Monthly Archives: June 2015

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

Ratepayer Protection Act: Welcomed Move by U.S. House

Via The Bluefield Daily Telegraph:

The passage last week of the Ratepayer Protection Act in the U.S. House of Representatives is another welcomed step in the ongoing efforts by the new Republican majority in Washington — with help from some Democrats — to stop the crippling war on coal that the Obama administration has been waging on our region for the past six years.

The measure, which was jointly co-sponsored locally by U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., would allow for the judicial system to review any final rule in the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial Clean Power Plan — a measure that has already led to the closure of coal-fired power plants across West Virginia and Virginia — before states are required to comply with its implementation if the state’s governor has determined it would significantly harm energy reliability or affordability.

 “We all know that the EPA’s proposed coal-fired power plant regulations have and would put West Virginia coal miners out of work and raise the cost of electricity for West Virginia’s families and small businesses,” Jenkins said last week. “By passing the Ratepayer Protection Act, we’re giving power to the states instead of the federal government, allowing them to make decisions in the best interests of their states and residents. We must ensure that West Virginia has abundant electricity production at affordable rates, and West Virginia coal provides jobs and affordable domestic energy.”

“I believe that this administration’s so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ is not only expensive, burdensome, and unreasonable, but that based on the law and prior court opinions, the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the authority to enact it under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.,” Griffith, who represents Virginia’s so-called Fightin’ Ninth Congressional District, added. “Accordingly, the courts ought to weigh in on the plan’s legality before states implement it, and before those who pay an electric bill are required to spend a significant amount of money. House passage of the Ratepayer Protection Act is an important step in seeing that states can retain control of their energy markets, and that ratepayers don’t have to pay for a frivolous regulation EPA knows or ought to know it does not have the authority to implement.”

Jenkins an Griffith joined Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., in introducing the Ratepayer Protection Act, which has earned the support of the United Mine Workers of America.

The measure is another necessary step in the fight to protect the coalfields of West Virginia and Virginia. We believe it is critical for lawmakers in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate to continue the fight before even more harm is done to both states, and the coalfield communities in particular.

As electric rates across our nation continue to increase due to these controversial new rules, more Americans will begin to feel the pain of Washington’s war on coal. And perhaps a few more eyes will be opened in the process.

See the article here.

Supreme Court to EPA: Power Plant Regs Do ‘More Harm Than Good’

Via The Examiner:

In a stinging rebuke to the climate legacy Obama is desperately seeking to create, the Supreme Court ruled today that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) failed to consider the costs of certain regulations, which actually did ‘more harm than good.’ In its 5-4 vote ruling, the Court said the EPA failed to take costs into account when it imposed new regulations curbing the emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants, which forced the closure of hundreds of coal fired power plants due to costly new standards.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said it was not appropriate to impose billions of dollars of economic costs in return for a negligible return in health or environmental benefits. “No regulation is ‘appropriate’ if it does significantly more harm than good,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion. “The Agency must consider cost—including, most importantly, cost of compliance—before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary. We need not and do not hold that the law unambiguously required the Agency, when making this preliminary estimate, to conduct a formal cost-benefit analysis in which each advantage and disadvantage is assigned a monetary value.”

National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn wrote of the Supreme Court’s decision that it was a win for common sense, something that is “missing in much of the administration’s regulatory actions.” The Supreme Court’s ruling has effectively put the “EPA on notice: reckless rulemaking that ignores the cost to consumers is unreasonable and won’t be tolerated,” Quinnwrote. “It recognizes what the administration has ignored: that every regulatory benefit comes with a cost, and the value of that benefit cannot be known unless its costs are considered.

Implementation of the EPA’s Mercury Air Toxics Standard (MATS) would cost power plants $9.6 billion a year to comply, “yet its benefits were illusory,” saidWilliam Yeatman, a senior fellow at the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute. “In fact, the rule’s justification was to spend $10 billion annually in order to protect a putative population of pregnant subsidence fisherwomen, not one of whom EPA actually identified in the course of rendering the rule.”

NMA’s Quinn also noted that the decision would be a “welcome reprieve for valuable electricity generating capacity at risk of closing from EPA’s rule. These plants may again be used to strengthen grid reliability and lower energy costs for families and industries.” Since MATS was implemented, an estimated “13 gigawatts of coal-fired power is already slated to retire by the end of 2015.” This is in addition to coal plant owners “readying themselves to comply with upcoming ozone and greenhouse gas regulations,” according to the Daily Caller.

The EPA said in a statement that since creating the rules nearly three years ago, it has since incorporated the costs of the new regulations, but only at a later stage. EPA Press Secretary Melissa J. Harrison wrote that EPA would review the decision and take “any appropriate next steps” when the review was complete. “EPA is disappointed that the Court did not uphold the rule, but this rule was issued more than three years ago, investments have been made and most plants are already well on their way to compliance.”

Harrison also reiterated that the Supreme Court’s ruling did not pertain to the agency’s overall Clean Air Act authority, but only to cost considerations, saying the “EPA remains committed to ensuring that appropriate standards are in place. The Court’s decision focuses on EPA’s initial finding that it was appropriate and necessary to regulate these emissions and not on the substance of the standards themselves,” she said, adding that for every dollar spent on reducing pollution under these rules, “the American public would see up to $9 in health benefits.”

According to the Washington Post, the EPA argued that mercury emissions were “especially dangerous to pregnant or breast-feeding mothers and young children,” and “could prevent as many as 11,000 deaths” and over “half-million lost days of work.” But Pat Michaels, a climate scientist and director of scientific studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, said these arguments are misleading and that the MATS rule would only yield public benefits “of 0.00209 I.Q. points (the margin for error is ~5000x this value) in a theoretical population of 240,000 people.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement she hopes the opinion leads to some “balance” in these environmental standards. “It is heartening to hear that the court has reined in the EPA, especially on the issue of the costs of regulation,” she said.

Scalia was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Because of the ruling, the case will now go back to the lower courts so the EPA can decide how to account for the costs.

See the article here.

Supreme Court Blocks Obama’s Limits on Power Plants

Via The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Courton Monday blocked one of the Obama administration’s most ambitious environmental initiatives, one meant to limit emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion in the 5-to-4 decision, joined by the court’s more conservative members.

Industry groups and some 20 states challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to regulate the emissions, saying the agency had failed to take into account the punishing costs its regulations would impose.

The Clean Air Act required the regulations to be “appropriate and necessary.” The challengers said the agency had run afoul of that law by deciding to regulate the emissions without first undertaking a cost-benefit analysis.

The agency responded that it was not required to take costs into account when it made the initial determination to regulate. But the agency added that it did so later in setting emissions standards and that, in any event, the benefits far outweighed the costs.

The two sides had very different understandings of the costs and benefits involved. Industry groups said the government had imposed annual costs of $9.6 billion to achieve about $6 million in benefits. The agency said the costs yielded tens of billions of dollars in benefits.

The decision, Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-46 was a setback for environmentalists.

Court’s Decision on EPA Rule a Win for Common Sense

National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn said the Supreme Court’s decision today in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA vindicates growing demands for common sense rulemaking from the Environmental Protection Agency:

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is a vindication of common sense that is missing in much of the administration’s regulatory actions.

“The decision effectively puts EPA on notice: reckless rulemaking that ignores the cost to consumers is unreasonable and won’t be tolerated. It recognizes what the administration has ignored: that every regulatory benefit comes with a cost, and the value of that benefit cannot be known unless its costs are considered.

“Finally, the decision is a welcome reprieve for valuable electricity generating capacity at risk of closing from EPA’s rule. These plants may again be used to strengthen grid reliability and lower energy costs for families and industries.”

See the press release here.

A Worthy But Uphill Fight Against the EPA

Via The News-Sentinel: 

One more area in which the federal government has gotten too powerful.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has written a letter to President Obama telling him Indiana won’t comply with pending federal rules restricting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants unless major revisions are made. Environmentalists say this snubbing of the Environmental Protection Agency is a shameful protection of the profits of Big Coal and dirty fossil fuels.

But here’s the thing. Indiana’s coal-fired electric power plants provide about 85 percent of the state’s net electricity generation. It is folly to pretend a significant amount of that total can be quickly, easily and affordably replaced with alternative, renewable energy sources. Reducing emissions as much as the EPA wants — 20 percent by 2030 — would raise customer rates or reduce the power supply or both.

So we wish the governor well. But he surely understands it will be an uphill fight. The House has voted to give states the ability to opt out of the regulations, but the vote was 247 to 180, not strong enough to override the White House veto that is surely coming. And the EPA, which magnanimously grants states some flexibility in crafting an emissions-reduction plan, is threatening to impose its own plan on states that don’t act.

All of this is aimed at fighting “climate change,” which “a consensus of scientists” say is happening, is caused by human activity and will have devastating effects. But consensus is opinion, not science. The models used to predict climate change (which used to be called global warming until there was an embarrassing years-long pause in actual warming) have not exactly performed well.

The climate has always changed and always will, and the effects, as always, will be both good and bad, and humans will exploit the good and adapt to the bad as we always have. To assume the enlightened few can define what the perfect global climate should be and command it is arrogance on a grand scale.

But that’s the federal government for you. This is just one area among the many we have written about over the years in which power has been sucked from state and local governments and accumulated in frightening amounts in Washington. It is certainly not what the Founders intended, and it is absolutely not the best way to run a country.

That’s what elections are for.

See the article here.

 

Coal Industry Urges White House to Change Rules for New Power Plants

Via The Washington Examiner:

The coal industry is pressing the White House to hit the reset button on strict new power plant regulations that critics argue would ban the construction of new coal plants.

The National Mining Association, representing the coal industry, met with White House officials last week to discuss an industry proposal to reset the rule’s strict technology standard at a level that is achievable through commercially-available technology, according to public records posted by the White House Office of Management and Budget and industry officials.

The Environmental Protection Agency based the “New Source” rules on power plants using carbon capture and storage technology, which is not yet commercially available, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-fired plants, according to the mining association and coal advocates.

The technology standard means the New Source rules are nearly impossible to meet if a company wants to build a new coal-fired plant. The regulation has Republicans and some Democrats saying it creates a “de facto ban” on new coal plants in the country, even those with much lower emissions.

“Coal confronts policies designed to not allow it to compete in the marketplace,” Hal Quinn, the mining association’s president, told a conference in Pittsburgh June 17. “How else does one explain a proposal to bar the construction of new higher-efficiency, lower-emission coal plants unless they incorporate a technology that has never been demonstrated end-to-end on a commercial power plant?”

The association wants the rule’s technology standard changed to include advanced coal plants that are currently operating, according to the group and documents presented at the meeting.

The association pressed EPA and White House officials at the meeting to change the rules to reflect the emission reductions achieved by a power plant built by a subsidiary of American Electric Power in Arkansas, called the “Turk Plant.”

The Turk Plant was put into operation just ahead of the New Source rules being proposed. It uses so-called “supercritical” coal technology that is state-of-the-art and commercially achievable.

Supercritical technology burns coal at much hotter temperatures than conventional coal plants. That allows plants to operate at much higher efficiency, resulting in lower emissions and much higher energy output. The Turk Plant has been designed in such a way that when carbon capture technology becomes commercial, it can be added to reduce emissions even more.

That would effectively change EPA’s impossible standard for “best available control technology” to something that is technologically feasible, the coal group argues.

The “Turk” power plant would replace EPA’s use of a yet-to-be operational Southern Co. power plant in setting the criteria to comply with the rule. The Southern Co. power plant being built in Kemper County, Miss., uses carbon capture and storage technology that critics say is far from being considered commercial and is too expensive to deploy currently.

Carbon capture and storage technology uses a process by which carbon dioxide is taken out of a power plant’s exhaust stream and forced underground into large aquifers or other rock formations. Carbon dioxide is considered by many scientists to be the cause of manmade global warming.

The mining association argues that the Clean Air Act directs the EPA to base its emission rules on technologies that are commercially available.

The air law “obliges EPA to base standards on the best demonstrated technology, and for coal-based power plants that obviously rules out Kemper, which can’t demonstrate effectiveness because it isn’t operating,” said Luke Popovich, the mining association’s vice president of external affairs in an email. “We suggested the Turk Plant should set the relevant performance standard as it is in operation and thus demonstrates its capability.”

The meeting at the White House was part of OMB’s final review of the New Source rule, which is expected to become law ahead of the additional EPA rules for existing power plants known as the Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Power Plan is considered the centerpiece of the president’s agenda to fight global warming. It is much more sweeping than the New Source rule, but the two are dependent on one another. Under the Clean Air Act, the existing power plant rule cannot go into effect before the rules for new power plants are finalized. OMB is reviewing both currently.

The Senate environment committee on Tuesday will hold a hearing to discuss legislation that would roll back both regulations, while the House Rules Committee is preparing a bill slated to come up for a floor vote on Wednesday to delay the Clean Power Plan.

See the article here.

Black Chamber of Commerce: EPA Plan Will Increase Black Poverty 23%, Strip 7M Black Jobs

Via CNSNews.com:

A study commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce found that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan would increase black poverty by 23 percent and cause the loss of 7 million jobs for black Americans by 2035.

The study also found that the EPA’ plan would increase Hispanic poverty by 26 percent and cause the loss of 12 million jobs for Hispanic Americans by 2035.

The EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan on June 2, 2014 to cut carbon emissions from power plants. The National Black Chamber of Commerce commissioned the study to evaluate the potential economic and employment impacts of the plan on minority groups.

National Black Charmber of Commerce President Harry Alford explained the results of the report, “Potential Impact of Proposed EPA Regulations on Low Income Groups and Minorities” at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on

“The study finds that the Clean Power Plan will inflict severe and disproportionate economic burdens on poor families, especially minorities,” said Alford in his prepared statement. “The EPA’s proposed regulation for GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions from existing power plants is a slap in the face to poor and minority families.

“These communities already suffer from higher unemployment and poverty rates compared to the rest of the country, yet the EPA’s regressive energy tax threatens to push minorities and low-income Americans even further into poverty,” Alford added.

“According to a recent study commissioned by the National Black Chamber of Commerce,” Alford said, “the Clean Power Plan would: increase Black poverty by 23 percent and Hispanic povety by 26 percent; result in cumulative job losses of 7 million for Blacks and nearly 12 million for Hispanics in 2035; and decrease Black and Hispanic median household income by $455 and $515 respectively, in 2035.”

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) rebutted this view, saying that states who have taken action on climate change have seen their economies grow.

“Many states, such as New York and Delaware, have already taken action to reduce the largest emitter of carbon pollution – power plant emissions,” Carper said. “As we will hear today, the economies of these states continue to grow at a faster rate than the states that have yet to put climate regulations in place. However, we need all states to do their fair share to protect the air we breathe and stem the tide of climate change. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan attempts to do just that.”

Opponents of the plan like Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) say that the Clean Power Plan will raise electricity prices and hurt businesses in her state.

“I introduced ARENA [Affordable Reliable Electricity Now Act] and am holding this hearing today because of the devastating impact that EPA’s proposed regulations will have on the families and businesses in my home state and across the nation,” saidCapito. “I am not exaggerating when I say almost every day back home in  West Virginia, there are new stories detailing plants closed, jobs lost, and price increases.”

One of the businesses in Capito’s home state, Ammar, Inc., a family-owned company that operates 19 Magic Mart stores in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky wrote Capito a letter about the EPA regulation.

“There was a time when your greatest obstacle was your competitor, but if you worked hard, took care of your customers and offered quality merchandise at a fair price, you could compete successfully,” the letter stated. “Unfortunately, that is now not the case… The largest impediment we have to operating our business successfully is our own government, particularly the EPA. The rulings issued by the EPA have devastated our regional economy.

“Coal provided 96 percent of West Virginia’s electricity last year. West Virginia has among the lowest electricity prices in the nation: last year, the average price was 27 percent below the national average,” said Capito. “But that advantage will not survive this administration’s policies. Studies have projected the Clean Power Plan will raise electricity prices in West Virginia by between 12 and 16 percent.”

“Put simply, there is no way that this massive, largely EPA-driven reduction in coal fired electricity generation is going to impact only coal states. It’s going to impact the majority of states, and the families and businesses within them. Often, the poorest and most vulnerable populations will bear the brunt of this increase,” she said.

See the article here.

Editorial: Legislators Push Back Against EPA Power Grab

Via The Charleston Daily Mail:

As the Environmental Protection Agency continues to exert regulatory pressure on West Virginia and other coal-producing states, elected officials here and elsewhere are putting some pressure of their own on the EPA.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan, requiring states to cut emissions by 30 percent before 2030, is expected to be finalized later this summer. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey leads a coalition of some 15 states that have pledged to challenge the final rule in court.

And in the meantime, West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and others are gearing up to fight the EPA on the legislative front. A U.S. Senate subcommittee chaired by Capito is considering a bill that would block the Clean Power Plan and make it much tougher for the EPA to create similar rules in the future.

The EPA is supposed to craft and implement regulations that effectuate laws passed by Congress. But many believe that things have become topsy-turvy in recent years, with the EPA churning out regulations that go far beyond anything Congress ever authorized.

Certainly, it’s hard to believe that Congress intended the Clean Air Act to encompass a set of regulations that will radically transform the American energy system, as the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would do.

“I can assure you that as long as I am majority leader of the Senate, this body will not sign off on any backdoor national energy tax,” Sen. Mitch McConnel, R-Ky., told EPA head Gina McCarthy earlier this spring.

If legislators believe the EPA has exceeded its authority, Congress is well within its rights to push back. The legislative branch has the power to override the EPA; it just has to summon the will to exercise it.

Capito’s bill would allow a state to opt out of the Clean Power Plan if its governor determined that the associated regulations would harm economic growth or raise electricity prices. It would also impose other requirements on the EPA, like requiring it to show the efficacy of new technology-based standards before implementing them.

West Virginia and other coal-producing states are already feeling the impact of the threatened regulations, with plant closures and layoffs. Capito and others are doing the right thing by pushing back against the agency and its Clean Power Plan power grab.

See the article here.

Indiana Will Buck Obama’s EPA Climate Plan

Via The National Journal:

Indiana Governor Mike Pence says his state won’t comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to curb carbon dioxide from power plants—unless the administration dramatically overhauls its regulation.

Mike Pence sent a letter to the president Obama on Wednesday with that warning, saying that unless proposed EPA regulations for power plants are significantly “improved” before the agency finalizes them, Indiana will buck the rule.

That declaration arrives on the heels of a major push from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging governors not to comply with the regulations, which stand at the heart of Obama’s effort to tackle global warming and shore up a legacy on the environment before he leaves office.

In his letter to the White House, Pence does not explicitly outline what changes he hopes to see from EPA, but claims that the regulation “fails to strike the proper balance between the health of the environment and the health of the economy,” and warns that it will drive up the cost of electricity.

“As Governor of Indiana, I am deeply concerned about the impacts of the Clean Power Plan on our state, especially our job creators, the poor, and the elderly who cannot afford more expensive, less reliable energy. I reject the Clean Power Plan and inform you that absent demonstrable and significant improvement in the final rule, Indiana will not comply,” Pence writes, adding that Indiana will “reserve the right to use any legal means available to block the rule from being implemented.”

Indiana joined a coalition of states that sued the administration in a failed effort to block the regulations before they were made final.

And this is not the first instance where a Republican governor has pushed back against the rule.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed an executive order blocking her state from complying with the power plant regulations. Wisconsin Republican Governor and 2016 contender Scott Walker has also vowed to fight the regulations in court.

But if states don’t comply, that’s not the end of the story.

The administration plans to release a federal implementation plan that will direct states to achieve required emissions cuts if they fail to submit their own plans.

“Called for by President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, EPA’s approach is built on a time-tested state-federal partnership in the Clean Air Act, which was established by Congress, for EPA to establish public health goals and then gives states important flexibility to design plans to meet their individual and unique needs,” Melissa Harrison, a spokeswoman for EPA said in response to the letter.

See the article here.

Standing Up Against EPA Overreach Benefits All Americans

Via The Hill:

As the Environmental Protection Agency plunges headlong into remaking the very fabric of American electricity generation, it is reassuring to know voices of reason continue to challenge the agency’s reckless plans.

Later this summer, the EPA is expected to issue its final rule for regulating carbon emissions from power plants. The EPA’s proposal for those regulations is a classic case of government overreach, extending far beyond the fence lines of the power plants the EPA has authority to oversee, and usurping power from the people and agencies that guide our nation’s energy policy.

 The EPA’s carbon regulations would be just another expensive Washington boondoggle if not for one thing: This time, the physical safety of Americans is at stake because the regulations threaten to destabilize our electricity grid and harm the reliability of power we take for granted. By choosing winners and losers among energy resources, the EPA seeks to prematurely retire coal-fueled power plants, which have been the backbone of our power grid for generations. That’s right: Federal environmental regulators are telling states to change how electricity is generated regardless of whether new energy production and storage technologies are ready for prime time.

One bright spot in this contentious debate is the growing chorus of voices standing up to the EPA’s encroachment, including voices of North Dakotans who are in a position to bring a dose of prairie practicality to the debate. For instance, my former North Dakota Public Service Commission colleague Tony Clark — now serving on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) — has emerged as a stalwart defender of states’ rights to determine energy policy and the need to preserve reliability on our national electricity grid.

“What EPA is asking states to do, depending on how states choose to write their [state implementation plans], is to give EPA authority over things that it, on its own in the Clean Air Act, does not have authority to claim jurisdiction over,” Clark told a meeting of state utility regulators. “To the degree that you put that in a plan, and it gets a seal of approval from the EPA, that then becomes a federally enforceable plan. So what happens then is the administrator of EPA is really in charge of state energy policy. … It simply gives Washington so much authority over the decisions that have traditionally been made by state public utility commissions, legislators and governors.”

As a FERC commissioner, Clark is at ground zero for dealing with the fallout of the EPA’s rash proposals. “It’s not our rule,” he recently told another regional energy conference. “And yet just about every potential negative impact that folks have brought up are things that are squarely within FERC’s wheelhouse. Whether it’s related to the need for infrastructure because of the push towards natural gas; whether it’s potential market issues that come up at the seams in markets … whether it’s reliability issues, which in certain regions of the country we’re very concerned about — all of those are squarely within FERC’s wheelhouse.”

It’s reassuring to have people like Clark working to inject some sanity and practicality into the debate. Environmental protection is a goal Americans of all political persuasions share. Hikers, conservationists, outdoors people, farmers, ranchers and city folk alike are all in favor of preserving and improving our environment. But when Washington bureaucrats with a stroke of a pen threaten to upset systems that are far afield from their authority and expertise, it’s time to bring the discussion back to the real world.

This is why the Energy and Commerce Committee favorably reported, and I expect the full House of Representatives to pass, the Ratepayer Protection Act of 2015. The legislation would halt the rule for judicial review and significant adverse effect on ratepayers or reliability as determined by a state’s governor.

State officials should refuse to go along with the EPA’s proposals to seize new authority through the back door. And more people like Tony Clark need to speak up against dangerous and unprecedented EPA overreach. All Americans will benefit when voices of reason prevail.

Cramer has represented North Dakota as its at-large congressman since 2013. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

See the article here.

Indiana Says It Won’t Follow EPA Climate Rule Without Changes

Via The Hill:

Indiana is prepared to ignore the Obama administration’s climate rule for power plants unless the regulation is changed considerably from last year’s proposal, according to the state’s governor.

In a letter sent Wednesday to President Obama, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) used some of the strongest words yet from a governor on the regulation, though he stopped short of ruling out compliance.

“If your administration proceeds to finalize the Clean Power Plan, and the final rule has not demonstrably and significantly improved from the proposed rule, Indiana will not comply,” Pence wrote.

 “I believe the Clean Power Plan as proposed is a vast overreach of federal power that exceeds the EPA’s proper legal authority and fails to strike the proper balance between the health of the environment and the health of the economy,” he continued.

The regulation, as proposed in June, would rely on states to submit plans to the EPA on reducing their power sectors’ emissions by a rate determined by the agency. The rule has a total national goal of a 30 percent reduction by 2030.

Indiana’s goal is a 20 percent drop.

If a state does not submit a plan, the EPA would write its own rules for the state and enforce them, assuming the regulation is not blocked by Congress or the federal courts.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is the only state leader so far to instruct her staff to ignore the regulation.

Leaders in Texas and Wisconsin have voiced strong objections to the rule and expressed doubts that their states would comply, but have also stopped short of completely rejecting it.

“Our nation needs an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy that relies on a variety of different energy sources,” Pence wrote to Obama. “Energy policy should promote the safe, environmentally responsible stewardship of our natural resources with the goal of reliable, affordable energy. Your approach to energy policy places environmental concerns above all others.”

The rule is expected to significantly harm the coal industry, causing the shutdown of more than 20 percent of coal-fired power plants and greatly reducing the demand for coal.

Indiana gets 85 percent of its electricity from coal and ranks No. 8 in the nation in terms of coal production.

Indiana’s senior senator joined the coal industry in applauding Pence’s decision.

“The proposed rule would substantially raise electricity rates for Hoosier families, decrease electric grid reliability, hurt Indiana’s coal industry and undercut our state’s autonomy, all while yielding potentially negligible global carbon dioxide reductions,” Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said in a statement.

“Gov. Pence is right, the EPA should withdraw or substantially change this misguided rule,” he added.

“The governor’s decision not only protects Indiana’s economy,” said Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association, “it also sends a message that states will not be forced to accept EPA regulatory policies that harm their citizens.”

But the EPA defended its rule against Pence’s criticism.

“Called for by President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, EPA’s approach is built on a time-tested state-federal partnership in the Clean Air Act, which was established by Congress, for EPA to establish public health goals and then gives states important flexibility to design plans to meet their individual and unique needs,” EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said in a statement.

See the article here.

Pence: EPA Emissions Rules Need Changes or Indiana Won’t Comply

Via IndyStar.com:

WASHINGTON – Indiana will refuse to comply with pending rules restricting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants without major changes, Gov. Mike Pence wrote in a letter Wednesday to President Barack Obama.

“If your administration proceeds to finalize the Clean Power Plan, and the final rule has not demonstrably and significantly improved from the proposed rule, Indiana will not comply,” Pence wrote. “Our state will also reserve the right to use any legal means available to block the rule from being implemented.”

The rules are expected to be finalized in August.

Under the initial proposal, Indiana would have to reduce by 20 percent the amount of carbon dioxide generated per unit of electricity by 2030.

Indiana’s power plants produce more carbon dioxide than plants in all but three other states.

Indiana could come up with a plan for meeting that target on its own, and it could join with others for a multistate approach.

If a state does not act, the Environmental Protection Agency will impose its own plan. But congressional Republicans are hoping to take that option away from the EPA.

Indiana was among the 15 states that have already sued to stop the pending rules.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled earlier this month that the states have to wait until the rules are complete to challenge them.

The House is voting Wednesday on a measure to delay the rules.

See the article here.

Governor Pence Rejects Overreaching EPA Regulations

Indianapolis – Governor Pence sent a letter today to President Obama informing him that unless the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan is demonstrably and significantly improved before being finalized Indiana will not comply. The Governor’s letter in full can be found attached.

“As I wrote to Administrator McCarthy on December 1, 2014, the proposed rules are ‘ill-conceived and poorly constructed’ and they exceed the EPA’s legal authority under the Clean Air Act,” wrote Pence. “If your administration proceeds to finalize the Clean Power Plan, and the final rule has not demonstrably and significantly improved from the proposed rule, Indiana will not comply. Our state will also reserve the right to use any legal means available to block the rule from being implemented.”

“Our nation needs an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy that relies on a variety of different energy sources,” said Pence. “Energy policy should promote the safe, environmentally responsible stewardship of our natural resources with the goal of reliable, affordable energy. Your approach to energy policy places environmental concerns above all others.”

In addition Pence noted, “Higher electricity prices brought by the EPA’s plan will inhibit our ability to advance our manufacturing base and the jobs it creates.”

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan calls for a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels in Indiana by the year 2030. The proposed rules do not dictate how states achieve reduction.  Instead, the rule suggests four building blocks as guidelines for compliance. The rules will increase the cost of electricity and force the premature closure of coal-fired power plants, leading to concerns of electricity shortages. On December 1, 2014, Governor Pence and Indiana State agencies submitted letters to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy detailing the proposed rules’ impact on Indiana and urging their immediate withdrawal.

More than 26,000 Hoosiers are employed in the coal industry in Indiana. Governor Pence has pledged to fight the EPA’s regulations with all legal means at Indiana’s disposal.  Governor Pence’s comments today come on the heels of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissing State of West Virginia et al v. Environmental Protection Agency, Case No. 14-1112. Indiana was one of fourteen petitioners in the case, which asked the Court to review the legality of the EPA’s proposed regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. The Court of Appeals’ decision was based on procedural, not substantive, issues and does not preclude future litigation challenging the regulation.  Indiana intends to renew its challenge in the courts following the release of the final rule.

The EPA is expected to release the final rule in August.

See the press release here.

 

All-of-the-Above Means Coal Too

Via The East Tenn Business Journal: 

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to join my friend and colleague, Southwest Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith, at the Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance’s annual meeting in Kingsport. Coal is an important source of domestic energy.  Did you know that coal provides nearly 40 percent of America’s electricity and is used in 48 states?  In fact, the United States has more coal than any other country.  Despite the abundance of this key resource, the Obama administration is determined to bankrupt the coal industry.  In 2008, then-Senator Obama touted his opposition of the coal industry to the San Francisco Chronicle saying, “If somebody wants to open a coal-powered plant, they can.  It’s just that I will bankrupt them.”

Last year, President Obama unveiled a controversial “Clean Power Plan” to cut carbon emissions from existing coal-powered plants 30 percent by 2030.  This approach to curbing emissions is so unpopular with Congress and the American people that the president couldn’t get a Democrat-controlled House and Senate to pass a similar plan — the infamous Cap-and-Tax bill — back in 2009.  According to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the coal industry has invested nearly $120 billion to reduce emissions by 90 percent, but the administration is determined to push the standards to unachievable levels.  In fact, the administration punishes the industry when it reduces emissions voluntarily by not counting emissions reductions that have been achieved towards future targets.  It seems clear to anyone who has been paying attention to the EPA that the goal of their regulations is not to reduce emissions — it’s to end the use of coal as an energy source.

  While I agree that we should be good stewards of the environment, it’s foolish to punish an industry that Americans depend on, particularly when many other countries — particularly China — are continuing to build coal-fired power plants to meet their energy needs.  I am skeptical of the president’s claim that the rest of the world will follow our example on implementing similar standards.

  The president’s proposal won’t just affect the coal industry; consumers also lose under this proposal.  Some studies predict that there will be double-digit electricity rate hikes in 43 states, with 14 states seeing increases of more than 20 percent.  Going into the summer months, many American families count on electricity to cool their homes.  At a time when many are still struggling to make ends meet, it’s reckless to push policies that will burden families with higher electric bills.  In Tennessee, 34 percent of families live below the poverty line.  These families spend roughly 22 percent of their income on energy.  They are the ones who will be left behind by this plan.

  In February, I joined 43 of my colleagues in writing to Cheryl LaFleur, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, encouraging her to continue studying the effects of the president’s proposal.  The letter, led by Reps. Brett Guthrie and Gregg Harper, also raised concerns about the cost and availability of affordable electricity in extreme temperatures, particularly during cold winter months.

  I support an all-of-the-above energy plan, one that includes fossil fuels and renewables.  Coal must be part of our energy portfolio, not just for the reliable energy that it generates, but the good jobs that it provides.  I remain adamantly opposed to the president’s “Clean Power Plan” and will continue to look for ways to protecting the hardworking families that rely on affordable, coal-generated energy.

On May 7, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Patriot Act did not authorize the mass collection of Americans’ phone records, a victory for those of us who believe in protecting privacy rights.  I have long been concerned about the erosion of the civil liberties of American citizens, especially since security contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents revealing the National Security Agency’s (NSA) secret programs that allowed bulk collection of cell phone records without a warrant.

  While the threat of terrorism is very real and must be addressed aggressively — now more than ever, given the rise of ISIS — I strongly believe we cannot allow the government to chisel away our freedoms out of fear.  As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  It’s a delicate balance, but a balance we absolutely must fight to preserve.

  I’ve consistently opposed proposals I believe make us less free — including the 2011 reauthorization of the Patriot Act, the 2014 version of the USA Freedom Act and the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that, in my judgment, suspended civil rights for any individual classified as an “enemy combatant,” even if they are an American citizen.  One of the things that makes our country great — and distinguishes our legal system from other countries’ legal systems — is we give our citizens the right to due process.  In other words, you have a fundamental right to know what charge you are facing and the right to a speedy trial if you are an American citizen.

  This week, the House will again consider these issues by taking up the USA Freedom Act and the NDAA for fiscal year 2016.  As I mentioned, I voted against the USA Freedom Act when it was considered last May.  That version of the bill only limited the bulk collection of Americans’ cell phone records, and I believe we must completely end this practice.  While the House Judiciary Committee significantly improved this bill by dramatically limiting the abuse of bulk phone record collection to protect citizens’ rights, I believe it would be better for American citizens’ civil liberties to let Section 215 authority expire and consider a reauthorization of Section 215 without the pressure of a deadline.

  On Thursday, the House began consideration of H.R. 1735, the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.  This critical bill authorizes important national defense programs and is consistent with the joint House-Senate budget.  It reinforces our important mission to defeat ISIS and provides resources to stand strong against aggressors like Russia and Syria.   I am also pleased this bill prevents any prisoner from being moved from Guantanamo Bay to a detention facility in the United States.  Still, before I can make a decision on how I will vote, I need to read the final bill, including what amendments are included.   If this bill compromises conservative principles in any way, I will oppose it.  The amendment and debate process can fundamentally change a bill, so it’s important to closely monitor and engage in that process.

  As long as I am a Congressman, you can rest assured I will fight to protect the civil liberties of all American citizens.  If you are a citizen of this country you have certain rights and are entitled to due process — period.  These core principles of liberty are what set us apart from totalitarian governments and I will continue to oppose proposals that nibble away at freedom.  If we abandon the very principles that make America great, sooner or later we won’t have any freedoms left at all.

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., represents the 1st Congressional District of Tennessee. Roe is currently serving his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

See the article here.

GUEST COMMENTARY: EPA Plan Will Harm Indiana

Via NWI.com: 

For generations, Americans have enjoyed a little recognized advantage that most people in the world can only envy: reliable and affordable electricity.

Utility companies have invested heavily in new environmental controls and clean coal technologies, and made great progress in using our plentiful fossil fuel resources to provide affordable energy in a responsible and environmentally sound way.

But now the Environmental Protection Agency is pursuing implementation of “Clean Power Plan” regulations that would pre-empt this industrywide effort through so-called “federal-state partnership.”

This purported partnership with states would shift primary oversight of state and regional power-generation to the federal government, to the detriment of every electricity consumer. Through this partnership, federal regulators — and environmental activists — would gain de facto authority to restructure the electric power industry in Indiana and across the nation.

In doing so, they would impose what amounts to a new energy consumption tax that would have the greatest impact on those least able to afford it — families and seniors with modest or fixed incomes.

EPA, in its quest to fast-track the adoption of “green energy,” would gain a powerful tool to remove affordable coal-generated electricity from our energy mix and replace it with more costly energy sources subsidized by consumers through higher energy prices.

According to a study released last fall by the energy economics firm Energy Ventures Analysis Inc., by 2020 the EPA proposal would ratchet up the typical household’s annual electricity and natural gas bills by $680 compared to 2012 amounts, an increase of 35 percent. Industrial users would see a 56 percent increase, the report stated.

Worse yet, those amounts would escalate each year thereafter amid gradually tighter EPA regulations.

Consumers are not the only big losers in this equation. State governments lose out because the plan deprives them of much of their essential right to regulate and manage their state’s energy supply. Indiana’s elected leaders are far more likely than federal bureaucrats to provide the most economic benefit to their citizens at the most affordable cost.

The citizens of Indiana, particularly those with low or fixed incomes, cannot afford to pay the higher energy rates that are certain to result from this plan. It is time for Gov. Mike Pence to stop this proposed EPA action in its tracks.

The better choice is to reject EPA’s plan and let Indiana manage the energy needs of its citizens.

See the article here.

Eastern U.S. Braces for First Summer Without Coal Plants

Via The Washington Times:

The Eastern U.S. could be bracing for bigger summer electricity bills as power plant closures due to a host of federal emission regulations kick into high gear, according to energy market analysts.

Market analysts with Louisville, Ky., company Genscape confirmed this week that nearly eight gigawatts of primarily coal-fired power went dark as of Tuesday in the largest electricity market in the country, PJM Interconnection. That is enough electricity to power between 5.9 million-7.8 million homes.

PJM Interconnection is the grid operator that runs the electric delivery system across most of the densely populated areas of the eastern United States. The Genscape update on the power plant closures confirmed that the plants that went offline May 31-June 1 were critical to providing power to the system last summer when electric demand for cooling was at its peak.

With those plants now offline, analysts are waiting to see what happens, including a likely surge in electricity prices.

“Higher demand in addition to a thinner supply stack due to these retirements will likely lead to increased pricing particularly on those peak demand days,” Genscape market analyst Anne Williams told the Washington Examiner. Williams says demand is expected to be higher than last year, with higher temperatures forecasted for the summer compared to 2014.

A report published by Genscape ahead of Wednesday’s update acknowledged the potential for an upside swing in prices due to the plant closures.

The retirements are due primarily to the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules for controlling mercury and air pollutants from power plants that went into effect in April.

“Changing economic factors and recent developments in energy policies at both the state and federal level have precipitated a number of generator retirements across the country,” Williams said in a Wednesday blog post.

Genscape confirmed with PJM that 7.8 gigawatts of capacity was retired in the past few weeks following the Memorial Day weekend.

See the article.

EPA’s Clean Power Plan a ‘Cheap Shot’ at Pennsylvania Coal

In recent testimony before the Pennsylvania House and Senate Coal Caucuses, Pennsylvania Coal Alliance CEO John Pippy said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Clean Power Plan” will be “the cheap shot that cripples the industry.”

ELECTRIC SHOCK: The CEO of Pennsylvania Coal Alliance has sobering words for the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan when coal powers nearly 40 percent of the state’s electricity.

Pippy made the comment in reference to a proposed rule by the EPA to reduce gas emissions by 32 percent over 2012 levels of currently reported emissions. If the rules are approved, emissions would have to be reduced by the year 2030.

Pippy explained that coal accounts for nearly 40 percent of the electricity generated in Pennsylvania and the steam coal market represents about 80 percent of the state’s market for coal.

“Any law or regulation that deliberately or unintentionally impedes coal usage by electric generators not only threatens the affordability and reliability of electricity to ratepayers but will also cause severe economic consequences to coal production, jobs, and livelihoods, local tax bases and the overall state economy,” Pippy said.

Via Watchdog.org:

“The Environmental Protection Agency has taken advantage of the cyclical market conditions created by the influx of cheap natural gas and a decrease in electric demand to introduce the harshest regulation on the coal industry to date. While the price of natural gas is sure to fluctuate and the demand for electricity to rise as the economy strengthens, the EPA’s proposed “Clean Power Plan” will be the cheap shot that cripples the industry from rebounding when the demand market returns.”

Throughout his testimony, Pippy referenced the attempts already designed to decrease coal emissions, citing an 85 percent per electric unit drop, which he said meets and exceeds previous EPA regulated air quality emissions mandated by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Due to the predictable and reliable standards of coal, Pippy said it allows “energy-intensive industries such as manufacturing to be able to forecast pricing and do business in Pennsylvania.”

In agreement with Pippy’s testimony is The Institute for 21st Century Energy. Theycite an analysis completed by Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical arm of the Department of Energy,of the EPA’s proposed regulations. They focus on economic and climate costs and benefits of new EPA regulations versus a business as usual scenario.

That data proves:

  • cumulative economic costs over the Clean Power Plan’s 2020 to 2030 compliance period are estimated $1.23 trillion in lost Gross Domestic Product, with a peak annual loss of $159 billion in 2025, which amounts to an average annual GDP hit over the compliance period of $112 billion
  • from 2020 to 2030, EIA estimates it will cost an average of $199 in lost economic growth for each ton of carbon dioxide reduced, reaching an extraordinarily high value of $316 per ton in 2021
  • most of the claimed climate benefits from decreasing emissions would occur beyond U.S. borders

The Institute concluded in its findings:

Maybe creating a huge new bureaucracy to implement carbon dioxide regulations that would highjack well-established state authority, disrupt the entire U.S. electricity sector, jeopardize the reliability of the electric grid, raise electricity costs on struggling families, and yield an estimated net loss in wealth of $899 billion to $1.16 trillion is appealing to EPA. But for the rest of the country, it’s decidedly a bad deal. The Energy Institute has said repeatedly that the Clean Air Act is the wrong vehicle for regulating greenhouse gas emissions. EIA’s analysis proves it.

See the article here.

Montana Should Reject Californication of Power Grid

Via The Missoulian: 

The idea of Montana doing things “the California way” doesn’t make much sense. Unfortunately, Montanans might not have a choice if the Obama administration has its way.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon finalize the Clean Power Plan, requiring states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

To meet these drastic reductions, which will have no impact on global temperatures, every state, including Montana, will have to impose California-style taxes, manipulate markets, and enforce short-sighted mandates — the same policies that have contributed to the Golden State’s sky-high energy prices and persistently high unemployment.

Take it from a native Californian: You don’t want our energy policies.

In 2006, California passed its landmark energy mandate, AB 32, requiring citizens and industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Central to the law is California’s cap-and-trade system, a costly and convoluted carbon-trading scheme that is the stuff of Enron’s dreams. Another piece is California’s renewable electricity mandate, which requires utilities to purchase 33 percent of their electricity from unreliable sources like wind and solar by 2020.

California’s regulatory scheme is tortuous. The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy counts 200 different state programs in California that mandate or subsidize renewable energy production. That’s on top of the 28 federal programs that further inflate California’s renewables industry and raise consumer prices.

These programs were supposed to “drive long-term investment” in wind and solar. Instead, California’s green energy dream has turned into a nightmare. Residential electricity prices are 40 percent higher than the national average and eighth highest in the nation.

Additionally, California suffers from an increasingly unreliable electric grid. The state produces diminishing amounts of electricity from the controllable sources operators use to keep the lights on. California’s grid operator has warned that, with less generation from conventional sources and more from unreliable, spasmodic renewable sources, “the system becomes increasingly exposed to blackouts when generation or transmission outages occur.”

Despite these ill effects on the economy and the power grid, the EPA and national environmental groups think policymakers in Sacramento got it right. They say California has a head start on EPA’s grid of the future.

However, these observers fail to realize that California’s foolish policies make even less sense for the rest of the country.

First, California is blessed with mild temperatures, so heating and cooling expenses take less of a toll in California than most other places in the U.S. Second, California currently imports much of the reliable power it needs. If Montana and every other state in the country imposed California’s regulatory scheme, we would run out of places to produce reliable electricity.

Third, California’s economy does not support energy-intensive manufacturing. Part of the reason the manufacturing industry left California in the first place is its high energy costs.

Washington hasn’t learned from California’s failures. The Clean Power Plan calls on states to submit plans for how they intend to comply, and EPA pretends it is offering states flexibility to choose from a variety of policy mechanisms. But the rule is so strict that, in reality, EPA is forcing states to impose some mix of California-style capping, taxing, and mandating.

The EPA hails California as a model for the nation, but it’s more like a cautionary tale. States that aren’t interested in higher energy costs, grid reliability problems, and lower living standards should reject EPA’s calls to submit a compliance plan.

States that choose to comply will become accomplices in EPA’s plan to export California’s failed energy policies nationwide. If policymakers in Helena come up with the same answers as the ones in Sacramento, they’re asking the wrong questions.

See the article here.

EPA Coal Power Cuts Raise Electric Bills as Obama Advances his Climate Change Agenda

Via The Washington Times:

Consumers will see significantly higher electric bills this summer, the federal government predicts, and there is mounting evidence that President Obama’s climate change regulations are at least partly to blame.

On average, Americans will spend nearly 4.8 percent more on electricity this summer than they did last year, according to a report from the Energy Information Administration. The increase will come from a 2.6 percent increase in electricity use and a 2.1 increase in the average price of retail electricity, the agency said.

Consumers are receiving the dim news as utilities take tens of thousands of megawatts of coal-generated power offline to comply with a host of EPA regulations and because of the sharp increase in cheap, domestic natural gas. Regulations such as the EPA’s mercury and air toxic standards already are having an effect on the power sector, utilities and analysts say, and the impact will be greater after the agency releases further limits on carbon emissions from power plants this summer.

Coal-fired facilities emit higher levels of carbon than those burning natural gas, though coal remains cheaper. The Energy Information Administration says coal power this year will cost $2.30 per million British thermal units compared with $3.86 for natural gas.

Still, EPA officials deny their regulations will carry negative consequences for consumers. In fact, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy argued last week that average Americans ultimately will see lower electric bills as a result of Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda.

But analysts and Energy Information Administration research suggest the opposite, at least for the next decade.

EPA completely ignores the fact that building new power plants is far more expensive than maintaining existing ones. We have a situation where EPA is forcing the closures of perfectly good and affordable power plants and trying to replace them with new, more expensive plants. This means higher electricity rates for Americans,” said Travis Fisher, an economist with the Institute for Energy Research, a Washington think tank that has been skeptical of the EPA’s work under Mr. Obama.

EPA’s claim that its regulation will lower electricity bills is misleading,” Mr. Fisher said. “In reality, electricity rates will skyrocket under the proposed rule. The only way power bills will go down is if EPA succeeds in making Americans use substantially less electricity than we currently do. It’s like telling people that their grocery bill will go down if they’re forced to stop buying the food they need to feed their family.”

Last month, the EIA released data showing that the administration’s carbon rules for existing power plants — known as the Clean Power Plan — will result in a spike in electricity prices. From 2020 to 2025, the EIA said, prices will be 3 percent to 7 percent higher as a result of the plan, though the agency does predict prices in many parts of the country to drop by 2030.

EPA officials acknowledge a short-term bump in electric bills. Ms. McCarthy told business leaders last week that consumers can expect their bills to jump by a few dollars a month immediately after the Clean Power Plan takes effect.

But over time, she said, Americans’ bills will drop by as much as 8 percent.

“Not all carbon reduction strategies actually cost money,” Ms. McCarthy said. “We will not lose sight, as we do this final rule, with both the cost and benefits, particularly as it relates to the costs of electricity pricing for consumers and for businesses.”

The expected increase this summer will be relatively small. According to EIA figures from 2013 — the latest data available — the average American monthly electric bill was $111.08. The projected 4.8 percent increase would add about $5.33 to a household’s bill each month, or about $16 over the course of June, July and August.

Obama administration critics blame the EPA regulations, but some market analysts say a hot summer is the culprit. Indeed, EIA researchers predict that Americans will run their air conditioners more than they did last year.

The projected increases “most likely have something to do with the weather. Traditionally, price rates have been fairly flat year over year,” said Farah Saeed, principal consultant for energy and power systems at Frost & Sullivan.

The effects of Mr. Obama’s climate change regulations on electric bills could grow substantially as more coal power sources are shut down.

Utility industry leaders say about 73,000 megawatts of coal-fired generation will be shut down from 2010 to 2020 because of the EPA’s mercury and air toxic rules and other regulations.

If the Clean Power Plan goes into effect as scheduled, nearly 50,000 additional megawatts will be taken offline, the EPA predicts. Industry insiders say the true figures will be much higher.

On the global front, Mr. Obama and other members of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations recently committed to cutting worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2050 and phasing out fossil fuels by the end of the century.

Coal advocates say the president, as well as heads of state around the world, are making a grave error in thinking they can sustain economic growth without fossil fuels.

“Suggesting our world can move forward successfully without the use of fossil-fuel-based energy, including coal, would be ludicrous if it weren’t so dangerous,” said Laura Sheehan, senior vice president for communications at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. “Our leaders, especially those in the G-7, must face facts and have the gumption to pursue common-sense energy policies that prioritize the very real needs of domestic and international populations for centuries to come.”

See the article here.

 

Traditional Energy Sources Are Key to Our Future

Via U.S. News & World Report:

Access to affordable energy is critically important to every American family. While the United States should aggressively pursue an all-of-the-above energy approach, it is clear that traditional energy sources will play a vital role in powering our nation for generations to come.

As a proponent of an all-of-the-above energy plan, I know we need alternative energy sources to remain globally competitive and meet our nation’s rising demand for energy. But in order to keep energy prices low for all Americans and support our nation’s energy needs, traditional energy sources must remain at the center of America’s energy policy.

In Montana, more than of half our electricity comes from coal. Coal also powers good-paying jobs for thousands of Montanans, including Montana tribal members and union workers, and generates nearly $120 million in tax revenue every year.

Earlier this year, I held the first ever Senate field hearing on Montana’s Crow Reservation to hear firsthand the importance of coal to our tribal economies. Current unemployment on the Crow reservation is nearly 50 percent, but it would easily be over 80 percent if it weren’t for the local jobs that coal supports.

Yet an onslaught of duplicative and constantly changing federal regulations make it harder each day to develop our nation’s coal reserves and oil and natural gas resources.

The Obama administration’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” not only makes the construction of any new coal-fired power plants virtually impossible, it makes the retirement of existing plants inevitable within the next few decades.

Shuttering our coal-fired power plants would be devastating for our economy. Energy rates would skyrocket. Thousands of family-wage jobs would be lost. And critical tax revenue for schools and roads would evaporate.

We need to put in place today common sense policies that ensure we are making pragmatic decisions to secure stable and lower energy prices in the future.

Coal, oil and natural gas will continue holding a critical role in powering the world for the foreseeable future. Rather than dismissing this reality, the United States should be on the cutting edge of technological advances in energy development and leading the way in promoting the use of clean, affordable American energy.

Our nation’s coal – and specifically, the coal found in Montana’s Power River Basin – is some of the cleanest in the world. We have the ability to provide coal in the most environmentally safe fashion, to not only benefit our domestic customers, but the global economy as well.

As persistent conflicts overseas make clear, the world needs more made in America energy, not more made in the Middle East. We need to expand markets for American-made energy by lifting barriers for exports and moving forward construction of job-creating ports, like the Gateway Pacific Terminal.

More than 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity— more than half living in developing Asian nations. Coal-powered electricity won’t just meet a rising demand for energy in these regions. It will also help lift countless families out of poverty.

As the world sees an increased demand for power, it’s clear that traditional energy sources generated from our federal and tribal lands, including Montana’s Powder River Basin and the Bakken oil formation, have the potential to meet this rising global energy demand.

America is poised to lead the world’s energy needs. But we can’t do so without fully embracing an all-of-the-above strategy that includes traditional energy sources.

See the article here.

Administration Policies, Not Market Forces, Causing Lasting Pain for Coal Communities

Pittsburg, Pa. – The nation’s coal industry and its dependent communities are enduring a difficult realignment of supply and demand, but the more lasting damage is caused by the “relentless offensive we face from President Obama’s regulators,” said a mining industry leader in Pittsburgh today. “It’s the reckless destruction of useful assets that contribute affordable and reliable power to an entire nation,” said Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

In a keynote address at the annual Longwall USA Exhibition and Conference, Quinn itemized the long list of costly regulations – from the moratorium on coal permits to power plant regulations that provide no health benefits – that in the past several years have destroyed present and future markets for coal producers throughout the country. The result has been additional mine closures, tens of thousands of additional job losses and deeper economic woes for coal communities.

“Every industry faces a tough market at one time or another,” said Quinn. “Few, if any, American industries have faced an existential crisis brought about by their own government.” Quinn refuted the administration’s line that market forces, not policies, account for industry’s woes. Despite massive coal plant closures from prior regulations, the Department of Energy’s own 2016 Energy Outlook shows U.S. coal-based power generation would still rise through 2025 but for the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.

“With that market-distorting policy,” said Quinn, “the government’s own experts show the impact on coal becomes severe, forcing the closure of almost twice the coal-based capacity than under the current scenario.”

From this impact all Americans can expect less reliable electricity supply and more expensive electricity, with more than 40 states facing utility bills climbing by double digits.

“Contrary to the administration’s false narrative, this is not market driven,” said Quinn. “It is policy driven asset destruction and its attendant human toll on a massive scale.” Natural gas prices alone have not separated 45,000 coal miners from their high-wage jobs over the past three years or closed up to 60 Gigawatts of power capacity.

This is a policy-driven campaign all the more remarkable for its determination to avoid congressional approval and the judgement of American people. “The campaign is brought about by regulatory fiat, not by congressionally authorized legislation,” said Quinn. The marginalization of Congress puts unelected regulators in charge and “largely makes the American voter a passive observer to a transformation of the power grid that will affect everyone’s budget for years to come,” he said.

Nor are the benefits to the environment remotely commensurate with the costs. An earlier rule to control emissions that accounted for most of the closures of affordable electricity generation provided no discernable health benefits. The benefit from EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas regulation is similarly insignificant. In just one year, 2013, global emissions rose by 630 tons – or about 90 percent of the total reductions the Administration would achieve in over 15 years with its proposed power plan.

The administration dismisses legal and legislative challenges to its latest regulations as obstructionism. Yet by refusing to submit its agenda to Congress for approval, said Quinn, the administration acknowledges that members of both parties have repeatedly rejected the very scheme EPA now wants to impose on the country. “Congress is understandably reluctant or unwilling to impose a carbon trading scheme and a carbon tax—both central features of EPA’s power plan rule,” he said.

Advances in mining technology have consistently helped the industry mine more efficiently, more safely and improve its environmental performance. But the coal industry and the many thousands of Americans who rely on it must have balanced public policy to continue this enviable record, said Quinn.

See the press release here.

Pennsylvania House, Senate Coal Caucuses Convene at State Capitol

Via NorthcentralPA.com:

HARRISBURG – A bipartisan group of state legislators met Tuesday at the Capitol Building to discuss the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed “Clean Power Plan” and its impact on Pennsylvania’s job climate, electric rates and overall economy.

The House and Senate Coal Caucus public hearing featured testimony from John Pippy, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance; Eugene Trisko, Counsel to United Mine Workers of America; Gary Merritt, North Star Generation and Vince Brisini, Olympus Power.

The EPA’s proposed plan would seek to cut carbon pollution from nationwide coal-fired power plants by 30 percent in 2030, compared to 2005 levels.  The plan is being developed under the Clean Air Act.

Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the nation in coal production, according to the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance.  The industry also employs over 36,000 workers.

During the hearing Coal Alliance CEO John Pippy noted that the EPA has taken advantage of the current market conditions to deliver a devastating blow to the coal industry.  “While the price of natural gas is sure to fluctuate and the demand for electricity to rise as the economy strengthens, this regulation will be the cheap shot that cripples the industry from rebounding when the demand market returns,” Pippy said.

“Plainly stated, to achieve the carbon dioxide reduction goals from existing generators, the plan must significantly limit the use of coal and coal-refuse and then mandate other resources to provide the necessary electricity to preserve electric grid reliability,” said Vince Brisini of Olympus Power.  “This regulation appears to be drafted to speed the retirement of the coal-fired and coal refuse-fired electric generation industry in the United States and to provide mandated markets for other electricity resources.”

“It should make a lot of people here angry,” said state Senator Gene Yaw, co-chair of the Senate Coal Caucus.  We’re going against diversity in our energy field.  The proposed regulations by the EPA should concern everyone, especially electric rate payers.”

Last session, the General Assembly passed and Governor Tom Corbett signed Act 175 of 2014 that requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop a state-specific carbon reduction plan. The Act also requires the plan to be submitted and approved by both chambers of the state legislature prior to being formally submitted to the EPA.

The EPA announced it will finalize the proposed Clean Power Plan by mid-summer 2015.

See the article here.

 

Temporary Setback: States Must Continue EPA Fight

Via The Bluefield Daily Telegraph:

We were not surprised by last week’s decision by a federal appeals court to throw out a pair of high-profile lawsuits challenging the Obama administration’s controversial plan to curb pollution at the expense of coal mining and the nation’s existing coal-fired power plants. That’s because the court warned early into the proceedings that it would be difficult to issue a ruling on a proposed rule that is not yet final. And we certainly don’t dispute that argument.

But West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, and the 14 other state attorney generals who are challenging this controversial rule, were correct in taking proactive steps to challenge the EPA and the Obama administration in court before the new rules were finalized. And they most certainly should refile their legal chance once the EPA rules become final later this summer.

The lawsuits from the coalition of 15 states and the nation’s largest privately-held coal mining company argued that the EPA exceeded its authority last year when it proposed the far-reaching plan to curb pollution from the nation’s existing coal-fired power plants.

The states challenging the EPA plan are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming and Wisconsin. Noticeably absent from that list is Virginia — a coal-producing state.

Opponents correctly argue that the EPA plan will — and already has — resulted in the loss of thousands of coal-mining jobs and the closure of coal-fired power plants. They also warn that the closure of these coal-fired power plants will drive up electricity rates for Americans across the country. The states and Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp. maintain that the plan is illegal because the EPA already regulates other power plant pollutants under a different section of the Clean Air Act. They say the law prohibits “double regulation,” the Associated Press reported last week.

The court’s ruling should be viewed as only a temporary setback, as the 15 states plan to refile their lawsuit once the EPA rules are finalized later this summer.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he was disappointed with the ruling but added “we still think we have a compelling case that the rule is unlawful.” He said the state would continue with litigation to stop “this unlawful power grab by Washington bureaucrats.”

We urge Morrisey, and the 14 other state attorney generals, to continue this battle. We’ve already seen great harm done to the coalfields of southern West Virginia and neighboring Southwest Virginia as a result of these proposed new EPA rules. That’s why it is so important for both state and federal lawmakers to continue this fight.

Thousands of jobs have already been lost across the coalfields. We simply can’t sit back and allow further harm to be done to our region.

See the article here.

Another Opinion: Clean Power Plan Will Lead to Increased Costs

Via The Daily Times: 

In this year’s State of the Union Address, President Obama promoted his vision of “middle-class economics.” As part of his program, he pledged to lower taxes for working families, “putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.” Alas, what his budget proposal pledged to giveth, his energy policy taketh away. The industry regulations pushed by Obama’s EPA, conflict with the president’s stated budget intentions by foisting higher household energy costs that fall disproportionately on the poorest among us.

In a free market, entrepreneurs serve society tremendously by coordinating the entire market division of labor, directing scarce resources toward their most highly valued use as determined by members of society. The price system ensures that those who produce the most demanded goods in the most efficient way will reap profits, while those who fail to do so will reap losses.

Business regulations serve to hamper this beneficent market process. Regardless of any other purposes they serve, regulations constrain entrepreneurs from arranging production processes in their best, most efficient pattern. They necessarily increase costs of production and decrease the quantity of products people have available to satisfy their ends. In short, business regulation results in relative impoverishment.

Such consequences are certainly true in the area of energy industry regulation. It is naive in the extreme to think that we can painlessly solve perceived present and future problems related to the production and use of energy through regulation. The EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” mandates that by 2030 carbon emissions from the energy industry must be reduced by 30 percent compared to their 2005 levels. This is to be achieved by four building blocks: increased efficiency by existing fossil fuel power plants, increased energy production using natural gas, increased use of solar and wind sources, and customers using electricity more efficiently.

Alas, given current energy market conditions and level of technology, the Clean Power Plan will result in significant cost increases to producers. Industry experts estimate that compliance will lead to the forced shut down of 70 percent of coal-fired energy plants. By their very nature, the mandates will hasten switching from coal-fired plants to natural gas plants and wind sources before it is economically wise to do so. We dare not forget that a given production process does not become socially beneficial merely because it is technologically possible. We have the technology, for example, to produce large quantities of water in a laboratory setting, but we do not do so because it makes no economic sense. The cost of making water in a lab is much greater than obtaining water from natural sources. Similarly, it is needlessly wasteful to force energy producers to switch from coal-fired plants that are operating at a profit to another less profitable source of generation. Of course, if it is more profitable, entrepreneurs already have an incentive to be using that process. Mandating the switch forces electricity producers to consume capital. Imagine the impact on your budget of being forced to buy a new lap top computer every year before your present one wears out or becomes obsolete. That is the equivalent of what the EPA is requiring of electricity producers. Additionally, such forced transition always imposes costs associated with infrastructure, plant shut-downs, and stranded assets.

That the new EPA constraints on energy production will result in higher energy costs is nowhere near a secret. Various studies by energy economists estimate the total compliance costs to be from $174 billion to $479 billion. This is more than three times the total cost of the previously most expensive EPA energy industry regulation.

Such increased costs necessarily reduce the supply of coal-fired electricity because producers can generate less output with the same quantity of investment. Average wholesale electricity costs are anticipated to increase an estimated $25-$30 billion per year. Retail electricity prices are estimated to increase from 8 to 17 percent due to the Clean Power Plan.

Such increases would continue a disturbing economic trend. For U.S. households with gross annual incomes less than $50,000 (almost half the households in the nation), total real energy costs have increased 27 percent since 2001. At same time, real disposable incomes have decreased by 22 percent. The percentage of income spent on energy has increased significantly. In 2001 these households spent on average 12 percent of their income on energy costs. By 2014 energy expenses increased to 20 percent of disposable income.

Make no mistake, general regulation of the production of common necessities, such as energy, functions like a tax, and a regressive one at that. Lower income families are the most vulnerable to higher energy costs. While those households with disposable income above $50,000 a year spent 8 percent of their income on energy last year, those with annual incomes less than $30,000 spent 26 percent of their income on energy. Higher energy prices due to President Obama’s Clean Power Plan hit the poor the hardest, just like a regressive tax does.

On top of higher energy costs, everything else will become more expensive to produce. Higher energy prices increase costs of production. Energy regulations and their effects direct production contrary to the natural division of labor. General productivity and output, therefore, will be lower than otherwise. All of us, including the poor, end up paying higher prices for fewer goods. Increased impoverishment is exactly the opposite of what President Obama says he desire to combat.

The president recently participated in a round-table discussion considering how to reduce poverty in the United States. This surely is a laudable goal. If he is serious in this endeavor, one of the best, most direct and efficacious acts the President can take is to call off the dogs at the EPA. He should junk the so-called Clean Power Plan and halt its draconian war against the poor.

Shawn Ritenour is professor of economics at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa. He is also an associated scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and contributing scholar for the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College.

See the article here.

 

Pluses and Minuses of a Carbon Tax

Via The New York Times:

NMA CEO Hal Quinn responds to the June 7th editorial: “The Case for a Carbon Tax”:

To the Editor:

Your editorial correctly assesses the Big Six European oil and gas chief executives’ call for a carbon tax as anything but a bold environmental stand. Self-interest motivates their plea for taxes to displace their chief competitor, coal, especially in developing countries using coal to power their economies and lift hundreds of millions from poverty.

Equating federal and state gasoline taxes in the United States to a carbon tax is strained. A better example would be the carbon adder embedded in the Environmental Protection Agency’s power plant proposal.

The agency’s plan relies upon a $33-per-ton carbon penalty to force the use of more expensive electricity over cheaper sources. According to the Southwest Power Pool, the grid operator for eight states, the proposal will require it to effectively impose a $45-per-ton carbon tax on its customers.

The emission reductions under the E.P.A.’s costly power plan over 10 years will be largely wiped out by global emissions in a single year.

President and Chief Executive

National Mining Association

Washington

See the letter to the editor here.

Don’t Let the EPA Badger Wisconsin

Via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The federal government is set to impose drastic new regulations on carbon dioxide that will saddle Wisconsin families with higher energy bills and eliminate thousands of jobs — and now we need our leaders to fight back.

In a few months, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will finalize rules requiring states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by 2030. The EPA is pressuring states to submit plans detailing how they intend to comply with the rule.

The bottom line: Wisconsin should reject the EPA’s calls to submit a plan. The regulation is an assault on our state’s sovereignty that Wisconsin families simply cannot afford.

Wisconsin is fortunate to have affordable electricity thanks to an abundance of low-cost, reliable power plants fueled primarily by coal. However, the EPA’s carbon dioxide regulation is designed to shut down affordable coal-fired generators that produce 62% of Wisconsin’s electricity and replace them with more costly wind and solar sources.

The state Public Service Commission found that complying with the EPA’s rule would inflict steep costs on Badger State families, with electricity rates skyrocketing by 29%. This is consistent with a report we conducted earlier this year at the MacIver Institute in conjunction with the Beacon Hill Institute.

Our report found that the EPA’s rule would raise Wisconsin’s electricity prices by 19% and destroy nearly 21,000 jobs by 2030.

The reason is simple: It is expensive — and unnecessary — to scrap affordable coal plants and replace them with new plants from more expensive sources such as wind and solar, especially when utilities can pass on the costs of building new plants to customers at a double-digit rate of return.

In this sense, the EPA’s rule is a wealth transfer from Wisconsin families to rent-seeking utilities and renewable energy producers. Even worse, it inflicts the most harm on the families who can least afford it. Wisconsin’s low-income households, who spend a higher share of their income on energy, will bear the brunt of these costs.

Complying with the EPA rule will hand over Wisconsin’s ability to make our own energy choices to the whims of federal bureaucrats who are pursuing a political agenda. Wisconsin has already made significant progress lowering our CO2, reducing emissions by 15% between 2005 and 2012. We did this all on our own, without any help from the federal government. We don’t need the bureaucrats at the EPA badgering us about the way life should be in Wisconsin.

Fortunately, momentum is on our side. Wisconsin is one of 14 states to sue the EPA over the rule. Last month, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed an executive order blocking state regulators from developing a plan. Several other states have also imposed accountability measures to make sure any attempt to submit a state plan receives approval from elected officials before being sent to the EPA. And most recently, Gov. Scott Walker sent a letter to the EPA, saying the rule “is riddled with inaccuracies, questionable assumptions and deficiencies that make the development of a responsible state plan unworkable for Wisconsin.”

That’s why Walker and legislative leaders should protect state sovereignty and refuse to submit a plan. We can no longer allow faceless and unelected bureaucrats to issue decrees that fundamentally change our way of life.

If enough states do resist, the EPA will be overwhelmed developing federal plans, which would likely delay implementation and give the legal process more time to play out.

The EPA’s rule is an affront to Wisconsin families. It will send energy prices soaring and put thousands of hard-working Wisconsinites out of work. To truly protect Wisconsin from the detrimental effects of this rule, our elected leaders need to stand up to the EPA and do what is right for Wisconsin.

Brett Healy is president of the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy.

See the article here.

To Save Jobs, the Coal Industry Must be Allowed to Evolve

Via The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

As a veteran proud to serve this great country, I was confused by President Barack Obama’s comments prioritizing climate change as an “immediate risk” and disappointed that it was praised in the May 30 editorial “Military Burden: Obama Warns of a New Climate Change Worry.”

The United States is the only country among the top energy producers to have reduced carbon emissions in the last decade. Reducing carbon emissions is a worthy goal but not an “immediate risk” military priority.

We should continue to invest in technology to evolve the coal industry as the demand grows globally. Not only can we build the American economy by exporting, but we can lead the world in clean coal technology.

The destruction of the coal industry has been targeted as the silver bullet to climate change and subsequently thousands of jobs will be lost, including mine. But carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants in the United States account for less than 4 percent of emissions globally. Developing nations are not slowing down in the production and consumption of coal.

The transportation sector has been given incremental fuel economy goals that are attainable without shuttering an entire industry. Why is coal not being afforded the same opportunity to evolve?

As we are forced to divest and our electric rates are raised, jobs in manufacturing and production — good jobs, the jobs I fought to defend — will go overseas where electricity from coal-fired power plants is cheaper, but the process is far less environmentally friendly.

As other countries benefit on the back of coal, we will be standing alone with a weakened economy and unemployed industry, and for what gain?

TIMOTHY J. STEWART JR.
Washington, Pa.

See the article here.

EPA Clean Power Plan Will Hit Blacks And Hispanics Hardest

Via Investor’s Business Daily:

The Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and environmental activists frequently claim that climate change will disproportionately affect poor and minority communities.

This, they argue, justifies unprecedented environmental regulations like the EPA’s soon-to-be-finalized “Clean Power Plan” to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.

But what effect will the regulation itself have on minority communities? A new study commissioned by my organization, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, answers this question.

The Clean Power Plan will lead to lost jobs, lower incomes and higher poverty rates for the 128 million blacks and Hispanics living in America. This should serve as a warning to federal and state lawmakers as they prepare for this sweeping regulation to go into effect in the coming months.

The underlying economics explain why this regulation will inflict the most severe harm on our communities.
The study estimates that restructuring America’s energy grid, which the EPA’s rule will require, will lead to $565 billion in higher annual electricity costs by 2030, when the regulation will be fully implemented.

With blacks and Hispanics spending a larger share of their income on energy than whites, the burden of higher costs will fall hardest on minorities. We will be hurt again through job losses, as businesses take steps to mitigate the damage of higher overhead.

The study estimates that this single regulation will cause cumulative job losses for blacks and Hispanics of roughly 7 million and 12 million, respectively, over the next 20 years. Over the same time period, black families can expect their annual incomes to fall by $455, while Hispanics will take home $515 less per year.

This regulation will also impose higher costs of living, which again hit minority families the hardest. Today, blacks spend 10% more of their income on housing, 20% more on food, 40% more on clothing and 50% more on utilities than do white families.
Similar disparities exist for Hispanics: 5% more on housing, 10% more on utilities, 40% more on clothing and fully 90% more on food.

By raising energy prices, EPA’s rule will make these essential items more expensive — knocking minority communities down another rung on the economic ladder.

These factors — fewer jobs, lower incomes and higher costs of living — threaten to impoverish millions. The study estimates that the regulation will increase black and Hispanic poverty by 23% and 26%, respectively. We work hard to provide a better future for our children, yet this regulation only pushes the American dream even further out of reach.

Read the article here.

 

EIA: Clean Power Plan Will Increase Prices, Reduce Reliability

Via The Muscatine Journal:

The EPA’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants has come under fire from utilities, regional grid operators, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) — basically, any entity that has some responsibility for seeing that consumers are provided with reliable and affordable electricity. Now, even the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, confirms what the energy experts have been saying all along — the Clean Power Plan will raise electricity prices and result in a much greater loss of coal generation than the EPA projected, risking the reliability of the grid.

In a report issued on May 22, the EIA forecasts a 90 GW loss of coal generation because of the Clean Power Plan, which is the equivalent of providing power for about 63 million homes. Even more troubling, the EIA projects that most of these coal plant closings will occur by 2020 to meet the Clean Power Plan’s interim goals. The EIA says that this would require “significant investment” in alternative forms of electricity generation to fill the void. Not only would this raise electricity prices by 5.9 percent by 2020, the additional infrastructure necessary to build replacement generation simply cannot be planned, designed, constructed, tested, and placed into operation in the less than five years to 2020. That is why so many entities responsible for the reliability of the electric grid have been critical of the EPA’s plan — that much capacity cannot be replaced in such a short period of time.

The EIA report states that the Clean Power Plan “increases natural gas use significantly.” The analysis shows the rule would move generation away from baseload coal, nuclear and hydropower, which are located on-site, and toward natural gas, which requires real-time fuel delivery, and renewables, which are intermittent. And, as we learned during the Polar Vortex during the winter of 2013-2014, surging demand for electricity to keep the lights on — as well as to heat homes and businesses — was met by coal. In fact, American Electric Power, one of Ohio’s biggest utilities, later reported that 90 percent of their coal plants slated for retirement were running full speed just to meet that peak demand. Natural gas couldn’t shoulder that burden, due in part to a shortage of infrastructure to deliver gas where it was needed — this despite record-setting production in the Marcellus Shale. But more importantly, whereas coal’s sole purpose is to generate electricity, natural gas is also used for home heating. And when push comes to shove, heating gets priority over generation. The EPA’s assumption that natural gas and renewables can replace coal, especially during times of peak demand, is misplaced, and grid reliability will suffer as a result. The EPA simply doesn’t acknowledge the obvious — its plan will reduce reliability of the grid.

The EPA cannot continue to ignore the serious concerns of so many energy experts and entities — including the U.S. Department of Energy — that are responsible for reliable and affordable electricity. The Clean Power Plan propels our energy policy in the wrong direction, and it should be scrapped.

Terry M. Jarrett was appointed to the Missouri Public Service Commission in 2007. During his six years as a state utilities regulator, Jarrett became a nationally recognized leader in energy, utility and regulatory issues. 

See the article here.

Here’s How We Can Stop the EPA’s War on the Poor

Via The Patriot News: 

In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama promoted his vision of “middle-class economics.”

As part of his program, he pledged to lower taxes for working families, “putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.”

Alas, what his budget proposal pledged to giveth, his energy policy taketh away. The industry regulations pushed by Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency, conflict with his stated budget intentions by foisting higher household energy costs that fall disproportionately on the poorest among us.

In a free market, entrepreneurs serve society tremendously by coordinating the entire market division of labor, directing scarce resources toward their most highly valued use as determined by members of society.

The price system ensures that those who produce the most demanded goods in the most efficient way will reap profits, while those who fail to do so will reap losses.

Higher energy prices due to the Clean Power Plan hit the poor the hardest, just like a regressive tax does.

Business regulations serve to hamper this beneficent market process. Regardless of any other purposes they serve, regulations constrain entrepreneurs from arranging production processes in their best, most efficient pattern.

They necessarily increase costs of production and decrease the quantity of products people have available to satisfy their ends. In short, business regulation results in relative impoverishment.

Such consequences are certainly true in the area of energy industry regulation. It is naive in the extreme to think that we can painlessly solve perceived present and future problems related to the production and use of energy through regulation.

The EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” mandates that by 2030 carbon emissions from the energy industry must be reduced by 30 percent compared to their 2005 levels.

This is to be achieved by four building blocks: increased efficiency by existing fossil fuel power plants, increased energy production using natural gas, increased use of solar and wind sources, and customers using electricity more efficiently.

Alas, given current energy market conditions and level of technology, the Clean Power Plan  will result in significant cost increases to producers. Industry experts estimate that compliance will lead to the forced shut down of 70 percent of coal-fired energy plants.

By their very nature, the mandates will hasten switching from coal-fired plants to natural gas plants and wind sources before it is economically wise to do so.

We dare not forget that a given production process does not become socially beneficial merely because it is technologically possible.

We have the technology, for example, to produce large quantities of water in a laboratory setting, but we do not do so because it makes no economic sense.

The cost of making water in a lab is much greater than obtaining water from natural sources.

Similarly, it is needlessly wasteful to force energy producers to switch from coal-fired plants that are operating at a profit to another less profitable source of generation.

Of course, if it is more profitable, entrepreneurs already have an incentive to be using that process.

Mandating the switch forces electricity producers to consume capital. Imagine the impact on your budget of being forced to buy a new lap top computer every year before your present one wears out or becomes obsolete.

That is the equivalent of what the EPA is requiring of electricity producers. Additionally, such forced transition always imposes costs associated with infrastructure, plant shut-downs, and stranded assets.

That the new EPA constraints on energy production will result in higher energy costs is nowhere near a secret.

Various studies by energy economists estimate the total compliance costs to be from $174 billion to $479 billion. This is more than three times the total cost of the previously most expensive EPA energy industry regulation.

Such increased costs necessarily reduces the supply of coal-fired electricity because producers can generate less output with the same quantity of investment.

Average wholesale electricity costs are anticipated to increase an estimated $25-30 billion per year. Retail electricity prices are estimated to increase from 8 to 17 percent due to the Clean Power Plan.

Such increases would continue a disturbing economic trend. For US households with gross annual incomes less than $50,000 (almost half the households in the nation), total real energy costs have increased 27 percent since 2001.

At same time, real disposable incomes have decreased by 22 percent. The percentage of income spent on energy has increased significantly.

In 2001 these households spent on average 12 percent of their income on energy costs. By 2014 energy expenses increased to 20 percent of disposable income.

Make no mistake, general regulation of the production of common necessities, such as energy, functions like a tax, and a regressive one at that.  Lower income families are the most vulnerable to higher energy costs.

While those households with disposable income above $50,000 a year spent 8 percent of their income on energy last year, those with annual incomes less than $30,000 spent 26 percent of their income on energy.

Higher energy prices due to President Obama’s Clean Power Plan hit the poor the hardest, just like a regressive tax does.

On top of higher energy costs, everything else will become more expensive to produce. Higher energy prices increase costs of production. Energy regulations and their effects direct production contrary to the natural division of labor.

General productivity and output, therefore, will be lower than otherwise. All of us, including the poor, end up paying higher prices for fewer goods. Increased impoverishment is exactly the opposite of what President Obama says he desire to combat.

The President recently participated in a round-table discussion considering how to reduce poverty in the United States.

This surely is a laudable goal. If he is serious in this endeavor, one of the best, most direct and efficacious acts the President can take is to call off the dogs at the EPA.

He should junk the so-called Clean Power Plan and halt its draconian war against the poor.

Shawn Ritenour is an economics professor at Grove City College, Grove City, Pa.

See the article here.

The EPA’s ‘Clean Power’ Mess

Via The Wall Street Journal:

‘Flexibility” is the advertised hallmark of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which by 2030 would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants by 30% from 2005 levels. The central feature of the plan is a forced shift away from inexpensive coal-fired power. Not to worry, says EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy: “With EPA’s flexible proposal, states choose the ways we cut carbon pollution, so we can still have affordable, reliable power to grow our economy.”

Under the plan, the EPA will set a carbon-dioxide-emissions target for every state, and give each state roughly a year to develop and implement a “state plan” to meet it. Of course, the EPA must approve the plan before it can go into effect. How is that flexible? The EPA allows states to choose any combination of four “building blocks” to reach its target—reducing coal, increasing natural-gas, more renewables and nuclear energy, and enhancing energy-efficiency standards.

So if the Clean Power Plan is so flexible, why has the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in a May 15 letter to the EPA, voiced its concerns over the “flexibility” and potential impact on the “reliability” of America’s electricity grid once it is implemented? Signed by FERC Chairman Norman Bay and all four commissioners, the letter recommends a “Reliability Safety Valve,” which is defined as “a process through which the affected entities can petition the EPA for temporary waivers or adjustments to the emissions requirements or compliance timelines in an approved state plan to preserve Bulk-Power System Reliability.”

FERC and those in the industry it regulates seem to realize what the EPA does not: that the agency’s “building blocks” are mutually inconsistent. The recommended 6% efficiency improvement for coal plants is prohibitive in cost because their individual operating characteristics—the types of coal they use, operating pressures, emissions equipment, etc.—are predetermined in their designs and extremely difficult to change. Few if any owners of coal plants will be willing to make that huge investment. Moreover, the recommended increase in the capacity utilization of natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) turbines to 70% from roughly 45% today means reduced output and a smaller market share for coal.

The coal-efficiency path is made even more difficult by the EPA’s recently implemented Mercury and Air Toxic Standards. Compliance with this new rule requires the installation of costly scrubbers and other equipment that reduce operating efficiency.

The increase in the utilization of natural-gas plants also conflicts with the increase in wind and solar power. Because renewables are unreliable, they must be backed up by coal- and gas-fired plants, which must be cycled up and down depending on whether the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. This cycling reduces efficiency for the backup coal and gas plants in much the same way as stop-and-go driving cuts automotive fuel efficiency, and this will make it more difficult for gas plants to achieve higher capacity utilization.

The “energy efficiency” path means a reduction in demand for both coal- and gas-fired power, again inconsistent with investment in improved coal efficiency, and with the envisioned increase in the utilization of gas plants.

No one knows how this demand reduction will affect power consumption at peak periods relative to off-peak ones. This will exacerbate the uncertainties regarding investment in new power plants, which will again increase costs and create significant risks to the reliability of the grid.

The operators of electricity systems have always used the cheapest power first and then more-expensive power as demand increases through a given day. How will costs and reliability change when they are forced to adopt a convoluted system combining operating cost and greenhouse gas considerations? No one knows.

Put aside that neither the Clean Power Plan nor the administration’s larger climate policy would have a measurable effect on temperatures. The reality is that the plan is so inflexible and costly that states heavily dependent on coal power will suffer an artificial competitive disadvantage, and will be forced to join regional cap-and-trade emissions trading systems. Since those states disproportionately are red ones—Mississippi, North Dakota and Texas, for example—the dominant effect will be payments for emissions credits from red states to blue ones.

There are good reasons to doubt that the EPA understands how a modern power system works. Such are the fruits of regulatory zealotry and the haste driven by the prospect that the next administration might place a greater emphasis on economic growth.

Mr. Zycher is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

See the article here.

 

West Virginia Lawmakers Press Governor to Not Submit Plan for EPA Climate Rule

Via Politico:

West Virginia’s House delegation today is calling on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to heed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “just say no” campaign against the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

“As you consider West Virginia’s response we urge you to consider NOT submitting a state implementation plan due to concerns over EPA’s legal justification and the impact the CPP will have on jobs, electricity prices, and reliability,” Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney, and Evan Jenkins wrote. All three are Republicans.

The CPP, EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants, will “undeniably force the state to change the way it produces electricity,” the trio added. The plan is also “detrimental to West Virginia’s coal industry and the jobs that depend on it.”

The letter also cites critical statements by Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe, who is representing coal miner Peabody Energy in fighting the upcoming rule, as well as comments from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Although the GOP lawmakers didn’t mention McConnell by name, they referenced his recent comments that called into question whether states could legally cooperate to reduce emissions without first getting Congress’ approval.

The letter adds: “The EPA is trying to compel states to do more themselves than what the agency would be authorized to do on its own.

See the article here.

UMWA President: Coal’s Largest Union to Sue EPA Over CO2 Emission Rules

Via SNL:

The United Mine Workers of America will join many in the coal industry fighting the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Planand New Source Performance Standards in federal court.

At a June 3 gathering of UMWA workers, President Cecil Roberts noted the union’s long past of fighting for coal miners’ rights — from health care benefits to the end of child labor. While noting the cyclical pressure of natural gas prices and recent weather trends, Roberts said the stress the coal industry finds itself under is unprecedented and certainly influenced by the Obama administration.

While the Clean Power Plan is being challenged as a draft rule on multiple fronts, Roberts said the UMWA intends to sue over the Clean Power Plan once it is finalized.

“Under the Obama administration the UMWA sued EPA over the [Mercury and Air Toxics Standards] rule, and as we stand here today I assure that our lawyers are preparing to sue the agency again once the Clean Power Plan and New Source rule become final,” Roberts said in prepared remarks. “We have not, and we will not stand by while our members’ jobs are under attack from any source, in any administration.”

Roberts noted that the “market has taken a terrible toll” on coal companies and those regulations are “reshapingwhat the market for coal is now and will be in the future.” He said the administration’s new rules aimed at carbon dioxide emissions — the Clean Power Plan for existing generators and the New Source Performance Standards for new power plants — will make it nearly impossible to continue burning coal to generate electricity at existing plants or to build new coal plants without “a sudden and vast leap” in coal-burning technology.

“Our active members are being laid off in numbers we haven’t seen in decades,” Roberts said. “Several major employers of our members either have filed bankruptcy or are on the verge of doing so. This puts the health care benefits for more than 97,000 retirees, dependents and widows at risk. Our pension plan is in critical status, and we are faced with the real possibility that employers will want to withdraw from it if we can’t pass legislation to fix the pension plan’s funding issues by the end of 2016. As we prepare to negotiate a new contract in 2016, we expect to be confronted with employers who want to make wholesale changes to decades of improvements in our collective bargaining agreements, attacking job classifications, seniority protections, health care and other benefits, and more.”

Roberts also noted in his speech that the UMWA would soon be battling Patriot Coal Corp. once again as it anticipates the company asking a bankruptcy court to reject its agreements with the UMWA.

See the article here. 

 

EPA Climate Plan Sent to White House for Review

Via The National Journal: 

The Obama administration has teed up a busy summer on climate change, with the final review of its tentpole climate rule swinging into action.

The Environmental Protection Agency sent its rules on carbon emissions for existing power plants to the White House Office of Management and Budget for a final review, according to awebsite that tracks federal rulemaking. The rule is set to be finalized in August, according to OMB and a schedule of federal rulemakings.

EPA last June proposed cutting carbon-dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent of 2005 levels by 2030, targeting one of the nation’s largest sources of greenhouse-gas emissions. The proposal sets specific targets for each state, allowing them to craft their own plans through measures like energy efficiency, upgrading power plants, and shifting away from coal power.

The regulatory move tees up the final steps in the rulemaking process for the long-awaited rule. Stakeholder groups—including industry representatives, utilities, and environmental groups—will head to OMB to meet with White House aides and take their last stabs at the rule.

It’s unclear what changes EPA will make to the final rule, although officials have said they are incorporating input from all sides. There have been reports, for example, that EPA is considering dropping a requirement that coal plants install technology that would capture carbon dioxide and store it because the technology is not yet viable.

Congressional opponents will also continue their assault on the rule, which they say would essentially kill the coal industry without providing environmental benefits. The House is set to vote the week of June 23 on a bill from Rep. Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican, that would give states the option to opt out of the rule and put it on hold until judicial review is completed. A similar Senate bill is expected to move through the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is also continuing to press state governors to opt out of the rule. Already Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, has said her state won’t comply, and Wisconsin Governor and possible Republican presidential contender Scott Walker has hinted he will follow suit.

States and industry groups are also sure to set up legal challenges to the rule. Already one lawsuit against the rule has gone to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in April, charging that EPA could not regulate carbon pollution from power plants because it was already regulating other emissions. Although no ruling has yet been issued, justices indicatedthat the challenge was premature because the rule was not yet final.

See the article here.

FERC Commissioner Says EPA Carbon Rule May Usurp State Powers

Via E&E Publishing:

PHOENIX — States complying with U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan run the risk of ceding jurisdiction over energy policy decisions to the federal government, according to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Tony Clark.
Clark, a Republican and former North Dakota electric regulator, told state regulators at a meeting of the Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners yesterday that EPA’s draft regulation to cut power-sector carbon emissions could “fundamentally change everything about how utilities are regulated.”

“What EPA is asking states to do, depending on how states choose to write their [state implementation plans], is to give EPA authority over things that it on its own in the Clean Air Act does not have authority to claim jurisdiction over,” Clark said.

The Clean Power Plan set individual state reduction goals based on what EPA thought states could achieve through direct changes to coal-fired power plant operations and with systemwide efforts to cut emissions by using more natural gas, building up renewable energy and cutting back on power demand.
But Clark said states that seek credit for renewable portfolio standards and energy efficiency efforts would be giving EPA authority to regulate those programs.

“To the degree that you put that in a plan and it gets a seal of approval from the EPA, that then becomes a federally enforceable plan. So what happens then is the administrator of EPA is really in charge of state energy policy,” Clark said. “It simply gives Washington so much authority over the decisions that have traditionally been made by state public utility commissions, legislators and governors.”

Clark said he believes states’ responses will fall into three categories as they try to avoid giving EPA that power.
First, California and states in the Northeast will likely rely on cap-and-trade programs to set limits on emissions. Clark said he hasn’t traditionally been a fan of cap and trade, but from a mechanical standpoint, it might be “the least burdensome way for states to comply,” as long as EPA is only enforcing the cap itself.

However, cap and trade is “a political dead leg in a large chunk of the country,” Clark said.

Clark thinks a second group of states will submit plans based only on changes that can be made directly at power plants — which EPA has uncontested authority to regulate. But many states argue they cannot reach their targets with those changes alone, especially without jeopardizing electric reliability or significantly raising costs to consumers.
Last, Clark said a number of states will refuse to send EPA plans and “just say no” until the last lawsuits have been settled in front of the Supreme Court years from now.

Because those states will not be preparing proposals at all, regional carbon-cutting solutions that could be beneficial and keep costs down will be difficult to get off the ground, he noted.

‘Rubber-stamping costs’?

Even in states that are hostile to the rule, Clark says it’s critical for electric regulators to be talking closely with state energy offices, legislators, governors and environmental regulators responsible for writing plans.

“They absolutely have to be talking with those folks, because if they don’t, they could end up in a very, very bad spot where you could have the state environmental regulator committing to certain things that are within the jurisdiction of the [public utility commission] and all of a sudden, the state environmental regulator’s writing checks they can’t cash,”

Clark said. “At that point, you’re just rubber-stamping costs. … You don’t want to be in that position as a utility commissioner; you want to be in a position of actually helping to shape the energy policy of those states.”
In states that have already announced they won’t comply, though, regulators are in a “holding pattern,” he said.
Clark also offered further insight into FERC’s recent advice to EPA on how to avoid risking power outages under the Clean Power Plan (Greenwire, May 18).

“The Clean Power Plan puts FERC in a very interesting and unique position in that it’s not our rule; it’s EPA’s rule … and yet … almost all of the potential negative outcomes that could come out of a poorly structured Clean Power Plan are all squarely within our wheelhouse, both at the FERC level and at the local level at public utility commissions,” Clark said. “Whether we want to be involved in that fight or not, the fight is coming to us and we need to be engaged.”
Clark said that in regional technical conferences on the rule, FERC identified three concerns: that the rule didn’t allow enough time for power-sector changes to begin, that someone would need to review proposals to make sure they mesh together, and that there should be a reliability “safety valve” to provide real-time relief from state plans in emergency situations.

FERC’s letter did not explicitly call for a review of individual plans, what many have come to call a “reliability assurance mechanism.”

But Clark said FERC and the North American Electric Reliability Corp. would want to conduct modeling to see how state plans fit together to affect reliability without making a “qualitative judgment.”

“We’re not going to be going into the middle of individual state implementation plans and saying, ‘Oh, your energy efficiency product that you’ve worked out with your utility is garbage; you need to change it,'” he said. “Where we have a potential to be helpful is in modeling the reliability of the wider power system.”

See the article here. [subscription required]

Walker: EPA Carbon Rule ‘Unworkable’ for Wisconsin

Via The Hill:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) told President Obama that his landmark carbon rule for power plants is “unworkable” for the Badger State.

Walker, who is expected to announce a run for president next month, stopped short of saying that Wisconsin would not comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) climate change regulation.

But in a letter to Obama dated May 21, he expressed “deep concerns regarding our ability to develop a state plan to comply with the proposal,” and said it is “riddled with inaccuracies, questionable assumptions and deficiencies that make the development of a responsible state plan unworkable.”

Walker has long been critical of the EPA’s rule, proposed in June 2014 with a goal of slashing the power sector’s carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030. The EPA plans to make the rule final in August, and then states will have a year to submit their compliance plans before the feds implement their own.

Walker’s letter is one of the sharpest criticisms of the plan yet from a governor, although leaders from more than 30 states have said they oppose the rule.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) ordered state agencies in April to ignore the rule and not comply with it, making Oklahoma the only state to clearly declare its intent to disregard the regulation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a top opponent of the proposed rule, has activelylobbied state governors to ignore it.

“Think twice before submitting a state plan — which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits — when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won’t be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism,” he wrote in March.

Walker has said very little about his stance on humanity’s role in climate change, but environmentalists have accused him of prohibiting the state’s Board of Commissioners of Public Lands from doing any work related to climate.

He’s also signed a pledge never to support a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, organized by Charles and David Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity.

Walker wrote letters to the Obama administration in August and December of 2014 saying the rule would cost Wisconsin $3.3 billion to $13.4 billion, due largely to shutting down coal-fired power plants, a figure that he repeated in the most recent letter.

Apart from the cost considerations and technical problems, Walker said, he is concerned that the EPA cannot legally enforce its rule under the Clean Air Act.

“Absent significant and meaningful changes in the final rule, it is difficult to envision how Wisconsin can responsibly construct a state plan that can comply with the requirements of the Clean Power Plan without ignoring our responsibility to ensure safe, affordable and reliable electricity for the people of Wisconsin,” he wrote.

Ellen Nowak, chairwoman of Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission and a Walker appointee, testified at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in March, saying, “we question the very foundation of this proposal.”

She also refused to say whether she believes that greenhouse gases from human activity are contributing to climate change.

Wisconsin is also among numerous Republican-led states suing the EPA to have the rule overturned, a lawsuit that is unlikely to be successful.

In response to the letter, EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia fought back, saying the agency is working closely with states on the regulation.

“EPA’s Clean Power Plan is built on a time-tested state-federal partnership in the Clean Air Act for EPA to establish public health goals while providing states important flexibility to design plans to meet their individual and unique needs,” she said in a statement.

The final rule coming out in August will take into account the “unprecedented” input on the rule, including 4.3 million comments received, Purchia said.

See the article here. 

In Depth: EPA Forcing Policy in Regulatory Guise

Via TribLive:

Pennsylvania’s utilities, coal companies, their employees and ratepayers are bracing for the publication of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule on greenhouse-gas emissions set for this summer.

On behalf of my 120 employees and their families, I am hopeful that the EPA will consider the 1.6 million comments submitted during the open comment period, including those of opposition from Pennsylvania’s lawmakers and its Public Utility Commission and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The DEP forecasts the rule will cut coal consumption by Pennsylvania’s electric utilities by about 70 percent. This reduction will impact the 36,000 jobs statewide that coal supports, the more than $4 billion it provides to Pennsylvania’s economy annually and the baseload electricity necessary to keep rates low and attract businesses and manufacturing to the commonwealth.

I applaud Congressman Mike Kelly, R-Butler, for considering these impacts on his constituents by co-sponsoring the Ratepayer Protection Act of 2015 introduced last month by Congressman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky. This act would allow governors to reject the EPA’s Clean Power Plan if they determine that it will adversely affect their states’ price of electricity or electric reliability — which it will.

While the EPA promises there will be enough electricity to maintain demand, the actual grid operators and utilities have publicly opposed these rules, stating there is not enough time to develop sufficient resources and the plan will result in double-digit rate increases.

The cost of replacing this lost capacity will be passed on to the consumer. There are 2.4 million middle- to low-income families in Pennsylvania that spend almost 20 percent of their after-tax income on energy. This is not a Republican or Democrat, industry or environment issue. This will affect every ratepayer and business owner in the commonwealth.

The EPA is facing lawsuits and opposition from governors, attorneys general, public utility commissions and departments of environmental quality in 22 states. To date, this is the foremost demonstration of federal overreach, with a forced state energy policy disguised as environmental regulation. It has brought together bipartisan opposition at every level.

The unfortunate reality is that even if these commonsense measures were to succeed in overturning the EPA’s rule, the uncertainty created by the Obama administration has stalled investments in research and development for carbon technology.

The global coal market is growing and the U.S. is unique in that it has the capability to develop coal responsibly. We are the only nation that has reduced its carbon emissions in the last decade.

Is it my hope that these rules are abolished and faith and investments are restored in this industry so that our nation can capitalize on the opportunity to build our economy with coal as the foundation to become a global energy producer, exporter and leader.

John Stilley

The writer is CEO and president of Amerikohl Mining headquartered in Butler.

See the article here.