes payroll. … [W]e urge EPA to re-examine the impacts and implementation of its Clean Power Plan proposal, which we believe is currently too inflexible, costly and contains many unknown impacts.”
  • National Association of Realtors: “If this rule is finalized, we can expect fewer families to realize the American dream of homeownership. Some homeowners could be forced to walk away from their existing homes due to rising energy costs. … It is not prudent to implement such drastic and costly rules at this time.”

As our economy recovers and many Americans are just getting back on their feet, the last thing they need is more regulations that could drive up the cost of energy. Instead of making it harder for Americans to achieve their dreams – whether it’s starting a business, getting a job, or owning a home – we need solutions that will encourage success. That’s why Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) have introduced the Ratepayer Protection Act. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will empower states to protect families and businesses from rate increases, reduced reliability, and other harmful effects of EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan. To learn more about this solution to keep electricity affordable and reliable, click HERE.

Will America’s Poor Pay for Obama’s Coal Plan?

In an economic climate that’s already challenging for the everyday consumer, a new problem looms: higher electricity costs, perhaps much higher. While it’s often hard to pinpoint why a product or service increases in price, it’s easy to identify the cause for this price hike: the Clean Power Plan.

In June 2014, at the direction of President Barack Obama, as part of his overall strategy to combat global climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency, to quote The Washington Post, “proposed a rule designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by as much as 30 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.” The 645-page rule, called the Clean Power Plan (CPP), was based on authority the EPA claimed it has under the Clean Air Act.

At present, 31 percent of country’s carbon dioxide emissions is produced by the electricity sector. (Transportation accounts for 27 percent; the rest is attributed to industry, agriculture, and residential and commercial use.) The CPP rule, expected to be finalized this summer, targets 523 plants, specifically the 63 percent that are 40 years old or older. Each state must develop a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions produced by these plants to a level set by the EPA. The reduction rates range from modest (11 percent for North Dakota) to substantial (72 percent for Washington). If a state fails to develop a plan, the EPA will devise one for it.

Coal generates nearly 40 percent of the electricity used in the United States. That number is expected to drop to 30 percent by 2030. Because of coal’s vital place in the national energy picture, reaction to the CPP has been noteworthy. Murray Energy Corporation, other energy companies, and 14 states filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia, arguing the EPA does not have the authority to create the CPP under the Clean Air Act. “At stake is the environmental agency’s proposed rule,” The New York Times noted, “[which] could ultimately shut down hundreds of coal plants.”

Laurence H. Tribe, Obama’s mentor at Harvard University School of Law who has become an outspoken critic of the CPP, mounted a forceful argument at a hearing on April 16. Tribe believes the EPA purposely misread a section of the Clean Air Act to give itself license to write the rule. “The EPA is coloring outside the lines,” said Tribe, who represents an energy company. “They’re trying to make law, no execute law. They are commandeering the states. States are not to be treated as puppets.” The judges agreed with Tribe, but, as The Times observed, “[they still] appeared inclined…to dismiss the first legal challenge to President Obama’s most far-reaching regulation to slow climate change.”

Separate from the current legal action, some local politicians are suggesting states boycott the rule. “The other option…is refusal to comply,” Kenneth C. Hill, director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, wrote in The Wall Street Journal on April 21. “This also places the feds in a legally tenuous position that is fraught with political repercussions.”

Should the CPP survive political and legal challenges, one fact is clear: the price of electricity will go up. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce projects the new rule will cost businesses $50 billion a year. Much of that cost will be passed on to the consumer in the form of soaring electricity rates. A study conducted by NERA Economic Consulting concluded that, from 2017 until 2031, customers would spend $560 billionmore for electricity. Forty-three states will see double-digit price hikes. States less reliant on coal will see increases of 10 percent. States more reliant will be the hardest hit. Utah will see an increase of 20 percent, Wyoming 18 percent.

Consider Ohio. “In 2013,” one report states, “coal provided almost 70 percent of Ohio’s electricity…. Ohio’s average electricity price…last year was almost 10 percent below the national average…. Modeling by NERA Economic Consulting projects that the CPP will cause a 10 percent increase in retail electricity prices for Ohio consumers, with a peak year increase of 18 percent.”

This means that not only will utility bills go up, so will the price of numerous other items, from consumer goods to groceries. Higher prices will hit hardest the people who can afford them the least — the middle class and working poor, already struggling to get by. Perhaps that’s why last May seven Democratic senators, including Mark Warren of Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, sent a letter to the president expressing their concern over the CPP.

“We strongly recommend,” the senators wrote, “that you evaluate more appropriate ways to regulate emissions…. Long-term thinking is essential to ensure that every U.S. citizen will have access to affordable and reliable energy while encouraging energy solutions that lower our carbon footprint.”

See the article here.

 

EPA Energy Plan Bad News for Utah Seniors

Via The Desert News:

In a nation still seeking to find its economic footing from the crash of 2008, Utah has a lot to be proud of. It has the third-lowest unemployment rate among the 50 states, and was recently ranked as the No. 1 state in terms of overall economic performance by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

There are many factors that contribute to Utah’s strong economy, but one of them — relatively low energy costs — might soon be a thing of the past if the Obama administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) get their way.

The EPA has proposed a sweeping emissions reduction mandate, called the Clean Power Plan, designed to cut carbon emissions from electric power generation by 30 percent by 2030. The impact could be crippling unless Utah takes a stand and just says “no.”

Economists predict that the EPA plan will cause a huge increase in Utahn’s electricity bills — a jump of at least 24 percent and possibly as much as 55 percent. That’s a mind-boggling jump in the price of a basic necessity like electric power. Every family will take a hit. And Utah’s seniors and the one in four Utah households that rely on Social Security to make ends meet will be financially devastated.

My organization represents more than 77,000 seniors in Utah, and I speak with the elderly every day about their worries and concerns. Living hand-to-mouth on a fixed income and meager Social Security check is not the future most seniors envisioned for their golden years. Sometimes they have to make choices nobody should have to make to get through the month. A skipped meal here. A month without medications there. The thermostat turned uncomfortably low. Skyrocketing electricity prices will make choices like these all too common, and will push too many of our seniors and other vulnerable citizens across the line from struggling to impoverished.

Utah should be a model for the nation. The state has built a thriving economy and improved the lives of its citizens while much of the country still struggles to recover from the Great Recession. Sadly, however, instead of studying what Utah has done right, Washington is pushing policies that threaten to put Utah and the rest of the nation in economic reverse.

Fortunately, Utah’s leaders understand what is at stake. Gov. Gary Herbert has signed a letter to President Obama asserting that the Clean Air Act does not give the federal government authority to regulate the coal-fired power plants that generate over 80 percent of Utah’s electricity.

Utah can do even more to force the EPA to rethink its plans: it can refuse to play the EPA’s dangerous game and simply say “no thanks.” Under the EPA proposal, each state is required to submit a plan for meeting Washington’s carbon reduction targets. By refusing to submit a target, Utah can show that its people and their hard work mean more than abstract targets dreamed up by Washington bureaucrats.

Utahns are always there for a neighbor in need or to lend a hand to the less fortunate. They’re not ones to shrug and turn away when government policies threaten to make basic necessities, like the energy we all rely on, unaffordable. The best way for Utah to extend a helping hand today is also the simplest: just say no to the EPA’s cruel power plan.

Jim Martin is chairman and founder of the 60 Plus Association.

See the article here.

“Clean Power” Might Mean More Blackouts

Via The Journal-Democrat:

Here’s an important question: Just how much of Nebraska’s electricity is supplied by coal?  The answer is far more than one might guess.  

In fact, Nebraska gets 72 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants.  But what if Nebraska were suddenly forced to seek its electricity from other sources.  Could the state could find enough electricity to meet demand during peak use, or would it experience higher utility prices and potential blackouts?

These are important questions to ask as President Obama looks to implement strict new rules on carbon dioxide emissions.  
His administration is hoping to vastly reduce America’s use of coal through a hastily assembled plan by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would likely force the closure of hundreds of domestic coal-fired power plants. If coal-supplied power is in jeopardy, then what’s really at issue is long-term “grid reliability.” 

Simply put, will power supplies continue to exist in order to meet the current, massive U.S. demand for electricity?  At the very least, the EPA’s mandate poses a risk to grid stability, since roughly 40 percent of electricity in the United States comes from coal-fired power generation. Under the new regulations from the EPA, many of the nation’s coal-fire power 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, though, 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, 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 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.  It’s the reason that state utility commissions and regulators from 22 states have sent formal comments to the EPA expressing concern that the Clean Power Plan will jeopardize dependable and economical electricity supplies. The bottom line is that the U.S. needs a diversified power portfolio, including coal, to meet the nation’s electricity needs, and state governors should reject the EPA’s plan as risky and impractical.

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

See the article here.

 

States Will Have Diminishing Roles Under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Via renewablesbiz.com:

Terry Jarrett

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has been saying repeatedly that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants give states flexibility. “We’re particularly interested in making sure states and utilities can achieve emissions reductions along a flexible glide path so that they can meet their targets,” she said recently. “Flexibility is the key to this proposal.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Far from being flexible, the Clean Power Plan usurps the authority long held by states to determine their own energy policies.

At its core, the Clean Power Plan is nothing more than a Federal power-grab to control how electricity is generated and dispatched. Traditionally, states have set energy policies that require utilities to use low cost resource planning to generate electricity so prices remain affordable and keep the electric grid reliable.

The Clean Power Plan turns this sound strategy on its head. Under the EPA’s plan, coal, currently the most affordable and abundant fuel used to generate electricity, will be phased out and higher priced renewable energy, like wind, will take its place. Carbon resource planning will replace low cost resource planning. Grid reliability and cost will become subordinate to EPA’s environmental goals as they pursue the President’s green energy agenda. The generation of electricity will become more costly and less diverse, and states will have no power to stop it. Consumers will pay higher electric bills and face the possibility of blackouts, especially during times of peak usage.

Legal experts have begun to sound the warning. Harvard University Constitutional Law Professor Laurence A. Tribe, in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 16, said, “EPA’s plan will force States to adopt policies that will raise energy costs and prove deeply unpopular, while cloaking those policies in the Emperor’s garb of state “choice” – even though in fact the polices are compelled by EPA. Such sleight-of-hand offends democratic principles by avoiding political transparency and accountability.” Professor Tribe further testified that the plan exceeds the EPA’s authority under federal law and makes states subservient to Washington on energy and environmental matters.

This is significant because by and large, state utility and energy regulators are more accountable to the citizens in their states. Utility regulators are elected by a vote of the people in many states. In states where they are appointed, they must receive state legislative approval or confirmation for the most part. By contrast, the EPA’s vast Federal bureaucracy is anonymous and accountable to no one.

While not perfect, states have done a pretty good job over the last century to keep electricity prices affordable and the grid reliable. Allowing the EPA to gain control our nation’s electric system is terrible public policy and the height of folly. States should just tell the EPA, “no thanks.”

See the article here.

EPA’s Energy Takeover Will Hit Alabama Families Where It Hurts: Their Wallets

Via Yellowhammernews.com:

In the torrent of overreaching directives coming from Washington to the states, Alabamians may not be aware of the ongoing effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to sidestep Congress and stage a takeover of American energy. Not only are these regulations likely unconstitutional, but they would have a particularly negative impact on Alabama’s economy and our most vulnerable citizens.

Late last year, the Obama Administration announced a sweeping new regulatory scheme, the Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing carbon emissions. The Plan would force electric suppliers to: 1) spend money on so-called efficiency projects that produce less energy at higher costs, 2) invest in unproven renewable energy projects that produce less energy than less-expensive, conventional methods, 3) artificially limit the amount of electricity customers can use, 4) operate gas-fired power plants even if other, less expensive energy sources are available, and 5) unjustifiably deny consumers access to existing, lower cost coal-fired plants that were paid for through current low rates. If a state does not comply, a “federal plan” will be imposed.

As Attorney General Strange recently testified before the U.S. Senate, the Plan ignores well-established limits of its executive authority under the Clean Air Act and aims to fundamentally alter the way America produces and uses energy. This latest executive overreach will lead to enormous uncertainty about the way many states, including Alabama, produce and use energy and will give rise to harmful economic effects.

Not only will the cost of energy go up, unduly harming those on fixed incomes, but it will directly increase the cost of many goods and services. There are even concerns of threats to energy grids during peak months. Nevertheless, the Obama Administration has largely ignored these likely consequences and has gone to great lengths to disguise the negative economic, social, and reliability impacts that its new regulations will have.

For Alabama, the EPA ruling requires the state’s power plants to cut carbon emissions by 27 percent by 2030. To put that in perspective, consider this: over half of all the electricity Alabama Power generates in the state comes from coal-fired plants and more than 16,000 Alabama jobs are dependent upon the coal industry, which has an estimated $1.3 billion positive economic impact on the state.

The story gets even worse for the individual family. A November 2014 study by Energy Venture Analysis indicates the EPA’s proposed rule would increase the average annual Alabama household energy bills by more than $800 (or 36%) in 2020. In Alabama, EPA’s plan would grow the total annual cost of energy to almost $15 billion in 2020. That is a $5.2 billion annual cost increase for energy in Alabama.

These costs will deal an especially heavy blow to households earning less than $10,000 per year. Nationally, those families already spend an astounding 60-80 percent of their income on energy. Even households earning between $10,000 and $30,000 per year still spend more than 20 percent of their income on energy.

In short, the EPA is attempting to make fundamental and irreversible changes to American energy production that will jeopardize Alabama families’ economic well-being by making states do what the EPA cannot. While environmental stewardship is vital, ceding more power to the federal government rarely produces the desired results. Economic growth, environmental stability, and energy reform are best achieved through open markets and innovation.

Attorney General Strange joined 11 other attorneys general last August in suing the EPA to block implementation of its costly and controversial carbon emission rule which will force Alabamians to live in the dark in order to satisfy the Obama Administration’s political agenda.

As was noted in the Wall Street Journal just this week, “the more states that refuse to give in to the EPA’s demands, the more likely it is that the agency will be forced to hold back the most burdensome elements of its Clean Power Plan.” The Alabama Attorney General’s Office and the Alabama Policy Institute are united in the fight against this most recent, brazen attempt by the federal government to coerce state action while dismissing the very real threats that these regulations pose to our economy and citizens.

Katherine Robertson is the Vice President of the Alabama Policy Institute, and Luther Strange is the Alabama Attorney General.

See the article here.

The Clean Power Plan: Not a Viable Solution for the American Worker

Via insidesources.com:

by John Roeber

By now, you’ve probably read about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Clean Power Plan,” and maybe even what it will mean for consumers, businesses, and anyone else who uses electricity in their daily life.

On its face, the Clean Power Plan is a set of state-based targets for reductions in carbon emissions. More accurately, the CPP is a backdoor attempt to shut down coal-fired generation in the US.

Needless to say, telling and forcing states how to generate electricity is a whole new form of federal overreach, but more than that, the EPA seems blissfully ignorant of – or unconcerned by – the devastating impact these rules will have on hardworking American families. The ripple effect of these regulations will go far beyond the jobs destroyed when businesses have to choose between laying workers off or closing their doors, and they’ll hit union members and their families particularly hard.

As a recently retired Boilermaker, I’m relying on my union pension to see my wife and me through our golden years. But pensions don’t survive unless they can recharge these funds with current contributions from current work. Many Boilermakers work at power plants that the CPP will force out of business; that, in turn, means that there will be fewer Boilermakers paying into our union pension fund, raising serious questions about its long-term solvency.

Those who support the Clean Power Plan refuse to acknowledge the good-paying, sustainable middle class jobs that their policies are destroying. They also conventionally gloss over the lack of reliability inherent in renewable generation today. Coal-fired power plants are dependable no matter the conditions, and our economy runs on certainty.

Our elected officials see the costs, the problems coming with the CPP, and the massive job losses we are facing, but they continue to barter away our livelihoods for a feel-good notion that America must bear the financial brunt of global carbon reduction policies no matter the cost.

Elected officials have the opportunity to prove they support American jobs by withdrawing or substantially overhauling the Clean Power Plan, and replacing it with policies that will keep electricity affordable and protect all workers and retirees. Sensible solutions to global carbon reduction are available. But all parties must first find common ground on a real global solution that doesn’t cripple the American economy.

See the article here.

Why States Should Boycott the Federal Clean Power Plan

Via The Wall Street Journal:

Better for states not to comply with the EPA’s plans than to go along and absolve the feds of accountability for the mess.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) set off a firestorm recently when he advised states not to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. Yet that advice isn’t as radical as his detractors make it sound. As a state public utilities commissioner who deals with the effects of federal regulations on a regular basis, I also recommend that states not comply.

Proposed last summer and with a final rule due in June, the Clean Power Plan aims to reduce overall U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. Each state must cut its emissions by a different amount, ranging from an 11% reduction in North Dakota to 72% in Washington, using a baseline established by the EPA.

From the EPA’s perspective, states have two options for achieving these reductions. The agency’s preferred option is for states to comply and create their own State Implementation Plans, or SIPs, which would allow the feds to share the blame for the ensuing electricity-rate increases and destabilized energy grid.

The other option, which Sen. McConnell and I support, is refusal to comply, at which point the EPA would impose a Federal Implementation Plan that risks even greater harm. The EPA designed this threat to force state lawmakers into compliance. But while letting the feds call the shots may seem risky, it will force them to own the individual implementation plans and the overall regulation. This also places the feds in a legally tenuous position that is fraught with political repercussions.

States choosing to comply with the regulation have until next summer to submit their SIPs. They can achieve emissions reductions through four “building blocks”—reducing coal use, increasing natural-gas use, using more renewable and nuclear energy, and enhancing energy-efficiency standards.

No matter which building blocks the states use, electricity rates are expected to soar. According to a recent study by NERA Economic Consulting, electricity costs will increase by as much as $366 billion between 2017 and 2031, with 43 states seeing double-digit rate increases each year. Coal-dependent states like Utah, Wyoming and Montana will see their rates increase the most—an estimated 20%, 18% and 16%, respectively, each year. Less coal-dependent states will likely see their rates increase by around 10%.

Moreover, in a 2014 report the North American Electric Reliability Corp. warned of threats to the stability of the U.S. energy grid as the regulation moves toward full implementation in 2030. “Constructing the resource additions, as well as the expected transmission enhancements,” NERC said, “may represent a significant reliability challenge given the constrained time period for implementation.”

Any state that doesn’t comply will be assigned a federal plan. But the problem for the EPA is that the federal government lacks the legal authority under either the Constitution or the Clean Air Act to enforce most of the regulation’s “building blocks” without states’ acquiescence. This severely limits the EPA’s ability to tailor a federal plan to a state’s unique needs.

Any federal plan will likely rely heavily on building block No. 1—reducing coal usage—which will require draconian cuts to the number of coal-reliant power plants in noncompliant states. The likely result will be even greater electricity-rate increases than if states were to draft their own plans.

Proponents of the Clean Power Plan therefore argue that any state lawmakers who oppose the regulation—not the EPA that created it—will be responsible for higher energy costs. As such, they argue, states opposed to the EPA’s demands should comply with the regulation to prevent even greater harm.

This argument should be dismissed out of hand. While the short-term effects may be painful, the long-term consequences of submitting to this federal power grab are far worse.

For one, compliant states will enter into a “Mother may I?” relationship with the federal government. Not only will the initial SIP require the EPA’s blessing, so will any future modifications. This gives the EPA de facto veto power over any proposed state energy regulations, thus centralizing all energy decisions in Washington.

Compliance also would absolve the federal government of accountability once the disasters of this regulation begin to unfold. The regulation is designed so states will share blame with the EPA when electricity rates skyrocket. If federal regulators want to raise Americans’ electricity bills by thousands of dollars each year, they can do that. State lawmakers would be wise to let them walk that road alone.

The more states that refuse to give in to the EPA’s demands, the more likely it is that the agency will be forced to hold back the most burdensome elements of its Clean Power Plan. This could mean anything from nonenforcement to amending provisions of the regulation to mitigate their impact.

All of this assumes the regulation will ultimately go into effect, which is far from certain. Thirteen states are challenging the plan in federal court as unconstitutional and in violation of the Clean Air Act. Such liberal legal scholars as Harvard Law School’s Laurence Tribe have supported this position.

With the first SIPs not due until June 2016, state lawmakers still have plenty of time to weigh their options. As they do, they should understand the long-term implications of their final decision. Giving in to Washington’s demands might seem like the easy option now, but it will ultimately do far more harm in the long run.

Mr. Hill is a director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority.

See the article here.

State AGs Take EPA to Court Over Proposed “Clean Power” Plan

Via Hot Air:

The EPA is moving full steam ahead with their plans to clamp down on coal production in the name of reducing carbon emissions, regardless of how it impacts American energy independence or the costs which will be passed on to consumers. (And “full steam ahead” is probably an apt bit of gallows humor in this case, since we may be back to running on wood burning steam engines soon if the EPA has their way.) But that might change now that the D.C. circuit court has heard arguments from 26 state Attorneys General who are seeking to preemptively stop the regulations from going into effect. Their argument, which comes at a rather unusual stage of the normal process for rules implementation, is a compelling one and seeks to prevent entirely predictable harm to consumers and the grid.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey penned an op-ed earlier this monthexplaining why he was moving forward with this request.

On April 16, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear arguments on two separate but related lawsuits filed by numerous states and energy companies in the wake of last June’s proposed rule. The lawsuits contend that the rule and EPA’s compliance threats are illegal.

This case is vitally important to the nation. If the EPA’s proposed rule is permitted to go forward, it will cause great harm to the states and their citizens. The agency’s threats to finalize the plan this summer already have had a dampening effect on states, the energy industry, and its employees.

Uncertainty is rife. Utility companies are currently deciding whether to invest in new technologies to make plants compliant, or to scrap certain power plants altogether. Regardless of what utilities ultimately decide, taxpayers and consumers will foot the bill, as EPA’s regulations create an overreliance on other sources of energy to meet base-load power demand.

The reason this request is out of the ordinary – and why it was such a significant moment for the court to even hear the case – is that it is traditionally almost impossible to challenge a federal rule before it’s in place. Usually you have to wait for bad policy to actually begin screwing things up before you can go to court because you have to be able to show damages from the regulation and find someone with standing to bring the challenge. In this case, however, the science (well.. just the math, really) makes the case for them. If you put energy providers in such an untenable position that they will have no choice but to either shut down or face ruinous losses, jobs will go away and the energy available on the already strained American grid will decrease. This isn’t long division, folks.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity points out how extraordinary it is for the courts to agree to hear a challenge to a ruling which hasn’t gone into effect yet.

“The mere fact that the court has agreed to hear arguments challenging a regulation before it is finalized is monumental. We are seeing history in the making today as industry and Attorneys General come together to protect consumers and businesses from regulations that threaten the future of America’s economy,” said Mike Duncan, president and CEO of ACCCE. “The EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan will wreak havoc on American consumers and businesses through skyrocketing electricity costs, job losses and a weakened grid. This administration is usurping the traditional lawmaking authority of the states and gambling with our nation’s economic future, all in an attempt to piece together a highly politicized presidential climate legacy.”

So how many jobs are we talking about? Probably more than you think, and certainly more than the EPA will ever admit.

More than 90 coal plants could be closed with jobs that support mining and power stations also being eradicated by U.S. rules to cut carbon emissions. A report by the conservative American Action Forum research group argues that the federal government has not fully considered the implications of these new rules…

According to the report by the American Action Forum however, nearly 300 000 jobs could be lost including 80 000 in the energy sector and the rest in secondary jobs that support those workers, such as in manufacturing and services.

These regulations are mired in questions which go far beyond whether or not they would actually achieve any productive results. More than two dozen states have weighed in, saying that the EPA doesn’t even have the legal authority to regulate CO2 emissions in this fashion. One Harvard Law School professor (!) has even spoken up, saying, “After studying the only legal basis offered for the EPA’s proposed rule, I concluded that the agency is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority.”

When progressives lose Harvard, they’ve nearly lost the war.

Executive overreach is a hallmark of the Obama administration as the President attempts to reshape the world through the power of the pen and the phone. But it can only go so far before the other two branches attempt to grab hold of the rudder. (Hopefully, anyway.) Congress has already gotten involved, but now the judicial branch needs to exert their authority as well. This case may be the first solid step in that direction.

See the article here.

McConnell: EPA Climate Rule a Disaster Worth Fighting Against

Via the Lexington Herald-Leader:

The Herald-Leader’s recent attempt to equate those who work in the Kentucky coal fields — along with those of us who support and defend their way of life — with the Southern plantation owners who once enriched themselves off the backs of slaves is a depressing new low.

It’s no secret that liberal progressives have a hard time moderating their passions or prioritizing outrage. But drawing a moral equivalence between America’s original sin of slavery and the fight for Kentucky coal reveals a profound lack of moral seriousness — not to mention a troubling indifference to an industry that keeps this commonwealth and this country running.

The irony in these tone-deaf attacks is that some Senate Democrats whose extreme anti-coal position the Herald-Leader presumably supports are currently filibustering a bill that would keep women and children from being sold into trafficking rings.

I must have missed the paper’s strong condemnation of these Democrats for their callous indifference to a modern form of slavery.

The fact is the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed energy regulation would hit the poorest Kentuckians hardest, since the likely increase in electricity costs that follows would be hardest for them to absorb. It would cost our overall economy an estimated $2 billion, and put thousands of our neighbors out of work. Those who support it are taking the polar opposite of a “progressive” stand.

Meanwhile, efforts to get other nations to comply with similar standards are going nowhere.

A recent climate agreement brokered by the Obama administration between the U.S. and China allows China to continue to emit carbon at current levels for 15 more years, even as America heavily regulates its own. That’s not what I call a fair deal for Kentucky families — especially when EPA officials can’t point to a single measurable benefit their proposed rule would have.

The Herald-Leader may be ratcheting up the rhetoric because the law and facts are so clearly against them. But my recent appeal to the nation’s governors, urging them to resist the Obama administration’s request to establish aggressive carbon-cutting targets, isn’t rooted in economic concerns, as they allege. It’s rooted in an honest reading of the law and the U.S. Constitution and years of listening to the concerns and anxieties of the constituents across the state.

On the constitutional question, no less a liberal luminary than President Barack Obama’s Harvard law professor, Laurence Tribe, agrees with me. As Tribe put it in recent testimony before Congress: “… burning the Constitution is one thing we should not do as part of our national energy policy.”

Yet faced with the fact that their liberal fantasies are in conflict with the law and the Constitution, opposed by the public, and inimical to the interests of struggling Kentuckians, the Herald-Leader decided to make an empty and angry appeal to the judgment of “history,” which somehow always seems to be perfectly aligned with the policy goals of liberal Democrats.

The editorial’s only other argument is an appeal to selective opinion polls, which is a disservice to readers. Other recent polls show that a majority of Americans feel the nation cannot afford the job losses and high costs likely to be associated with the administration’s proposed EPA rule. Further, large majorities want our country to have a balanced approach to energy that includes the use of coal — a result that’s in direct opposition to the EPA proposal.

However you look at it, the EPA’s new climate rule is a disaster, and I won’t stand idly by while the administration tries to ram it past my constituents in an illegal or unconstitutional manner. Nor will I stand idly by without defending Kentuckians from lost jobs and higher energy bills.

No one can predict the verdicts of history, but here’s one thing you can be sure of: I will continue to wage this battle against the EPA on behalf of my constituents, and it’s a fight I intend to win.

Sen. Mitch McConnell is majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

See the article here.

 

Louisiana Joins Other States In Fight Against EPA Emissions Proposals

By Gregory Roberts

 — A federal court should block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from issuing its proposed rule to limit carbon emissions, lawyers for a coalition of Louisiana and other states and for the coal industry told judges Thursday — but even the challengers to the rule acknowledged the court would be breaking new legal ground if it honored their request to intervene in midstream.

 And the unprecedented nature of the plea could represent a high hurdle for the EPA opponents to overcome, based on comments by judges during oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“You’re inviting us into a morass,” Judge Thomas Griffith told West Virginia Solicitor General Elbert Lin, arguing for the state coalition.

“Nothing is final,” Griffith said. “We typically wait until we have a final rule.”

And Judge Brett Kavanaugh said, “For us to get in the middle of this before that happens seems highly unusual.”

But Lin said EPA officials have made it clear they intend to push ahead with a power-generation regulatory program “from plant to plug” that is itself unprecedented in its scope.

“We think their mind is made up,” he said.

Geoffrey Barnes, attorney for the coal-mining Murray Energy Co. of Ohio, said, “The industry is suffering tremendous harm because of the cloud of uncertainty that’s been placed over the entire program.

“It’s a bit like the sword of Damocles, which doesn’t have to be dropped to have effect.”

The third judge on the panel, Karen LeCraft Henderson, expressed more sympathy for the challengers, making reference to the “extraordinary” length of time it takes states to prepare for the imposition of such a rule.

Lawyers for the federal government argued that the EPA is still taking public comments on the proposed rule and its ultimate form is unknown. The agency is expected to issue a final rule this summer, and any legal challenge before then is premature, they said.

At one point, Griffith did question if the EPA is sincere about considering comments, in light of statements by agency officials about their determination to move ahead with the regulation.

There is no set schedule for a decision by the three judges, all of whom were appointed by Republican presidents.

The proposed rule, announced last June, is aimed primarily at emissions of carbon dioxide. It forms a key element of Democratic President Barack Obama’s effort to address climate change.

The challenged proposal applies to existing privately owned power-generating plants, with a goal to reduce that industry’s carbon emissions by 30 percent nationwide by 2030. But the goals vary by state: For Louisiana, the reduction target is 39 percent, in part because of the relative availability in the state of natural gas, a cleaner fuel for power generation than coal, now used in four power plants in Louisiana.

The proposed rule would cost Louisiana industry $4 billion to $6 billion from 2020 to 2030 to comply with, the state’s attorney general, Buddy Caldwell, said after the court session, which he attended but did not participate in.

“Who’s going to pay these huge costs?’’ Caldwell asked. “The ratepayers.”

Electricity rates are projected to increase by 20 percent if the rule is imposed, he said.

“Carbon dioxide is not poison,” he said. “It’s something that we breathe out.”

Louisiana is one of 14 states to join West Virginia in challenging the proposed rule. Supporting the EPA are 13 other states and the District of Columbia.

In the court session, Laurence Tribe, a politically liberal Harvard Law professor who has called Obama the best student he ever had, argued on behalf of Peabody Energy Corp. that the court would be justified to step in now because the EPA bases its authority to issue the rule on a flawed legal foundation. The rule-making represents an unconstitutional expansion of executive power at the expense of Congress, Tribe said.

Caldwell said that when EPA officials engage in the kind of regulatory overreach represented by the proposed rule, “They become a monster.”

See more here.

EPA Could Put Nearly 300,000 Jobs On The Chopping Block

Via Townhall.com:

Combating climate change has been a priority of the Obama administration, and there’s a new regulation to be released this summer that outlines significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. It aims to cut them by nearly 30 percent between 2025-2030. Based on the calculations by American Action Forum (AAF), this new regulation would force one-fifth of coal plants to close at an initial cost of 80,000 jobs. Yet, AAF also noted “secondary employment impacts,” which could soar to nearly 300,000 jobs lost, which is roughly the population if Cincinnati:

Buried in one of EPA’s <href=”#!documentdetail;d=epa-hq-oar-2013-0602-0459″>technical support documents, among more than<href=”#!docketbrowser;rpp=25;po=0;d=epa-hq-oar-2013-0602;dct=sr%252bo”>1,600 other supporting documents for the proposed rule, the administration detailed the economic implications of complying with building blocks one (heat rate improvements at coal plants) and two (increased natural gas dispatch rates and decreased coal usage).

…AAF used the 49 GW figure [the estimated amount of power lost with this new regulation] and EPA’s eGRID data to find the least efficient affected power plants, as measured by heat rate and pounds of CO2 emitted per megawatt hour (CO2/MWh). Anticipating that the least efficient coal facilities are most at risk for closure, AAF identified the 93 least efficient power plants that produced about 50 GW of power.

PA predicts that if states adopt only options one and two of the administration’s plan for power plants, 80,000 energy industry jobs will be lost to EPA climate regulations.

For perspective, 80,000 jobs is larger than the population of Napa, CA. But this is only the first part of the story. EPA never quantifies the secondary employment effects of these lost jobs. A 2009PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that one energy job supports 3.7 additional jobs. Using a jobs multiplier of 3.7, applied to the 80,000 lost jobs that EPA concedes, yields about 296,000 lost jobs across the U.S.

To put the figure of 296,000 lost jobs in context, the average annual pay in the “fossil fuel electric power generation” industry is $103,645 and the average coal mining salary is $82,068. This means that by 2030, the economy could lose $27.7 billion in wages, larger than the GDP ofJamaica. However, nowhere in EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) do they monetize the loss of these jobs or wages.

The spread of the job loss won’t be equal either. Virginia could potentially see over 7,000 jobs lost due to this new regulation.

“While coal extraction in the Appalachian Basin is far more labor-intensive than coal extraction in the western U.S., western states account for a greater percentage of coal generation. The result is job losses distributed across centers of production,” according to AAF.

So far, West Virginia and Texas have shouldered the bulk of the job losses from existing EPA regulations on power plants. The facts, figures, and costs can also be found on their Regulation Rodeo portion of their site. Since 2008, the total number of new finalized regulations is 2,597, the cost amounts to $733 billion dollars, and that adds up to 500,787,395 in paperwork hours. You can go through a line-by-line account of the red tape coming out of Washington.

As I’ve written previously, we’ve experienced the calmest Hurricane season in 30 years, the quietest tornado season in 60 years; the creation of 19,000 Manhattan islands worth of sea ice, and the Arctic Ice Cap has grown by 533,000 square miles. In 2007, the BBC warned the cap could vanish by 2013. Oh, and we’re at the most industrialized point in human history–and air quality couldn’t be better, according to the EPA. It’s hard to justify the potential cannibalization of nearly 300,000 jobs with such figures.

Oh, and Americans really don’t care about climate change; they care about jobs and the economy.

As for the EPA, well, they seem to be wasting taxpayer funds on research equipment that they haven’t used in years (via Citizens Against Government Waste):

A March 16, 2015 EPA Inspector General (IG) report found that $2.95 million of sampled EPA research equipment went unused for two to 14 years in the Office of Research and Development (ORD). The IG reviewed “capital equipment,” defined as a piece that costs more than $75,000, at three of ORD’s 14 research facilities nationwide.The IG “determined the date the equipment was last utilized,” and found that 30 of the 99 pieces of capital equipment reviewed, or 30 percent, hadn’t been utilized for between two and 14 years. The report provided a harsh assessment of the agency’s cost-controls, concluding, “The EPA does not manage its scientific equipment as a business unit or enterprise. ORD managers and staff are not aware of federal property management requirements.” This latest review followed previous reports from the IG, the Government Accountability Office, and the National Academy of Sciences on unused EPA equipment since 2011.

 

10 Reasons States Should Just Say No To Epa’s Power Grab

Via the American Energy Alliance Blog:

Since the EPA announced its regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, what EPA euphemistically calls the “Clean Power Plan,” states across the country have been working tirelessly to assess their options. Many have found they are in a lose-lose situation. No matter what they do, their state will be drastically impacted. Recently, Majority Leader McConnell wrote an op-ed and then a letter to all 50 Governors urging them to think twice about acquiescing to EPA’s overly burdensome mandates.

The states appear to be listening. As of now, twenty states have passed or are considering some legislation pushing back on the EPA’s proposed rule. Several of these efforts involve binding legislation requiring legislative approval and Attorney General review of any State Implementation Plan (SIP) while many others impose limitations and reports studying the detrimental impact of the proposed regulation. Fourteen states have joined the lawsuit challenging the EPA’s authority to promulgate the rule, which is being heard this Thursday in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Finally, thirteen governors have written the EPA explaining that the agency’s proposed action exceeds federal authority and puts state compliance in question.

Many states are still weighing their options until the final rule is released later this year. Here are 10 reasons why the states should heed Sen. McConnell’s advice to resist EPA’s power grab:

1. The rule is extremely costly for the American people, particularly those on fixed incomes – The EPA severely underestimates how much this regulation will cost the economy and the American people. Even the non-partisan Government Accountability Office criticized their analysis. Two independent analyses point to significant costs. A study done by NERA Economic Consulting found the rule would cost at least $366 billion by 2031 and residents of 43 states would see annual double-digit electricity bill increases. A second study by Energy Venture Analysis found that combined electric and natural gas bills would rise by $680 annually per family.

2. While the rule comes at great cost, it accomplishes very little in environmental or health benefits – The stated purpose of this regulation is to tackle climate change, yet the EPA did not even attempt to measure the climate benefits of the rule. This is probably because EPA’s own models show the rule does almost nothing to address climate change: it limits global warming by just 0.02 degrees and lowers sea level rise by just 0.01 inch. The administration also claims the rule will improve public health, particularly focusing on kids’ asthma. This conveniently ignores the fact that carbon dioxide emissions have nothing to do with asthma. It also conveniently ignores that while conventional pollutants have steadily decreased over the past several decades, asthma levels have continued to rise, leaving some to question how these two could possibly be related. As a USA Today piece recently suggested, perhaps the President should be more concerned about the impact of his smoking on his daughter’s asthma than climate change.

3. EPA wants a federal takeover of the electricity system – Under the guise of state flexibility, the EPA regulatory scheme would make fundamental and irreversible changes to our electricity system that will centralize power in Washington and drive up electricity rates. This unprecedented rulemaking discards the principles of cooperative federalism, relegating states to the role of “marionettes dancing to the tune of a federal puppeteer,” as liberal law professor Lawrence Tribe has testified.

4. EPA is offloading responsibility for this takeover on the states – Not only is EPA centralizing power, but the agency is also trying to get states to put their stamp of approval on it. The regulatory framework is intentionally designed to get states to take the lead so the EPA’s hands do not get as dirty. Under this approach EPA does not want to be held accountable for the coming disastrous outcomes. This is similar to Obamacare, where the feds wanted states to set up their own health insurance exchanges so they would own some of the fallout for the failure.

5. States that enforce these mandates are ceding authority to the EPA – EPA is attempting to expand its authority under the Clean Air Act using this regulation. If successful at using this framework to take over the electricity system, EPA will be empowered to use it to go after other sectors of the economy (i.e. refiners, manufacturing). States that cede their authority are helping EPA establish a precedent that will be used again down the road to force states to cede even more sovereignty to federal bureaucrats. Once the feds takeover, they rarely ever return authority to the states.

6. The emissions targets are widely viewed to be unfeasible – In addition, the targets EPA has laid out for the states are widely seen as unfeasible, if not impossible, to meet. The power plant efficiency number of 6% is widely considered undoable. Since power plant operators have been so effective at boosting plant efficiency, experts suggest 2% is the most that is still possible. There are also questions about whether it is possible to force natural gas plants to operate at 70% when the national average in 2012 stood at 46%. Lastly, an annual 1.5% demand reduction could be widely off if energy use does not decrease, but rather goes up, as the Energy Information Administration predicts. All considered, there is reasonable fear that meeting these targets is impossible and could potentially threaten the reliability of the grid, or at the very least severely strain it.

7. The EPA does not have the resources to administer a multi-state plan – If the targets are seen as impossible, then a state should not harm their citizens by trying to comply with unreasonable mandates. Instead, states should call the EPA’s bluff and refuse to cede their authority or do the EPA’s bidding. If the EPA wants to do this, then EPA should own the consequences. If multiple states just say no, the limited resources at the EPA would be overwhelmed trying to administer the program.

8. State resistance would severely slow down implementation – Additionally, state rejection of this regulatory framework would severely slow down implementation. EPA’s lack of resources will make it difficult for the agency to meet deadlines, especially if they have to develop and implement multiple state plans. This gives the legal process more time to play out, increasing the likelihood that the Supreme Court could invalidate EPA’s rule before it is fully implemented. Even Professor Tribe has said EPA’s rule amounts to “burning the Constitution.”

9. State rejection of this rule will help build public support for reform – A serious effort by state leaders to fight back against this unconstitutional regulation would significantly help build public support for needed reforms at the Federal level. Survey work done last summer by AEA showed that public support for the proposed rule dropped significantly when individuals were informed about the negligible environmental benefits and the high economic cost of the rule.

10. Federal elected officials and State elected officials should work together to protect prosperity – Some have argued that McConnell should refrain from engaging the states on this issue. That is a ridiculous argument. The American people are well served when state leaders and federal leaders work together to protect their interest, especially in this case. Governors and state lawmakers should be working with Congressional leaders to fight this federal takeover.

Despite complaints from anti-energy interests on the left, Majority Leader McConnell is taking responsible action. While the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate, Congress rejected cap-and-trade legislation because of public outcry of the costs on consumers. Not content to let the will of the people stand, the Obama administration is attempting a legally dubious end run around Congress. Given all of this the Majority Leader has every reason to be involved. He is not alone in this fight. Recently, a coalition of over 30 groups from around the country wrote a letter to McConnell applauding him for his efforts. It’s time for state leaders to heed his advice and reject the EPA’s unprecedented assault on American families.

See more here.

Halting the EPA’s Power Grab

America is the land of the free, but environmentalists are determined to rule the air. The Environmental Protection Agency persists with expensive and unnecessary schemes to regulate harmless carbon dioxide — the stuff we and the plants breathe — and several energy companies and coal-producing states are making a final appeal to the courts to halt a deliberate attempt to seize authority the EPA was never meant to have.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear a petition Thursday from 15 states, mostly in the Midwest and the East, that would feel the impact of the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 as a favor to the global “green” lobby. (Plants, which must have these “harmful” emissions to survive, would not be pleased).

The plaintiffs are asking the court to issue an “extraordinary writ” to halt the agency’s implementation of the new air-quality standards, which would force the shuttering of coal-fired power plants unable afford the necessary technological upgrades. The EPA scheme would pave the way for a major conversion to unreliable wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy so beloved by the environmental left. The American consumer would pay billions of dollars more for the electricity.

If the court rules for the EPA, the Constitution gets further shredding. “It is a remarkable example of executive overreach and an administrative agency’s assertion of power beyond its statutory authority,” says Laurence Tribe, the lawyer for the plaintiffs. “Indeed, the Proposed Rule raises serious constitutional questions.” These are the words of the man who tried to teach constitutional law to Barack Obama at Harvard. He is the lawyer in this case for the Peabody Energy Corp.

Mr. Tribe observes that by the agency’s own reckoning, the rule would eliminate the burning of coal for electricity generation in 12 states. Such drastic measures are the result of the agency seizing authority based on an obscure section of the 1990 Clean Air Act. The plaintiffs say the act allows the EPA to regulate stationary sources of carbon dioxide; the EPA argues it is authorized to regulate both source and emission, adding muscle to schemes to drastically cut carbon dioxide nationwide. That, Mr. Tribe says, is overreach — appropriating power and authority rightly belonging to Congress.

The president’s knowledge of constitutional law suggests he studied the founding document only to learn how to subvert it. He might flunk Mr. Tribe’s course now.

See the article here.

Subcommittee Reviews Legislation to Protect Ratepayers from EPA’s Overreach

Via Energy & Commerce Committee:

WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy and Power Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), today held a hearing to examine a draft of the Ratepayer Protection Act. The draft legislation seeks to empower states to protect families and businesses from higher electricity rates and other harmful effects of EPA’s proposed rule regulating carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, referred to by the agency as the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The legislation would allow for completion of judicial review of any final rule before requiring states to comply and would also provide a safe harbor if the governor determines that implementation of a specific state or federal plan would have significant adverse effects on the state’s ratepayers or the reliability of its electricity system.

“I am convinced that this proposed rule is on very shaky legal ground and may end up being remanded or even vacated by the federal courts. I am also concerned that implementation of this rule risks serious economic harm that states would be prohibited from addressing. The Ratepayer Protection Act provides solutions to both these legal and implementation problems,” said Whitfield.

Members of the subcommittee questioned EPA Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe over the costs of the rule and impacts for ratepayers and reliability and underscored the need to provide states with regulatory relief. Witnesses representing residential, commercial, and industrial consumers and ratepayers later testified about the considerable electricity rate increases and subsequent negative impacts expected under EPA’s rule.

Energy economist Eugene Trisko testified about the impacts of higher electricity costs on households and families, particularly for the most vulnerable populations like the poor and elderly who spend a larger portion of their income on energy needs. Trisko summarized the findings of studies examining the impacts of energy costs on American households across 31 geographically diverse states. The studies found that families’ incomes are shrinking while energy costs are rising, and energy expenditures are now representing a great percentage of household budgets. The Clean Power Plan will result in further electricity prices increases, placing an even greater strain on budgets. Trisko’s testimony outlined the following key findings:

  • Recent consumer savings at the gas pump are being eroded by steady increases in electricity prices. Residential electricity represents 76 percent of total residential energy expenditures in the 31 states, on a household-weighted average basis.
  • From 2005 to 2014, residential electricity prices in the 31 states increased overall by a weighted average of 38 percent in current dollars.
  • Large electric price increases will result with the implementation of EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. A recent analysis by NERA estimates that the carbon rule will increase delivered electricity prices in the 31 states by 15 percent, on average, during the period 2017 to 2031.
  • These average price increases mean that electricity prices will be 15 percent higher, on average, each year under the Clean Power Plan than they would be without the CPP.  Peak year electric price increases during this period average 22 percent for the 31 states.
  •  Lower-income families are more vulnerable to energy costs than higher-income families because energy represents a larger portion of their household budgets. Data presented in the 31 state reports show that minorities and senior citizens are disproportionately represented among lower-income household.

To view a summary of the findings, click HERE.

In addition to the burden placed on cash-strapped American families, the energy price increases caused by the Clean Power Plan would hit states’ manufacturing sectors and energy-intensive industries. Paul Cicio, President of the Industrial Energy Consumers of America, praised the Ratepayer Protection Act for providing states with the necessary flexibility to protect their consumers and competiveness. “All costs of the proposed rule will be passed onto us, the consumer and will directly impact competitiveness and jobs. It is not prudent for states to make decisions, for example, to force the costly shutdown of coal-fired power plants to meet a compliance target, when the CPP could be substantially changed.” Cicio testified that the Clean Power Plan and other EPA regulations could drive industrial electricity prices up by 33.7 percent by 2025.

Lisa Johnson, CEO and General Manager of Seminole Electric Cooperative, Inc., testified on behalf of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. She explained the substantial harms from the rule, including the electricity price increases, threats to reliability and stranded assets for Florida consumers and the negative effects to the state’s fuel diversity. She testified that the Ratepayer Protection Act “will provide both Seminole, and the State of Florida, with significant protections against massive rate hikes and damage to the reliability of Florida’s grid due to EPA’s CPP.”

Kevin Sunday testified for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. He stressed the need for affordable, reliable energy and warned against the drastic economic effects of EPA’s rule. “Unfortunately, the EPA’s proposal threatens Pennsylvania’s biggest competitive advantage, as it will drastically change the way Pennsylvania produces and uses energy. This change is likely to come with a significant economic impact to the business community, as well as threaten reliability across the grid. Even more disturbingly, the significant costs of this rule by the EPA’s own admission will result in relatively small reductions in global emissions, likely soon to be eclipsed by development abroad.”

Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) concluded, “States can and should be a necessary check on EPA’s otherwise one-sided authority to change a state’s electricity system and do so without regard to the consequences. The Ratepayer Protection Act is a sensible approach to addressing the very serious problems with the administration’s plan. Washington does not always know best and I urge all of my colleagues to join this effort on behalf of jobs and affordable energy.”

See more here.

Editorial: Power Outage in DC a Harbinger of Things to Come

Via The Charleston Daily Mail: 

As power outages go, the one in the Washington, D.C. area last week was relatively minor.

But the outage didn’t seem minor to the dozens of people stranded on elevators, stuck deep in darkened Metro rail depots and to businesses forced to close early and lose revenue.

But thanks to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rush to judgment on coal-fired power generation, “relatively minor outages” like the one that affected Potomac Electric Power customers are likely to occur more often.

As every former West Virginia coal miner knows, the EPA is enforcing strict new regulations regarding electric power emissions, forcing the closure of 188 coal-burning power plants in the nation so far, including Appalachian Power’s Glasgow plant in the Upper Kanawha Valley.

Also closed in the recent years due to environmentalist pressure was a coal-burning power plant in Maryland whose existence might have provided a back up source of power during the D.C. outage.

But it appears that in its zest to vilify the coal industry and the people who make a living off of the nation’s least expensive and most abundant fossil fuel, the EPA didn’t think through the concepts of electric reliability and affordability.

“The EPA’s proposal is causing concern among those who provide electricity for a living,” wrote Warner Baxter, chairman, president and CEO of St. Louis-based Ameren Corp. in Monday’s Wall Street Journal.

Baxter said about one-third of America’s coal-fired plants will be retired by 2020, yet it takes years to site, permit, and construct replacement power plants “and EPA’s compliance time line does not account for this reality.”

But then again, accounting for reality has never been the strong point of the overly idealistic Obama administration.

“While the EPA’s desire to reduce carbon emissions is understandable, doing so should not jeopardize reliability or unnecessarily threaten the affordability of the national electricity supply,” Baxter concludes. “… The agency should pursue a more reasonable course on carbon policy.”

Yes, the EPA’s course should take into account electric reliability, affordability and the economic livelihood of the hardworking folks who provide the nation’s most abundant fuel source.

In the meantime, Americans everywhere should be prepared for higher electric rates and more frequent outages thanks to the EPA’s lack of foresight.

See the article here.

Guest Commentary: No Regulation Without Representation

Via The Denver Post:

By John Cooke and Jerry Sonnenberg

It’s always wise to be wary when Washington offers to do you a favor. As with the money Washington sends our way, there are almost always strings attached or a trap door hidden somewhere.

And so it is with the favor President Barack Obama did for states when he sought to impose a national Clean Power Plan through an EPA regulatory change, effectively taking control of power plants in all 50 states, in the name of combatting climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency imposed the benchmarks, because Washington always knows best, but it did states that favor by tossing in our laps the question of how to meet this seemingly impossible mandate under the breakneck timeline allowed.

That leaves Colorado free to write a carbon-reduction plan for our power plants that complies with the EPA orders, hopefully without ruining our economy or bankrupting utility ratepayers. That plan, whatever it eventually looks like, will have profound implications for Colorado’s economy.

That’s why Senate Republicans are offering Senate Bill 258, the Colorado Electric Consumers’ Protection Act, which will bring needed transparency and accountability to Colorado’s planning process. It requires that any state plan, before it’s submitted to the EPA, receives a full public airing and a thumbs-up (or thumbs-down) from our elected state legislators.

It’s not that we don’t trust the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to exercise care in how it writes Colorado’s plan. We just think this decision is too big, too critical, too potentially costly to leave in one state agency’s hands. Given the collective impacts this plan will have on all Coloradans, a collective, transparent decision is required, in which important details are openly debated and the representatives of the people have a say.

The more than 35 percent cut in power-plant emissions Colorado must make under the EPA mandate will come with serious costs and consequences. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that Obama’s climate mandates will cost the economy an average of 224,000 jobs per year, and lower U.S. gross domestic product by $51 billion per year, through 2030. One independent study predicted the plan will cost the average Colorado residential ratepayers $613 per year by 2020, while commercial users — meaning businesses — will see a 52 percent increase.

In order to meet the mandates, perfectly functional power plants could be shuttered prematurely, forcing construction of costly replacements. And the concentration of regulatory power required to force statewide compliance may profoundly change the way all Colorado utilities operate, whether public, private, municipal or co-op.

That such changes could be approved without wider review and full public debate is unthinkable and, frankly, undemocratic. Average Coloradans must have a seat at the table they don’t have now. Regulation without representation is as un-American as taxation without representation.

Specifically, our bill requires that, before the state can approve a plan with the EPA, that plan must be reviewed with full public hearings by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, in order to report probable impacts on utility rates, reliability and the state’s economy. And finally, the state plan must be approved by both houses of the legislature.

This process adds the transparency, accountability and public debate that’s totally lacking now. It puts the elected representatives of the people on the record, yes or no, so Coloradans know who stood where when the costs and consequences of complying with Obama’s radical climate crusade come crashing down.

State Sen. John Cooke represents Senate District 13. State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg represents Senate District 1.

See the article here.

 

The Dirty Secret of Obama’s Carbon Plan

Americans don’t give much thought to whether their electricity will be there when they need it. You flip a switch, the lights go on. Your phone charges up. The medical equipment in the emergency room does its job. Yet electric reliability, long a bedrock of this country’s prosperity and high standard of living, does not come as easily as its steady presence might suggest.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, a proposed regulation limiting carbon emissions from existing coal-fired plants, threatens to jeopardize the reliability that Americans and businesses have come to depend upon. The EPA proposal calls for states to cut emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. It also imposes aggressive interim targets starting in 2020 that will test states’ ability to meet these standards without disrupting service. For example, 39 states must achieve more than 50% of their final target by 2020.

Reliable power requires decades of careful planning. The appropriate amount and type of round-the-clock generation capacity, transmission and distribution lines must be finely balanced in advance to ensure the lights go on when a switch is flipped anywhere in the U.S. The EPA plan will significantly impair that planning process.

The EPA’s proposal is causing concern among those who provide electricity for a living. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission held an event in St. Louis on March 31, the last in a series of conferences on the implications of the plan. The North American Electric Reliability Corp., a nonprofit oversight group, has said the EPA plan could constitute “a significant reliability challenge, given the constrained time period for implementation.”

These concerns are driven in large part by the planned retirement, mostly thanks to the EPA’s carbon plan, of about one-third of America’s coal-fired power plants by 2020. This represents enough generating capacity to supply the residential electricity of about 57 million Americans. That’s a lot of power being taken off the grid in a very short period.

It takes years to site, permit and construct replacement power plants, and EPA’s compliance timeline does not account for this reality. For example, if a new gas-fired power plant must be built to meet the EPA’s 2020 interim target, all permitting and development would need to be completed by 2017. But that is impossible because state compliance plans might not even be submitted to the EPA until 2017 or 2018, and the agency has said it may take up to a year to approve them.

Beyond that, opening new natural-gas plants, as well as operating existing plants at higher levels, will require new pipeline infrastructure, and building natural-gas pipelines often takes five years or longer. More transmission lines will likely be needed to connect the new capacity to the grid. These projects can take 5-15 years. The point is that the 2020 interim targets are simply not achievable.

Like many utilities, my company, Ameren, has spent years developing a plan that achieves substantial carbon reductions without straining the grid or needlessly raising rates. With millions of people in Missouri and Illinois relying on us for safe, reliable and reasonably priced energy, we have to find responsible, practical ways to transition to a cleaner and more diverse portfolio. Our 20-year plan involves adopting a mix of coal, nuclear, natural gas and renewables, while improving energy efficiency, and reaches the EPA goal only five years later than the current plan—and at a staggering cost savings of $4 billion for our Missouri customers, according to company estimates.

A few solutions would significantly reduce the reliability and cost risks of the EPA’s proposed plan. A critical first step is that the EPA must replace its aggressive interim targets with a process that allows states to set their own paths toward the final goals. Each state should be allowed to tailor its compliance plan to local circumstances, balancing unique factors such as cost, fuel diversity and environmental benefits. In exchange for this flexibility, enhanced interim reporting requirements would help the EPA monitor the progress while providing a more accurate idea of the work under way—and challenges involved—in achieving the targets.

Beyond that, two safeguards should be added to the plan. First, it should include a mechanism to deal with reliability issues before a state’s plan is implemented. Such a mechanism would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to examine the effects of state-submitted plans on regional reliability. If issues are identified, the state should be allowed to resubmit a revised plan and potentially adjust its targets to maintain reliability.

Second, the EPA should incorporate a reliability safety valve that would operate throughout the compliance period if unforeseen events—such as tornadoes destroying a wind farm or extreme cold weather—require coal plants to operate at unanticipated levels. Owners of these coal plants need assurance that they will never be penalized for keeping the lights on.

Neither fallback measure is a substitute for addressing the EPA’s interim targets. While the EPA’s desire to reduce carbon emissions is understandable, doing so should not jeopardize reliability or unnecessarily threaten the affordability of the national electricity supply. There are better ways to achieve much the same end, and the agency should pursue a more reasonable course on carbon policy.

Mr. Baxter is chairman, president and CEO of St. Louis-based Ameren Corp.

See the article here.

EPA Regulations Hit Indiana Seniors

Via The StarPress:

Energy prices are falling. If you’ve filled up your tank recently, you know that the cost of gasoline has taken a tumble. Natural gas and coal are also cheaper than they were a year ago. That’s great news, but one type of energy is bucking the trend. The price of electricity — the energy we all depend on the most — continues to rise.

At first glance, the continuing climb in electricity prices seems baffling. After all, the coal and gas most commonly used to generate it are getting less expensive. To find the answer to the electricity price riddle, don’t look at energy markets. Look at Washington, D.C.

In recent years, the Obama administration has been pushing one regulation after another affecting electricity generation. Those regulations have forced utilities to make expensive changes to power plants and, in some cases, to shut down plants altogether.

Now, President Obama is planning the most ambitious new regulation of all. He has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require electric power generators to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions rates by up to 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Experts say that the costs involved in achieving that sweeping goal — new investment, new plants, new energy infrastructure — will certainly push power prices up even higher. The reliability of the electric power grid — already pushed to the edge — will also suffer. All this sacrifice will come for a drop in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions while global emissions continue to surge.

Indiana — which receives 87 percent of its electricity from coal plants — will be hit especially hard by the plan. According to recent economic analysis, the cost of electricity and natural gas in Indiana could rise by $20 billion by 2020. That’s a projected increase of $775 per household.

Unforgivably, the burden of these costs is going to fall disproportionately on those who can’t afford them. Folks on low or fixed incomes, like our seniors, will be hardest hit.

Many senior citizens are barely making ends meet on their fixed incomes. When the price of an absolute necessity like electricity goes up, they have to cut their spending elsewhere — sometimes on food, needed medications, or even heat. Choosing between staying warm or going hungry is a choice no one should have to make.

My organization, the 60 Plus Association, which represents 145,000 seniors in Indiana, recently polled Indiana residents 55 and older about their views on the nation’s energy future and the president’s emissions mandate. Seventy six percent of respondents expressed concern about regulatory action raising the cost of their energy bills and a strong majority said low energy prices should come before climate regulations.

President Obama power plan is a mistake. It’s a big, expensive regulatory plan that risks hurting people without even making a dent in the problem it’s supposed to address. That just doesn’t pass the Indiana common-sense test. Urge Gov. Mike Pence to say no to the EPA and the president. Affordable, reliable energy must come before a misguided climate crusade.

Jim Martin is chairman and founder of the 60 Plus Association.

See the article here.

 

The State Electricity Revolt

Via The Wall Street Journal:

Health care, Wall Street, the Internet—by the time President Obamaleaves office, there may not be much of the economy left for his successor to take over. The better news is that his attempt to do the same to the energy industry is meeting heavy resistance in the states.

The Environmental Protection Agency is finishing a rule—expected in June or July—that requires the states to meet carbon-reduction targets by reorganizing their “production, distribution and use of electricity,” as the EPA puts it. This is an unprecedented federal usurpation of what has been a state responsibility since the invention of the modern steam turbine in the 1880s.

States are normally allowed as much as three years to comply with EPA mandates that are far less complex than this one. But the EPA will instruct them to submit implementation plans by summer 2016 and make interim progress as soon as 2020. The rule is intended to impress the greendees of the Paris climate conference this year, so Mr. Obama can announce a global climate deal.

The plan hangs on an obscure section of the 44-year-old Clean Air Act. That law’s section 111(d) was well understood but the EPA has published a new interpretation of these several hundred words that runs 1,200 pages. No less a dean of legal liberalism than Harvard’s Larry Tribe is stunned by this attempt to nationalize U.S. electric generation.

States will be told to meet the targets using four “building blocks.” The first is uncontroversial: improving the efficiency of fossil-fuel power plants and installing pollution-control technology like smokestack scrubbers. But for the first time the EPA is also telling states to roam “outside the fence line” of power plants to force coal and eventually natural gas to shut down, mandate quotas for renewables like wind and solar, and impose energy conservation.

The problem is that the federal government has no legal power outside the fence line. Last year the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals slapped down the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s bid to claim authority over “demand response” on the electric grid.

Thus the EPA is trying to coerce the states into doing what it can’t do itself. Most will need to pass new laws or rush through new rules to comply, jammed into a single year. The EPA wants to embed policy changes that a Republican President couldn’t reverse and deny Governors and legislatures the time to think through the consequences. But some states are thinking, and they may tell the agency: No mas.

Under the cooperative federalism of the Clean Air Act, states are invited to draw up implementation plans for EPA approval. But they have no legal obligation to do so, because the feds cannot commandeer the states. The EPA can pursue a fallback federal plan if it doesn’t like what states do. But there is good reason for the states to band together, refuse to participate, and thus call the EPA’s bluff.

In particular, states would avoid making themselves complicit in dangerous behavior. Virtually everyone who understands the electric grid, from state utility commissions to the regional transmission operators, warns that the EPA’s ambitions threaten reliability. These apolitical organizations think brownouts or cascading blackouts are possible.

To take one example, the northeast blackout of 2003 cost about $13 billion, and the New York Independent Systems Operator now reports that the EPA’s reductions “cannot be sustained while maintaining reliable electric service to New York City.” It calls the plan “inherently unreasonable” that “no amount of flexibility can fix.” This is not Texas talking.

The section 111(d) rewrite will be litigated for years or decades and almost certainly resolved by the Supreme Court. The 2016 White House budget requests $52 million merely to hire lawyers to defend this single rule. It would be prudent for states to postpone cooperation until the lawsuits shake out, rather than spend billions of dollars now that may turn out to be unnecessary.

We also know from ObamaCare that the feds do not have the bandwidth to successfully reconstruct part of the economy without state participation. A mass state-by-state boycott, though risky, could limit some of the damage by overloading the EPA’s limited resources and personnel.

More to the point, the states ought to decline to lend political legitimacy to an extraordinary abuse of federal power. The EPA is not merely exercising the lawmaking that belongs to Congress but frustrating democratic accountability. If the EPA causes a blackout, then voters should understand that the EPA is the cause, not a Governor.

***

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging Governors to wait before cooperating, and the irony is that the White House is assailing him for “interfering” with state deliberations. The truth is that the EPA is attempting to steal state sovereignty in order to dominate everything from power plants to ceiling fans. The EPA’s imperiousness is creating the case for noncooperation. States can only protect their energy futures by declining to do the EPA’s dirty work.

See the article here.

Indian Coal Economy has Suffered Because of EPA Regs, Tribes Say

Via the Billings Gazette: 

CROW AGENCY — The coal economy on Indian reservations is being endangered by tougher Environmental Protection Agency clean air laws, tribal officials told U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., on Wednesday.

Members of the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Navajo tribes met with Daines for a Senate Indian Affairs Committee field hearing on “empowering Indian Country.” Coal mining dominated the discussion, with challenges related to clean air laws and Pacific Coast shipping ports for coal taking center stage.

“The EPA clean power program is creating problems for Crow Nation,” said Darrin Old Coyote, Crow tribal chairman. “The EPA did not consult with Crow Nation, did not consider the economic impacts on Crow Nation and did not provide a less obtrusive alternative.”

A year ago, the EPA rolled out plans to cut carbon pollution from power plants. The regulations left coal-fired power plants in some states scrambling to come up with ways to cut emissions. The change was bad news for coal mined on the Crow Reservation by Westmoreland Coal Co., Old Coyote said. One power plant in Minnesota that uses Crow coal began cutting back.

A second issue for Crow coal is the permitting challenges facing two Washington state coal ports.

The Gateway Pacific terminal proposed for Puget Sound is opposed by several groups concerned about issues ranging from fish contamination to global warming.

The Lummi Tribe in Washington opposes Cherry Point port. Other opponents have called for studies of diesel exhaust particles from trains servicing the port and also coal dust.

Port proponents, including Old Coyote, say stringent Washington state environmental laws are creating delays and preventing the port from the federal review necessary for construction. Washington state law is effectively regulating interstate commerce, which should only be regulated by federal law.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said at the hearing that his office is tracking the permitting process of the Gateway Pacific terminal and the Millennium Project near Longview to make sure that Washington law doesn’t harm Montana coal trade.

Fox said he earlier intervened with Wyoming to appeal the denial of a permit for the Coyote Island Terminal in Oregon, which could have shipped Montana coal.

“The reason we have taken these steps is to ensure, as our sister states make their decisions regarding these port proposals, that our state’s constitutional right not to have the avenues of interstate commerce unduly burdened is fully protected,” Fox said.

The attorney general said that Asia buyers were the obvious alternative customers for Crow coal as domestic coal sales diminish.

There are only three Indian tribes that mine coal, the Crow, the Hopi and the Navajo.

Lorenzo Bates, of the Navajo Nation Council, said continued coal mining was important to creating jobs for his tribe.

“The Navajo Nation is the largest with a population over 300,000 members,” Bates said. “Less than half are able to make a living on the nation.”

Navajo high schools graduate 2,000 students a year, but reservation jobs are being added at a rate of fewer than 50 a year.

Daines said before and after the hearing that EPA regulations were clearly a problem for Indian coal sales. He also said it was time to make permanent the Indian Coal Production Tax credit, which makes mining Indian coal more lucrative for mining companies like Westmoreland.

Congress will address the permitting of Pacific Coast coal ports later this year by requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete the required environmental impact study of the Cherry Point project by June 2016. The study, should it come back positive for permitting the coal terminal, will be one less obstacle for Montana coal exports, he said.

Daines said he invited the EPA to come to Crow Agency and testify at the hearing, but it did not respond.

The hearing drew a crowd of more than 100 spectators. Not all who looked on supported development of Indian coal.

“Our reservation is surrounded by big coal mines and the largest coal plant in the state,” said Alaina Buffalo Spirit, a Northern Cheyenne. “These have only brought us a worsened economy and destruction of our homeland.”

Read more here.

Wisconsin Joins Lawsuit Over EPA’s Carbon Emissions Rules

Via Chron:

The state of Wisconsin has joined a federal lawsuit challenging new limits on carbon emissions from power plants.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Wednesday granted the state’s request filed last month to join 13 other states in the lawsuit brought last year by Murray Energy Corp., one of the nation’s largest coal companies.

Gov. Scott Walker, a supporter of the lawsuit, has said that the limits would be devastating for Wisconsin manufacturers.

The EPA wants Wisconsin to lower its emissions by 34 percent by 2030. Walker said in a letter to the EPA that could cost as much as $13 billion and raise electricity rates by 29 percent.

Conservationists say the EPA’s plan represents the most important step yet in combating climate change.

See the article here.

States Will Have Diminishing Roles Under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Via energycentral.com:

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has been saying repeatedly that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants give states flexibility. “We’re particularly interested in making sure states and utilities can achieve emissions reductions along a flexible glide path so that they can meet their targets,” she said recently. “Flexibility is the key to this proposal.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Far from being flexible, the Clean Power Plan usurps the authority long held by states to determine their own energy policies.

At its core, the Clean Power Plan is nothing more than a Federal power-grab to control how electricity is generated and dispatched. Traditionally, states have set energy policies that require utilities to use low cost resource planning to generate electricity so prices remain affordable and keep the electric grid reliable.

The Clean Power Plan turns this sound strategy on its head. Under the EPA’s plan, coal, currently the most affordable and abundant fuel used to generate electricity, will be phased out and higher priced renewable energy, like wind, will take its place. Carbon resource planning will replace low cost resource planning. Grid reliability and cost will become subordinate to EPA’s environmental goals as they pursue the President’s green energy agenda. The generation of electricity will become more costly and less diverse, and states will have no power to stop it. Consumers will pay higher electric bills and face the possibility of blackouts, especially during times of peak usage.

Legal experts have begun to sound the warning. Harvard University Constitutional Law Professor Laurence A. Tribe, in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 16, said, “EPA’s plan will force States to adopt policies that will raise energy costs and prove deeply unpopular, while cloaking those policies in the Emperor’s garb of state “choice” – even though in fact the polices are compelled by EPA. Such sleight-of-hand offends democratic principles by avoiding political transparency and accountability.” Professor Tribe further testified that the plan exceeds the EPA’s authority under federal law and makes states subservient to Washington on energy and environmental matters.

This is significant because by and large, state utility and energy regulators are more accountable to the citizens in their states. Utility regulators are elected by a vote of the people in many states. In states where they are appointed, they must receive state legislative approval or confirmation for the most part. By contrast, the EPA’s vast Federal bureaucracy is anonymous and accountable to no one.

While not perfect, states have done a pretty good job over the last century to keep electricity prices affordable and the grid reliable. Allowing the EPA to gain control our nation’s electric system is terrible public policy and the height of folly. States should just tell the EPA, “no thanks.”

See the article here.

Sen. McConnell Is Right; States Should Wait To Get Into Bed With EPA

Via Forbes:

Last year, the Obama Administration proposed the Clean Power Plan (CPP), an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation that would reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent. A necessary result of these carbon reductions is increased electricity costs and reduced grid reliability as coal plants are shuttered. These concerns have been well documented. State legislatures, public utility commissions, departments of environmental quality, governors, and attorneys general from across the country have expressed anxiety about the policy implications flowing from EPA’s proposed CPP.

In a recent letter sent to every governor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) articulated his concerns about the CPP and EPA’s campaign to pressure states to hand over control of their power markets to the federal government. The conclusion Sen. McConnell reached – and one supported by conservative and free-market groups across the country – is that states should assess the CPP on their own and wait until the courts rule on the CPP before ceding irretrievable power to EPA.

The Clean Power Plan

The EPA set carbon reduction mandates for every state. EPA then told states there are four different tools each state can use to meet these mandates: improve the efficiency of coal plants, force fuel switching from coal to natural gas, bring more renewables online, and reduce consumer electricity consumption. EPA wants states to submit a legally binding State Implementation Plan (SIP) to the EPA detailing how the state will use these four tools to meet EPA’s prescribed carbon reduction target. States, however, can decide not to submit a plan and just let the federal government write a plan for the state, a so-called Federal Implementation Plan (FIP). One of the most pressing legal questions surrounding the CPP is which of the above tools EPA can unilaterally include in its FIP.

This is where things get interesting, and a bit confusing. There is a likelihood that EPA does not have the legal authority to unilaterally force states to switch electricity production from coal to natural gas, construct renewables, and reduce electricity consumption – we will refer to these carbon reduction policies as the three tools. Up until the proposed CPP, it was generally believed these three tools were only accessible by states, not the EPA. States, however, could effectively give EPA control of these tools through submission of a SIP. It is precisely because no one questions a state’s authority to use the three tools that EPA wants states to submit a SIP. Once EPA has access to these three tools because a state submitted a SIP, the state cannot then revoke the tools from EPA. The fox is in the henhouse.

Sen. McConnell explains it this way:

The EPA’s deadlines were very likely designed to force states to develop and submit implementation plans before the courts can decide on the legality of the CPP. Their hope is that states will commit to these plans before serious legal questions are resolved.

States that submit a SIP including these three tools are relinquishing substantial autonomy over their own power markets to the EPA. That’s because EPA has the final say over any SIP. If EPA doesn’t like a state’s SIP, the agency can throw it out or change it as they see fit.

What Happens If A State Does Not Submit A SIP?

We are in unchartered waters. There is no precedent for this regulation. If a state does not submit a SIP (a perfectly legal option) and EPA writes a Federal Implementation Plan (FIP), what will the federal plan look like? EPA will almost assuredly try to grab control of states’ tools and prescribe a FIP that includes fuel switching from coal to natural gas, the construction of renewables, and electricity reduction policies. Does EPA have the legal authority to wrest these policies away from states that do not want to relinquish them? Probably not, but no one knows for sure. Courts will need to assess the CPP and are already looking at this question.

Given all the ambiguity surrounding the CPP, many states are holding off from submitting a SIP until they know more about the rule’s legality and its impact on their state. This is the smart, wait-and-see argument Sen. Mitch McConnell is making.

Over in the House of Representatives, Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) has introduced legislation that would make it easier for states to adopt the approach Sen. McConnell is advocating for. With more states pushing back against the EPA every week, EPA knows the American people are watching the agency and waiting to see what the final version of the Clean Power Plan will look like.

See the article here.

‘Clean Power’ Could Mean Blackouts

Via the nptelegraph.com:

Here’s an important question: Just how much of Nebraska’s electricity is supplied by coal? The answer is far more than one might guess. In fact, Nebraska gets 72 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants. But what if Nebraska were suddenly forced to seek its electricity from other sources? Could the state find enough electricity to meet demand during peak use, or would it experience higher utility prices and potential blackouts?

These are important questions to ask as President Obama looks to implement strict new rules on carbon dioxide emissions. His administration is hoping to vastly reduce America’s use of coal through a hastily assembled plan by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would likely force the closure of hundreds of domestic coal-fired power plants.

If coal-supplied power is in jeopardy, then what’s really at issue is long-term “grid reliability.” Simply put, will power supplies continue to exist in order to meet the current, massive U.S. demand for electricity? At the very least, the EPA’s mandate poses a risk to grid stability, since roughly 40 percent of electricity in the United States comes from coal-fired power generation.

Under the new regulations from the EPA, many of the nation’s coal-fire power plants would be effectively forced out of operation. 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 can rely on alternative sources — wind and hydropower — but that isn’t an option for much of the country.

The importance of coal in generating electricity was 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 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, 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 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. It’s the reason that state utility commissions and regulators from 22 states have sent formal comments to the EPA expressing concern that the Clean Power Plan will jeopardize dependable and economical electricity supplies. The bottom line is that the U.S. needs a diversified power portfolio, including coal, to meet the nation’s electricity needs, and state governors should reject the EPA’s plan as risky and impractical.

See the article here.

 

Will the States Thwart Obama’s Coal Plan?

By Paul Alexander

“I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” President Barack Obama famously said in January 2014. He was attempting to explain his strategy for bypassing the United States Congress, a body that hasn’t been very friendly to him, not even when Democrats controlled both chambers during the first two years of his first term, much less after Republicans took control of the House of Representative and then the Senate.

Obama has used his pen-and-phone strategy to deal with issues like immigration, gun control, and health care. The approach has often led to legal battles. The latest move to end up in court concerns regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, what has been billed as the centerpiece of Obama’s plan to combat climate change.

During his first term, Obama promised environmental groups he would address the issue. He proposed a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions but was unable to push legislation through Congress. So, using his pen-and-phone strategy, he ordered theEnvironmental Protection Agency to find an existing law that could be re-interpreted to accomplish what he wanted — without the help of Congress.

The administration ended up using the Clean Air Act, legislation signed in 1970 by Richard Nixon that actually established the EPA. (Ironically, Nixon was able to pass pro-environmental legislation in Congress even if Obama couldn’t.) Traditionally, the law had been used to regulate mercury, lead and similar pollutants. But the Obama administration decided to apply it to greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

The loophole they found was in amendments added to the law by Congress in 1990. The House and the Senate had different interpretations of the way the law could be used to regulate industries. The House version said pollutants like mercury were covered under section 112, not 111(d), the power plant rule. The Senate version said if pollutants were not regulated in section 112, 111(d) could be used. Normally, such conflicts are resolved in committee but in this case both interpretations were included in the amendments. Since carbon dioxide was not listed as a pollutant in section 112, the Obama administration decided it could use 111(d), the power plant rule, to regulate it.

Released in June 2014 at the direction of the president, the 645-page regulatory document was called the Clean Power Plan, and it targeted coal-fired power plants. “The EPA,” The Washington Post reported, “proposed a rule designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by as much as 30 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels… After the EPA finalizes its proposal in mid-2015, it will give states a year to design their implementation plans.” The plan proposed regulations for new power plants as well, the first time the EPA handed down greenhouse gas regulations for plants that had not yet been built.

The rule is important because coal accounts for 40 percent of the nation’s electricity. Any increase in the cost of production would be passed on to the consumer, which would mean higher electricity prices, perhaps much higher. In addition, the economies of some states — West Virginia, Wyoming, Kentucky, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and others — depend heavily on coal.

Reaction to the plan was swift. The United States Chamber of Commerce estimated the new regulations would cost business $50 billion a year, resulting in power plant closures and the loss of 224,000 jobs annually. Obama critics called the plan a war on the coal industry. Even some high-profile Obama allies attacked the plan because of the way it was created. Laurence Tribe, Obama’s professor at Harvard University School of Law who taught the nation’s first environmental law class, called the plan“unconstitutional.”

In June, Murray Energy Corporation, the largest privately held coal-mining company in the country, which is based in Ohio, filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. attempting to block implementation of the Clean Power Plan. By August, 12 states had also filed suit. The litigation, according to The Los Angeles Times, focused on “weak spots in the EPA’s interpretation of an untested section of the Clean Air Act, on which the proposed rule change is based.”

By March of this year, officials in nearly 30 states had spoken out, arguing the EPA did not have the legal authority to do what it’s trying to do with the Clean Power Plan. The number of states joining the lawsuit reached 14. “As attorney general,” Leslie Rutledge said when Arkansas joined the suit, “I will protect Arkansans against an overreaching federal government that is attempting to implement heavy-handed regulations that go beyond the scope of the law.”

But the Obama administration’s most outspoken critic turned out to be Laurence Tribe. Appearing before an energy subcommittee in the House in March, Tribe, now representing Peabody Energy, said that “burning the Constitution of the United States, about which I care deeply, cannot be a part of our national energy policy…. The EPA is attempting an unconstitutional trifecta: usurping the prerogatives of the states, Congress, and the federal courts — all at once.” He summed up his feelings by asking: “When you tear the Constitution apart, bit by bit, and give it a death by a thousand cuts, what else will we sacrifice the Constitution for?”

This is the question the D.C. court must ultimately answer as it considers the Clean Power Plan litigation: Just how much power does a president have?

See the article here.

Clean Air Rules Likely to Cause Power Generation Shortages in Much of US: NERC Chief

Via Platts:

New US environmental regulations are likely to create generation shortages in the Great Plains, Midwest, Northeast and Texas, the head of the North American Electric Reliability Corp. said Wednesday.

Speaking at the Gulf Coast Power Association’s Spring Conference in Houston, Gerry Cauley, NERC president and CEO, said new greenhouse gas rules could cause the retirement of 60 GW of generation capacity, mainly coal-fired, over the next few years.

NERC plans to release a report on April 20 that would show such retirements could create shortages in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the Northeast Power Coordination Council and the Southwest Power Pool, Cauley said.

Noting that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan aims to lower carbon dioxide emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2020, Cauley said the report would highlight that the necessary cuts for many states “appear to be infeasible.”

“The second main point we’re going to make is that we need to have a reliability assurance mechanism, or safety valve,” Cauley said. “If there’s a reliability issue that comes up, we can’t have an environmental rule that trumps reliability. We don’t want to put companies in a position where it has to choose between violating an environmental rule or violating a reliability standard.”

To most efficiently meet the new emissions limits, states should band together to diversify their generation and emissions profiles, Cauley said.

Immediately after Cauley’s speech there was a panel discussion of the Clean Power Plan, during which Robert Lawrence, policy adviser for energy issues at the EPA’s Region 6 office in Dallas, said the carbon dioxide emissions reduction plan presented last summer is to be presented in final version in the summer of 2015.

“I guarantee you it won’t be the plan as proposed,” Lawrence said, but he could not elaborate on what the final plan would entail.

Holding out hope for a way to cut emissions, Susan Williams Sloan, American Wind Energy Association vice president for state policy, pointed out that several states, such as Iowa and South Dakota, get relatively high percentages of their electricity from wind resources now. Also, wind resources have proven to help reliability, particularly during cold emergencies when fossil-fueled power plants are incapacitated for some reason, Sloan said.

MIXED VIEWS ON RELIABILITY IMPACT ON TEXAS; COSTS EXPECTED TO RISE

When the GCPA polled attendees during the presentation, asking whether the Clean Power Plan would impair Texas electricity reliability, 43% of respondents said yes, 39% said no, and 19% said maybe.

Another survey asked whether the CPP would increase Texas electricity bills, to which 73% said yes, 20% said no and 7% said maybe.

Susana Hildebrand, Energy Future Holdings director of environmental policy, said her organization, which has the largest share of generation in Texas, believes the EPA’s Clean Power Plan does not represent an appropriate, accurate interpretation of the Clean Air Act.

“If ever there was a rule where the devil was in the details, it was this rule,” Hildebrand said.

It calls for cutting the emissions rate by 39% from 2012 levels, down to 791 pounds of carbon dioxide per MWh, Hildebrand said, which is about 20% lower than the 50-state average of 991 pounds per MWh.

In terms of how much total carbon dioxide each state would need to cut annually to meet the goal, Texas tops the list, at about 58 million tons, compared with Florida, the next-largest total, at about 28 million tons. The estimated Texas cut would require the state to retire 12,117 MW of coal-fired capacity by 2020, Hildebrand said.

–Mark Watson

See the article here.

Diverse Central States Echo Reliability Concerns at Final Clean Power Plan Conference

Via Energy & Environment Daily:

Jeffrey Tomich

ST. LOUIS — The changes in power plant fleets that will be required by U.S. EPA’s Clean Power plan are too much, too fast, and threaten electric affordability and reliability, a group of utilities and state regulators from up and down the nation’s central corridor said here yesterday.

The comments came during the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s final regional hearing on implementation of the proposed rule, which calls for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent over the next 15 years.

Most concerns aired during the all-day meeting echo those made in formal comments to EPA and in previous FERC sessions. Regulators from Texas, Indiana and North Dakota — all of which are plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the rule — reiterated their sharp disagreement with the Obama administration’s plan to slash power plant greenhouse gas emissions.

Donna Nelson of the Texas Public Utilities Commission said the rule will lead to significant coal plant retirements and doesn’t credit the state for huge investments in wind energy over the past decade.

“I see the Clean Power Plan as the biggest challenge facing Texas’ ability to deliver power to Texans at affordable rates,” Nelson said.

FERC’s focus yesterday was the central region of the country, a diverse area stretching from the Gulf Coast to the upper Great Plains. It’s a region that includes some of the nation’s windiest states and some that rely heavily on coal for electricity production. It includes several key petroleum-producing areas and spans three electric reliability organizations.

Steve Stoll, a Missouri Public Service Commission member, said the grid was built out over decades. Utility investments — including those in emissions controls to meet other environmental regulations — are depreciated over decades. And there isn’t enough time to meet interim compliance requirements proposed by EPA.

“The ship, quite literally, cannot turn on a dime,” he said.

Other speakers said the plan to slash carbon emissions will carry a steep cost.

Warner Baxter, CEO of St. Louis-based utility Ameren Corp., told the commission that compliance would have a $4 billion price tag. It could be done much more easily, and at a much lower cost, if the interim compliance deadlines are relaxed.

Baxter and other panelists also said mechanisms to ensure reliability should be formally included in EPA’s final rule this summer, and FERC should receive state compliance plans for review at the same time they’re submitted to EPA for approval.

Commissioner Philip Moeller asked panelists more specifically what FERC’s role should be regarding compliance plans.

“If FERC is put in a position to be second-guessing what a state puts together … I sense that it could add to our state-federal tension,” he said.

In an interview after the hearing, FERC Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur said she’s more concerned about whether a reliability mechanism works than about whether it’s written into the final rule.

But she does see a continued role for the commission in helping with Clean Power Plan implementation.

“I think some sort of role for FERC between submission of a plan and when it goes final, as long as our review sticks within the jurisdictional work, makes sense,” LaFleur said.

Ideas for — and against — multistate plans

Another key theme yesterday was the potential for cooperation among states (see related story).

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the grid operator for 15 U.S. states and one Canadian province reaching from Manitoba to the Gulf Coast, said savings from a regional compliance effort could be $3 billion annually. But grid operators, utility officials and state regulators said developing those multi-state plans won’t be easy.

Many of the states, including Illinois, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana and Michigan, participate in more than one reliability organization. Individual CO2 reduction targets vary widely. And some states may benefit from rate-based versus mass-based compliance strategies as allowed under the proposed rule.

Utility and environmental regulations from 14 MISO states have been meeting for months in search of a way to cooperate on Clean Power Plan compliance (EnergyWire, Dec. 3, 2014).

Members of the Midcontinent States Environmental and Energy Regulators (MSEER) had their fifth in-person meeting in St. Louis on Monday ahead of the FERC hearing.

“We couldn’t figure out any viable way to trade between a rate-based and a mass-based state,” said Thomas Easterly, commissioner at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Nancy Lange, a member of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, said regional cooperation for Clean Power Plan compliance makes sense “in theory.” But differences in carbon dioxide reduction goals among states complicate those efforts.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in the MSEER group gnashing our teeth about our differences in goals,” she said.

The need for additional transmission and natural gas infrastructure was also a concern raised by utilities, regulators and grid operators — specifically whether there’s enough time to develop additional infrastructure before the interim guidelines.

Lanny Nickell, vice president of operations for the Southwest Power Pool, said it can take as long as 8 ½ years to develop new high-voltage transmission lines.

But Lauren Azar, a former Wisconsin utility regulator and former Department of Energy official, said the need for new transmission can be accommodated more quickly and done through the planning processes already used by regional transmission organizations (RTOs).

“If the states go tell the RTOs they want this infrastructure, the RTOs are going to jump on it,” she said in an interview. “It’s a matter of will.”

See the article here. [Subscription required.]

 

EPA’s Clean Power Plan is Simply Unsustainable

Via AZcentral.com:

Rural Arizona is at a tipping point as the EPA finalizes its Clean Power Plan that could dramatically increase the costs for power and water used by farmers, ranchers and residents to a level that is simply unsustainable.

Before rural Arizonans came together to form consumer-owned electric cooperatives in the 1930s, water was manually pumped to fields and farmers’ clothes were washed by hand. Cooperatives brought the rural areas into the modern age.

In the 1970s we came together again, adding stability to energy prices by building the Apache Generating Station near Benson.

During that time, the federal government feared a shortage of natural gas resources and banned its use for electricity generation through the Fuel Use Act, so the only viable generation option was coal. The power plant’s cost was financed over the long run, making the power affordable through a source that would be available for decades to come.

The Fuel Use Act was determined to be a failed experiment and was repealed 10 years later.

Now the federal government, through the EPA, is imposing a new set of regulations that calls for the transition back to the fuel it banned only 40 years ago. Rural Arizona is left holding the bag for the federal government’s short-term thinking because the plan includes no compensation for the long-term investment structured to meet the government’s requirements.

Already bearing a higher cost per capita than urban Arizona, we could now be forced to pay for an alternative while the debt on the existing plant continues to be serviced.

Furthermore, the EPA’s proposal fails rural Arizona by assuming we can fundamentally shift our energy portfolio to natural gas in a relatively short amount of time without disrupting reliability to rural customers.

No one cares for the environment and climate more than the rural cooperative members who depend upon these very things for their livelihood. Always looking for better options, many rural communities were early adopters of solar and wind alternatives and have made recent investments in pollution reduction technology. However, the EPA proposal gives no credit for these innovations.

As the EPA finalizes the regulations this summer, it is critical the agency learn from the mistakes of the past and take the real short-term and long-term impacts into account. Rural Arizona needs leadership now to ensure that the plan is modified, or coal won’t be the only thing that goes missing from Arizona’s economy.

Joe Kay of Lakeside is president of the Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association.

See the article here.

 

KCA Statement on President Obama’s Visit to Louisville

“Having Pres. Obama come to Louisville today and speak about jobs and the economy truly shows that he, his administration and its supporters have no idea of the devastation that they have caused in and beyond Kentucky’s coalfields. While any sitting President of the United States should be treated with respect, we, as Kentuckians, have an obligation to criticize him for playing a major role in the loss of more than 7,000 direct mining jobs in Eastern Kentucky, more than 21,000 indirect jobs, and an unknown and much greater number of other jobs in the coalfields as Pres. Obama continues to fulfill his 2008 campaign promise of bankrupting the U.S. coal industry. I hope the people of Louisville understand that what happens in Kentucky’s coalfields not only affects how much they pay for electricity, but also keeps so many Kentucky manufacturers here in the Commonwealth.”

-Bill Bissett, President, Kentucky Coal Association

Throw Out EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rule Because of Missed Deadline, AG Demands

Via The New Orleans Times-Picayune:

The federal Environmental Protection Agency missed a key deadline in adoptingregulations requiring power plants to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and should be thrown out, Attorney Gen. Buddy Caldwellsaid in a Wednesday (Mar. 25) letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

But EPA officials said in a statement Monday afternoon that the agency isn’t required to withdraw the rule because of a missed deadline.

The letter written by Caldwell was signed by 18 other state attorneys general.

The new rules are part of President Barack Obama’s strategies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which have been linked to human-caused climate change, including increased levels of sea level rise and unusual weather patterns that are expected to increase over the next century.

The rules have been opposed by Louisiana and other states because of their potential costs to industries, including the electric utilities that would be required to reduce their emissions and companies and individuals that the utilities and states contend are likely to see increased electricity costs because of the reductions.

In his letter, the latest in a series of communications between state attorneys general and EPA over the rules, Caldwell contends that a provision of the Clean Air Act requires EPA to publish its final version of the rule “no later than one year following publication of the proposed rule,” which occurred on Jan. 8, 2014.

That time limit exists, in part, to assure that businesses considering construction of new plants aren’t “left in a state of uncertainty” with respect to the proposed rules, he said.

“Considering all of the grounds upon which this rule is likely to be overturned, and because the rule making threatens the citizens of the states, we as the chief legal officers of the states are notifying your agency that this proposed rule has expired,” he wrote. “It therefore must be withdrawn.”

In its statement, EPA said “It is incorrect that the consequences of EPA missing a deadline for finalizing a proposed rule is that EPA must withdraw the proposal. EPA remains obligated to finalize the rule.”

“In January, we said there are cross-cutting topics that affect the standards for new sources, for modified sources and for existing sources,” the statement said. “We believe it is essential to consider these overlapping issues in a coordinated fashion. To do so requires us to finalize all three rules–the new source standards, the standards for modified and reconstructed source and the Clean Power Plan — in a similar timeframe.”

Caldwell’s letter was also signed by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

See the article here. 

EPA Carbon Plan Will Kill 38,000 Virginia Jobs, Report Says

Via Watchdog.org

By Kenric Ward

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Plan will boost Virginia’s electric rates 25 percent and eliminate 38,000 jobs in the state, a new study predicts.

“These EPA rules are aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from producers of coal power plants by either shutting them down or making their cost uncompetitive in the marketplace,” stated the report released Tuesday by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy and the Beacon Hill Institute.

“If the electricity production from coal is eliminated, the diversity of the electricity supply sources will fall and become more dependent on natural gas and its price fluctuations. If the new expensive and untested carbon capture and sequestration technology is adopted electricity prices will increase.”

Researchers said higher electricity costs would “threaten the state’s industrial base.”

Randy Randol, a Virginia-based energy analyst, and David Botkins, spokesman for Dominion Power, said the report confirmed the State Corporation Commission’s warning of the negative economic impact of stricter EPA rules. Botkins said rate increases could run as high as 30 percent.

The 2015 General Assembly enacted some consumer protections. Senate Bill 1349, signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, freezes base electric rates for five years and prohibits power plant closures without prior approval of the SCC.

EPA’s proposed rules for new plants would limit CO2 emissions to 1.1 pounds per kilowatt hour of electricity production — less than half the current average. The EPA’s target reduction for Virginia is 38 percent versus a national reduction of 30 percent.

Beacon Hill concluded the carbon emission rule on new power plants will cost Virginia $336 million in 2030, and rules for existing plants will run $592 million. Separate regulations on mercury emissions will cost an additional $817 million, the study said.

The state’s projected 38,000 job losses and price increases would combine to reduce real incomes as firms, households and governments spend more of their budgets on energy and less on other goods, the report predicted.

“As a result, real disposable income would fall by $4.451 billion by 2030, and annual investment in the state would fall by $515 million. The investment losses are mildly offset by increased investment in other electricity technologies,” researchers concluded.

U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Abingdon, called promises of offsetting economic gains “hogwash.”

“This (report) is exactly what we’ve been saying. (The air rules) will be a lot more expensive than the EPA is willing to admit,” Griffith told Watchdog.org in a phone interview.

Griffith, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the economy of his southwestern Virginia district has been battered for decades by Washington policies.

“From textiles to tobacco to furniture, it’s not what we had 25 years ago. All we see is empty promises from the federal government,” the congressman said.

Michael Thompson, president of the free-market oriented Jefferson Institute, said, “At a time when Virginia is clawing its way out of the recession, the (EPA) costs will have a devastating impact on Virginians.

“With a major legal challenge expected immediately after the final regulations are published — and a resultant two-year court battle — the prudent course of action would be for the General Assembly to refuse to implement a state plan under the new federal regulations,” Thompson said.

Last month, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy acknowledged her agency doesn’t have the legal authority to withhold federal highway funding from states that opt not to comply with its Clean Power Plan.

Nevertheless, state Delegate Israel O’Quinn said, “The catastrophic possibilities cannot be overstated.”

“Virginia still has an opportunity to avoid these rules, and I am hopeful we will do everything in our power to do so,” the Bristol Republican told Watchdog.

See the article here.