Monthly Archives: October 2015

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

The EPA Deserves a Stay

Via The Wall Street Journal:

President Obama’s palace revolution on climate won’t come off peaceably after all, as 26 states and dozens of business groups this week filed suits against his takeover of the carbon economy. For all Mr. Obama’s eco-abuses, the legal reckoning now at hand is the most important.

On Aug. 3 the Environmental Protection Agency finalized the so-called Clean Power Plan, or CPP, which orders states to reorganize their energy systems from power plants to electric outlets. But the EPA waited no fewer than 81 days until Oct. 23 to publish the rule in the Federal Register, a delay that matters in administrative law because publication formally opens the plan to judicial review. The average lag for the EPA this year on all other major rules is 27 days.

The EPA is stalling for time because the Obama crowd knows that states must rush to start the slow, capital-intensive and irrevocable transition away from fossil fuels over the next year or so to meet their 2020 “interim” targets. Even if the CPP is repealed by the next Administration, or junked by the courts, they’re hoping to intimidate the states and dictate the U.S. energy mix for a generation.

So the 26 Attorneys General and business lobbies are asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay that would enjoin the CPP while the judiciary considers the legal merits. This would be unusual. Conventional regulatory litigation spools out over the years, with judges tending to defer to rule-makers.

But the EPA has invited more scrutiny by deliberately exploiting this deference. Its thinking is that if the energy reality on the ground shifts while the courts move at the snail’s pace, then losses are irrelevant. For instance, the Supreme Court overturned a mercury-emissions regulation earlier this year, albeit when it was too late. When the EPA published the rule in 2011, the low-ball prediction was that coal use would fall by less than 1%. Instead it plunged by 12% in 2012 alone and continued to drop.

Thus EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy could brag on Bill Maher’s show that however the Court ruled, “Most of [the utilities] are already in compliance, investments have been made, and we’ll catch up. We’re still going to get at the toxic pollution from these facilities.” So much for the rule of law.

The Clean Power plaintiffs can demonstrate immediate and permanent injury. The EPA’s own models show utilities will shed 233 coal-fired power plants in 2016 alone, or 20% of the grid’s remaining coal generation. Some marginal generators like rural electric nonprofit cooperatives may go under.

The plaintiffs are also likely to prevail on the legal merits, both statutory and constitutional. The 2,000-page CPP is conjured from a couple hundred words in a subsection of a 38-year-old statute about “best systems of emissions reduction.” Traditionally this has meant technology that can be installed on a given site, like scrubbers.

Now the EPA is rewriting the definition to direct states to regulate “outside the fence line” of power plants well beyond the best tech. They must not only decommission sources of carbon energy, but they must also run the green gamut from mandating a new fleet of wind and solar, building new transmission lines, creating more efficiency subsidy programs for consumers and much else. On a rewrite so grandiose, the EPA has earned a stay and deserves no administrative deference.

Such a claim of authority with no limiting principle will naturally expand over time. Under the pretext of regulating power plants, can the EPA instruct states to adopt green-city building codes that curtail the use of CO2-heavy cement? How about an organic fertilizer mandate for agriculture, or controls on “enteric fermentation”—er, flatulence—in cattle and other livestock? The EPA has entertained all of these possibilities in draft documents, and no sphere of public or private life will be spared.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt best limns the larger constitutional stakes. He grounds his argument in the Supreme Court’s anti-coercion doctrine, which teaches that the feds cannot commandeer sovereign state resources. The EPA says state agencies must rewrite their laws and programs to carry out orders from Washington headquarters, or else it will impose a more draconian federal plan. The Supreme Court reversed ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion mandate because it denied states “a legitimate choice whether to accept the federal conditions.” One irony is that even if EPA weren’t rewriting black-letter law to bullrush the CPP, the rewrite itself would be unconstitutional.

The CPP will undermine growth, consumer incomes and U.S. competitiveness in ways that will be difficult for the next President to reverse, if he or she is so inclined. Perhaps this time the courts will give the EPA’s willfulness more than the customary wink and nod.

See the article here.

Make No Mistake: The Age of Coal Marches On

Via Real Clear Energy:

In the wake of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final carbon rule, aka the so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP), there is much ado about where we will get our future energy and what happens to coal. Besides significantly raising energy prices for hard working Americans, the carbon rule will have virtually no impact on the global reality that coal will soon surpass oil in the amount of energy produced. Nor will the rule effectively reduce carbon emissions.

Technology, not political rhetoric, is the path to reliable, affordable energy and a cleaner environment. Clean coal technology works and is paving the way for expanded use of the world’s most important energy source. Consider these stunning statistics:

• Coal is the world’s most rapidly growing major fuel of the decade, with absolute use increasing faster than any other source of energy. From 2011-2020, coal will generate over 100,000 terawatt hours of power – more electricity than natural gas produced in 50 years, more than nuclear has ever produced, and equal to the power output of 1,200 Three Gorges Dams.

• Coal produced 37% of the world’s power in 1990, produces 40% today and, based on the Current Policy scenario of the International Energy Agency (IEA), will still produce 40% in 2040. There is no substitute for coal.

• To replace the world’s coal power plants would require the equivalent of about 5,000 Hoover Dams or a new nuclear power plant every four days for the next 25 years, or more than five million wind turbines – enough to stretch one million miles – to the moon and back…twice.

Over 200,000 people are added to the world’s population every day. The burgeoning global demand for electricity translates into the need for additional generating capacity. The IEA projects about half of this new worldwide capacity will be coal, and at least 1,200 coal plants have been proposed or are under construction outside the United States.

A rising tide of advanced coal power plants will be the foundation of the world’s effort to meet climate policy goals amid the growing need for power. High efficiency supercritical coal generation utilizes less fuel and produces more power with reduced emissions. These advanced plants emit up to 25% less carbon dioxide (CO2) than the average currently installed coal plant. Longer term, bringing technologies such as carbon capture to commercial scale will put the world on the ultimate path to near-zero emissions from coal.

Ironically, coal is the only way we can meet escalating global power demand as well as reliably and affordably meet the environmental goals trumpeted by those opposed to its use. Yet, rather than grasping the opportunity that clean coal technology presents, the Obama Administration and the EPA continue policies that will make energy more expensive, cost jobs and do virtually nothing to improve the environment. Myopic EPA rules, such as the carbon plan, would cost Americans dearly by forcing utilities away from America’s greatest energy resource and toward not only volatile natural gas prices but also expensive, remote and unreliable wind and solar generation.

While the U.S. shoots itself in the foot, the rest of the world engages in what a recent National Academy of Sciences study calls a “Coal Renaissance.” As a new wave of clean coal technology builds across the world, we fall further behind, and lose our competitive advantage of affordable energy — and all for virtually nothing. The EPA’s rule would reduce global temperatures by one-hundredth of one degree Fahrenheit.

Instead of the politically convenient carbon rule to advance an ideological agenda, the world, including America, would be far better served by the U.S. re-asserting its leadership role in clean coal. China will soon have almost 400 gigawatts of advanced coal generating capacity. The U.S. has only 94.

In a typical “Catch 22,”reducing carbon at scale requires carbon capture technology, but there is no substantial U.S. government support to implement the program or bring the technology to commercial level. It was left to Canada to develop the Boundary Project–the world’s first commercial coal power plant with carbon capture. It is no surprise that Boundary officials report Chinese delegations visit the facility “every two or three weeks.”

Even beyond electricity, coal is used throughout the world in a variety of processes ranging from the production of steel to chemicals to liquid fuel to cement. In terms of steel, for instance, coal is used to produce about 70% of the 125 million tons manufactured at the global level every single month. Steel and cement– the building blocks of industrialization, modernization and urbanization – depend on coal.

Over the years 2000-2010, global coal consumption increased almost 2,300 million metric tons or 50%. During the current decade, coal use will expand at least another 25% or about 1,700 million metric tons. In other words, in the first 20 years of the 21st Century, the demand for coal will have expanded a total of over four billion metric tons.

The age of coal marches on.

 Frank Clemente PhD., is Professor Emeritus of Social Science, Penn State University, Professor Clemente is former Director of the University’s Environmental Policy Center and editor of the International Energy Agency report The Global Value of Coal (2012).
See the article here.

EPA’s Clean Power Plan Oversteps Federal Authority

Via The Floyd County Times:

The quest for cleaner energy is one of the great challenges of the 21st Century, and has fueled many “green” initiatives in recent years. But something troubling is coming down the pike now that the Obama Administration has announced its new “Clean Power Plan” (CPP). In a full-speed-ahead quest to lower carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power plants, the administration is implementing new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that raise troubling legal issues.

For starters, the EPA, which has never previously demonstrated any expertise in regulating America’s vast power grid, will begin to shut down coal plants under a vague authority derived from the Clean Air Act. Essentially, coal, the most affordable and abundant fuel used togenerate electricity in the U.S. — and which currently generates about 40 percent of the nation’s power supply – will be phased out in favor of higher priced and less reliable wind and solar.

The problem, as legal experts are now pointing out, is that the EPA plan oversteps federal authority. Harvard University Constitutional Law Professor Laurence Tribe, who is generally a supporter of the president’s agenda, told Congress earlier this year that that the plan exceeds the EPA’s authority under federal law. According to Professor Tribe, the CPP makes states unacceptably subservient to Washington on energy and environmental matters because it “invades state regulatory control in an unprecedented manner” that “raises grave constitutional questions that the Act must be construed to avoid.”

How exactly is the EPA overreaching its authority? As Professor Tribe explains, the EPA will force states to adopt policies that will raise energy costs, a blunt approach that runs counter to the mandates of many state energy commissions. The EPA rules are deceptive, too, in that they claim to provide states with a “choice” in devising newenergy approaches. As Professor Tribe notes, there is little real choice when state policies are in fact compelled by the EPA: “Such sleight-of-hand offends democratic principles by avoiding political transparency and accountability.”

The EPA doesn’t recognize this conflict of interest, unfortunately. As EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said recently, “We’re particularly interested in making sure states and utilities can achieve emissions reductions along a flexible glide path so that they can meet their targets.”

Far from being flexible, the CPP simply seizes the authority long held by states to regulate their power systems. And what’s being imposed is disturbing because it could lead to heavy-handed plant closures in states that currently rely on coal for everyday living.

Not only are wind and solar intermittent sources of energy — the wind doesn’t always blow, the sun doesn’t always shine—but the coal plants on the chopping block have continually proven their durability and reliability in supplying robust electricity. As the EPA shuts down these high-performing coal plants, the reliability and affordability of electricity in many states will become victims to a misguided, one-size-fits-all agenda. Consumers will thus pay higher electric bills while facing potential blackouts during peak usage.

Which brings us to the pushback emerging from states as they realize their authority to structure internal energy supply is being usurped by Washington. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has issued an executive order directing that her state will not comply with “such a clear overreach of federal authority.” Indiana Governor Mike Pence has made the same declaration regarding a policy he believes “will drive up electricity prices without any discernible impact onglobal carbon dioxide emissions.”

All in all, more than 20 states are preparing to join a lawsuit against the EPA’s overreach. Historically, states have established their own energy policies to ensure adequate and reliable service at reasonable prices. But the EPA’s vast federal bureaucracy faces no such mandate. Instead, it seeks to impose a heavy-handed “solution” that will likely dismantle decades of carefully managed, localized energy regulation. This poses a troubling and expensive problem for working class America, and state governors should reject such unwise federal mismanagement.

Terry M. Jarrett is an attorney with Healy Law Offices, LLC in Jefferson City, Missouri, and a former Commissioner of the Missouri Public Service Commission.

See the article here.

Higher Job Losses Due To Overreaching Regulation

New Federal Stream Protection Rule Will Cost Jobs and Coal Communities Nationwide, Warns National Mining Association

WASHINGTON D.C. – A new Obama administration regulation—the so-called Stream Protection Rule—is about to drive up energy costs and unemployment with no gain in environmental benefits, cautions the National Mining Association.

“The primary motive of this regulation is not to protect streams, as its title would suggest, but to protect federal regulators’ jobs at the expense of coal miners’ jobs as the nation’s energy providers,” said Luke Popovich, vice president of communications for the National Mining Association.

In a classic example of needless regulation, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, or OSM, plans to change more than 475 regulations, as well as add more new rules – despite no demonstrated need. OSM has crafted the rule behind closed doors, Popovich said, shutting cooperating states out of discussions about the purpose and content of the regulation.

The new rule carries a heavy economic price tag, Popovich warned. He pointed to an analysis by an independent consultant that found that OSM’s rule would put more than 268,000 mining and dependent jobs at risk—adding to the 40,000 high-wage jobs already lost in the industry.

According to this independent study, that loss also means less money for communities—in this case, at least $5 billion less in federal and state revenues. The rule also would jeopardize access to as much as 63 percent of the nation’s recoverable coal reserves, leaving affordable energy untapped, and increasing electricity costs for families.

“In 2011, President Obama issued an executive order laying out the ground rules for improving federal regulation and review,” Popovich said. “OSM has ignored all of those guidelines by moving ahead without an open exchange of ideas, without considering economic impacts, and without offering a scientific rationale for why the new regulations are necessary. In response, most state agencies have terminated their role in this rulemaking.”

“Ironically, OSM’s own reviews show that mining-companies are overwhelmingly in compliance with current standards.” Popovich said. “In fact, the agency admitted it had already decided to issue this rule five years before it conducted the study to determine the need for it.”

President Obama called for responsible regulation.

Are any of his regulators listening?

For more information, please visit www.nma.org

See the release here.

Clean Power Plan: Legal Challenge From States a Necessity

Via The Bluefield Daily Telegraph:

We are pleased to see that West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is once again leading a coalition of 23 states in a lawsuit seeking to strike down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s crippling Clean Power Plan.

In the petition for review and stay motions, which were filed Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the 23 states correctly argue that the EPA rule is illegal and will have devastating impacts upon the states and their citizens. We’ve already seen great harm done right here in West Virginia and neighboring Southwest Virginia. There is a reason why West Virginia has the nation’s highest number of citizens collecting unemployment benefits.

The states challenging the rule include West Virginia, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Arizona Corporations Commission, and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. Noticeably absent from the list once again is the state of Virginia, where the administration of Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has refused to challenge these crippling federal regulations targeting coal. But thankfully Morrisey is continuing this urgent fight.

“The Clean Power Plan is one of the most far-reaching energy regulations in this nation’s history,” Morrisey said last week. “West Virginia is proud to be leading the charge against this administration’s blatant and unprecedented attack on coal.”

The new EPA rule forces states to develop plans to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 32 percent by 2030. The Obama administration’s led EPA claims this goal can be accomplished by reducing or eliminating coal-based energy generation. Or, in more simpler terms, more coal mines and coal-fired power plants will be closed, and more coal miners and related workers will become unemployed.

Morrisey argues that the Section 111(d) rule exceeds the EPA’s authority by unlawfully forcing states to fundamentally alter state resource-planning and energy policy by shifting from coal-fired generation to other sources of power generation, with a significant emphasis on renewable sources. Morrisey says the rule is also illegal because it seeks to require states to regulate coal-fired power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, even though EPA already regulates those same plants under Section 112 of the act.

We believe that it is critical for the states to continue the fight against this crippling new rule in the courts. Lawmakers — both Republicans and Democrats — on the local, state and federal level must do everything within their power to stop these crippling regulations that are causing such great harm to our region.

See the article here.

NMA’s Quinn Slams OSM’s “Rule in Search of a Purpose”

National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn today told a Senate oversight hearing that the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement’s (OSM) so-called Stream Protection Rule is more about protecting the jobs of regulators than protecting the environment:

“The SPR is a massive rule in search of a purpose. OSM’s own reports show mining’s offsite impacts are insignificant. While OSM’s explanations have continually changed to justify this regulation, no explanation has ever been given for why states have been ignored in its development. Still, OSM persists in a rulemaking that has potentially devastating consequences for jobs throughout the energy supply chain as well as for the communities that must do without them and the revenue they generate.

“A technical analysis of the impact of this rule on actual mines shows that up to 78,000 coal mining jobs could be lost – added to the 40,000 already lost just in the past three years. When coal-supported jobs in manufacturing, power plants and freight rail are included, the SPR’s toll on employment rises to between 113,000 and 280,000, as one half or more of total U.S. coal reserves are potentially placed off limits to mining.

“In re-writing 475 existing rules and adding new ones, OSM attempts to hijack, and interfere with, the missions of other agencies under state and federal laws. OSM shows again it does not understand these other programs, how they work or apply to mining.

“This rule is not about protecting streams, it’s all about protecting OSM’s jobs at the expense of the jobs of our nation’s energy providers – America’s coal miners.”

See the release here.

Stream Rule Could Cost More than 200K Jobs — Report

Via E&E Publishing:

The Interior Department’s proposed rule to protect waterways from coal mining could end up costing the U.S. economy more than 200,000 jobs, said a report prepared for the National Mining Association (NMA).

The document, prepared by consultant Ramboll Environ Inc., directly contradicts the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s own peer-reviewed economic analysis for the so-called stream protection rule.

The industry-backed study comes as OSMRE closes the comment period on the proposal, and before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds its first hearing in years on the controversial rulemaking tomorrow.

Ramboll Environ says the rule would jeopardize between 112,757 and 280,809 mining and closely related jobs, potentially killing more than 70 percent of current levels. The rule would affect both surface and underground mining, the report says.

Mining companies would be unable to mine significant amounts of coal reserves, said the document, costing governments between $3.1 billion and $6.4 billion in tax revenues.

“With this massive re-write of 475 existing rules and the addition of many new ones, the [stream protection rule] is a text book example of how an agency — oblivious to the costs and the absence of any necessity for its rule making — abuses its authority for the sole purpose of expanding its budget and mission at public expense,” NMA CEO Hal Quinn said in a statement.

Ramboll Environ evaluated 36 current and surface mining operations around the country for its report. Mine managers reported on the rule’s potential impacts, not assuming worst-case scenarios, said the 82-page document.

“For several of these operations, the proposed rule implies closing operations due to restrictions in access, increased costs and uncertainty regarding the interpretation of imprecise regulatory language,” said the report.

Beyond mining companies, states are also calling on OSMRE to scrap the rulemaking. The Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC) wants the agency to start over and pay more attention to local regulator concerns.

“Looking at this rulemaking as a whole, IMCC member states see it as a squandered opportunity for OSMRE,” the IMCC said in its comments.

The IMCC, a union of mining states, says OSMRE failed to account for the rule’s impact on state regulatory agencies. The group says it will strain already-stretched resources.

“Time and again throughout the Proposed Rule,” said IMCC, “OSMRE demonstrates its lack of understanding how states have handled the various permitting requirements and performance standards that this expansive rule addresses.”

The stream protection rule’s potential impacts have for years been fodder for debate, particularly after documents leaked in 2011 suggesting an early version of the proposal could cost several thousand mining jobs.

‘Relatively minor’

When releasing the proposal in July, after years of development, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell described it as a balance between protecting the environment and the economy. She said its job impacts would be “relatively minor,” potentially resulting in the loss of “a couple of hundred jobs.”

Janice Schneider, Interior’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management, set to testify during the Senate hearing tomorrow, said the rules included “common-sense, straightforward reforms” to “keep pace with changing technology and modern mining practices.”

OSMRE’s regulatory impact analysis said the proposal could eliminate an average of 260 jobs a year over the next two decades and cost $50 million a year, plus hit state severance tax receipts. The rule could also create roughly 250 jobs a year in implementation activities.

The idea behind the rulemaking, says OSMRE, is to better implement the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. But the proposal would also have an impact on underground mining when it affects resources above.

Longwall underground mining has long been a target of environmentalists because the more efficient extraction practice can also lead to immediate ground subsidence and stream impacts.

Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp., said the rule’s effects on underground mining were fatal to his business. He recently sued OSMRE for more documents on the rulemaking.

OSMRE Director Joseph Pizarchik said during a conference call in July that the stream protection rule would only have a “minimal” impact on longwall mining.

‘Jettison’ buffer zone?

Environmental advocates are defending OSMRE’s proposal but also calling for stronger protections. They say OSMRE should have strengthened a hard buffer between mining activities and waterways.

The Kentucky chapter of the Sierra Club wrote in a comment letter last month: “While we are extremely disappointed that OSM is proposing to jettison the stream buffer zone and thus allow continued dumping of mining waste into streams, we are pleased that OSM is finally taking steps to update its regulations and we are especially pleased to see OSM’s proposal to increase the requirements for baseline data collection and monitoring of pollution from mining operations.”

Thom Kay, legislative associate for the group Appalachian Voices, which has long been calling for a stronger buffer, used the issue to rebut the NMA-backed study.

“The strangest part of the NMA study is how it pretends to interpret the language of the draft SPR. In reality, the 100-foot stream buffer zone has been all but eliminated. And yet the NMA expects people to believe that this rule would forbid mining activity in or near streams,” he said.

He added, “That’s not how we interpret it, that’s not how OSMRE interprets it, and it’s certainly not how state regulators in places like West Virginia and Kentucky are going to interpret it.”

The proposal says it would reduce the length of waterways affected by mountaintop-removal coal mining, but not eliminate the practice altogether.

Pizarchik said current law allowed the burying of streams under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, overseen by U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Pizarchik defended the new buffer proposal, saying it would conform to an area’s hydrology. He said the buffer could be smaller or wider than current standards, which date back to the early 1980s.

Last year, a federal judge scrapped a stream rule promulgated under President George W. Bush in litigation by environmental groups. OSMRE did not fight to keep the previous administration’s rule in place.

See the article here.

America vs. The EPA: Fighting ‘A Massive Executive Power Grab’

Via The Daily Caller: 

The Environmental Protection Agency finally published a regulation that will be the backbone of President Barack Obama’s plan to fight global warming: a sweeping rule called the Clean Power Plan.

Attorneys general from 26 states and numerous business groups, however, aren’t going to stand idly by while EPA regulations threaten the closure of hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country. A deluge of legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan (CPP) have been filed, alleging the rule violates the Clean Air Act.

On the political side, a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers are pushing legislation to derail the CPP and force the EPA to go back to the drawing board on how it will regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

States and industries representing tens of millions of Americans are rising up the stop Obama’s global warming agenda. It’s a legal effort that rivals the fight against the Affordable Care Act, and one that will likely find its way to the Supreme Court.

EPA Publishes Its Rule To End Coal Power

A slew of lawsuits almost immediately smacked the EPA Friday when it published its final version of the CPP in the Federal Register.

First a coalition of 24 states, led by the attorneys general of West Virginia and Texas, filed suit against the EPA, alleging the CPP violated the Clean Air Act because the agency was now regulating power plants under two sections of the law — which it can’t do.

Oklahoma and North Dakota quickly joined those 24 when they filed suit, also arguing the EPA’s rule re-regulated power plants under the Clean Air Act.

“It’s an attempt by the administration to transfer decision-making on the fuels used to generate power from state policy makers to bureaucrats at the EPA,” Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a Republican, said in a statement.

States suing the EPA also said the CPP would cause electricity prices to spike as coal plants around the country that can’t comply with the rule are shut down and replaced with more expensive natural gas plants or green energy power sources.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), for example, found “energy costs for customers may increase by up to 16% by 2030 due to the CPP alone.”

Energy industry-backed studies claim the CPP could cost Americans between $37 billion a year and $58 billion per year.

“The results will be financially harmful for states, and consumers ultimately will pay the price through much-higher utility rates and a less reliable power supply,” Pruitt said.

But not all states are against the CPP. A coalition of 15 states, led by New York’s attorney general, plan on intervening in any lawsuit filed against the CPP. These states will also be joined by Washington, D.C., and New York City — both of which have spent lots of tax dollars on green energy.

It’s not just states suing the EPA, however, as they’ve been joined by a coalition of 16 business groups representing a wide range of industries, from paper products to refiners to coal producers. The suit, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is also asking federal courts to block the rule from implementation while it’s being challenged.

“Not only are these regulations bad for our economy, they also represent a massive executive power grab,” Tom Donohue, the Chamber’s president, said in a statement. “EPA completely bypassed the legislative branch, basing its 2,000-page rule on roughly 300 words in the Clean Air Act and including a host of policies that have already been considered and rejected by Congress.”

The CPP has already withstood two legal challenges in federal court this year. The EPA came away from both cases unscathed because judges ruled the CPP needed to be published in the Federal Register before it could be challenged.

EPA and environmentalists maintain the rule can withstand any legal challenge thrown at it because of the “flexibility” the rule gives to states to cut carbon dioxide emissions. EPA is also handing out incentives to states that move quickly to cut emissions the agency blames for causing global warming.

“We are confident we will again prevail against these challenges and will be able to work with states to successfully implement these first-ever national standards to limit carbon pollution the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Friday.

Congress Isn’t Happy

Federal lawmakers have also been busy this past week pushing legislation to derail the CPP.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, promised to file a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) this coming week to challenge the CPP.

Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, and Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, will file a separate CRA resolution to challenge the EPA’s rule.

“I have vowed to do all I can to fight back against this Administration on behalf of the thousands of Kentucky coal miners and their families, and this CRA is another tool in that battle,” McConnell said Friday. “The CRAs that we will file will allow Congress the ability to fight these anti-coal regulations.”

The CRA allows Congress to overturn a regulation imposed by a federal agency after it’s been published in the Federal Register. A CRA resolution only needs 51 votes to pass the Senate, meaning Democrats wouldn’t be able to filibuster the bill, but any legislative effort to kill the CPP is likely to meet an Obama veto.

Congress can override, but that would require 67 votes in the Senate. CPP critics are unlikely to persuade the necessary 11 Democrats to join their cause.

On the House side, Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield will file a CRA resolution against the CPP which is likely to pass, but Whitfield may not be able to convince as many as 43 Democrats to override an Obama veto.

Is This The End Of Coal?

The CPP aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent by 2030 as part of Obama’s Climate Action Plan. In anticipation, the EPA is forcing states to submit plans on how they’ll cut CO2 and ramp up green energy production.

The Obama administration hopes the CPP and other rules will convince the world the U.S. is serious about tackling global warming and encouraging other major economies, like China and India, to cut their emissions.

Aside from trying to appease other countries, the EPA claims the CPP will yield $26 billion to $45 billion in net health and climate benefits from fewer power plants. EPA also claims that shuttering power plants will reduce traditional air pollutants and avoid “3,600 premature deaths … 1,700 heart attacks” and “90,000 asthma attacks” every year.

In contrast to energy industry studies, EPA says its rule will only cost about $8 billion a year and actually cause electricity prices to fall after 2030 due to energy efficiency programs.

At the same time, EPA admits the CPP will raise electricity prices 5 percent by 2030 and cause coal production to collapse by 25 percent. EPA also projects  as many as 34,000 jobs could be lost by 2030 as the coal industry contacts.

But other studies show EPA could be vastly underestimating the CPP’s costs. A study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration — an arm of the Energy Department — found the CPP will increase electricity prices 3 percent to 7 percent by 2025 from increased natural gas prices.

On a regional level, however, electricity prices increases could be more severe. EIA noted in “Florida and the Southeast, the Southern Plains, and the Southwest regions the projected electricity prices in 2030 are roughly 10% above baseline.”

EIA also found that coal production will collapse 30 percent in the next decade as 90 gigawatts of coal-fired power capacity is shuttered due to the CPP and other EPA rules.

But even EIA’s estimates may underestimate the impacts on Americans. A National Black Chamber of Commerce study published in June claims the CPP will “increase Hispanic poverty by more than 26% and Black poverty by more than 23%” as energy prices increase.

The NBCC study found Americans will pay $565 billion more for energy every year by 2030 than in 2012 because of the CPP — that’s a 121 percent increase in power prices. The study also found the CPP will “[r]equire the average family to pay over $1,225 more for power and gas in 2030 than they did in 2012.”

See the article here.

New Study Discredits OSM’s New Mining Regulation in Advance of Senate Oversight Hearing

Washington, D.C. – A new study by an environmental consulting firm documents steep costs and job losses from a new regulation from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement (OSM), adding further credence to widespread criticisms of this unnecessary rule.

The so-called Stream Protection Rule (SPR), the subject of Senate oversight hearings Tuesday, will eliminate the jobs of between 40,000 and 78,000 coal miners in an industry that has already lost more than 40,000 jobs since 2011, many from administration regulations. When including employment in coal-dependent industries, Ramboll Environ found the jobless toll from OSM’s rule could rise as high as 281,000.

OSM’s insistence that job losses would be minimal is derived from its evaluation of hypothetical “model mines.” Ramboll Environ’s job loss projections are derived from data gathered at 36 actual operating mines, surface as well as underground.

The resulting massive job loss projection stems from the rule’s devastating impact on the coal resource. The firm’s analysis, commissioned by the National Mining Association (NMA), concludes that between one-fourth to two-thirds of total U.S. recoverable coal reserves would be uneconomic under OSM’s rule owing to comprehensive constraints placed on both surface and underground mining operations. This volume of coal removed from mining operations, valued at between $14 billion and $29 billion, would eliminate potential tax revenue to federal and local communities of between $3.1 billion and $6.4 billion each year.

Despite these destructive economic impacts nationwide, the SPR would nevertheless accomplish no environmental purpose. OSM’s own data (see chart) shows that in states accounting for almost 75 percent of the nation’s coal production, between 95 and 100 percent of coal operations have no off-site impacts. Not surprisingly, OSM offers no scientific justification for this rule, nor an explanation for why it decided on this rulemaking long before it determined the need for it.[(W)e already decided to change the rule following change of Administrations on January 20, 2009.”*]

“With this massive re-write of 475 existing rules and the addition of many new ones, the SPR is a text book example of how an agency – oblivious to the costs and the absence of any necessity for its rulemaking – abuses its authority for the sole purpose of expanding its budget and mission at public expense,” said NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn.

*75 Fed. Reg. 34,667

See the release here.

Does Obama Realize Negative Impact of His Policies?

Via The Logan Banner:

Thank you, President Obama, for coming to West Virginia to discuss the rampant drug problem faced by our state, our region and, indeed, our nation.

Perhaps no place has been more affected by the scourge of drugs — both prescription and illegal — than West Virginia. And perhaps no place in West Virginia has been more affected than the coalfields.

I can honestly say I don’t think there is a family in this state that hasn’t been touched by this problem.

Whether it is the disabled coal miner who becomes addicted to pain medications or the teenager who gets hooked on illegal drugs or even the middle-aged professional who becomes dependent on alcohol or narcotics, substance abuse spares no one.

Some, however, are more vulnerable than others, particularly those who are depressed. And in West Virginia, today, it is easy to be depressed.

Several of our counties are struggling with 13-15 percent unemployment, and that is with a labor force participation rate among the lowest in the nation.

Many of our people have simply given up looking for jobs. They have lost their homes, their cars, their dreams and their hope. And it is in this fertile ground that substance abuse thrives.

Mr. President, I thank you for coming to our state to discuss the problem, but with all due respect, part of the problem is the rampant unemployment that your anti-coal policies are creating.

These policies are creating misery on a scale unimaginable even a few years ago. When you were elected, the unemployment rate in West Virginia was around 4.5 percent. The coal industry was thriving even during one of the worst recessions this country has faced.

In fact, West Virginia was recognized as one of only two or three states nationally that were weathering that recession well.

In just six years that has changed.

We have lost more than 8,000 direct mining jobs and some 40,000 indirect and support jobs in this state alone, most of them in rural, coalfield counties where similar employment options are scarce. Billions of dollars have evaporated from our economy.

The result has been the decimation of our towns and counties, closure of businesses, schools and the erosion of the sense of community that we have prided ourselves in having for so many years. In its place has come a sense of hopelessness and desperation.

Our coal miners are not simply numbers on a report. Our unemployed are not “acceptable collateral damage” in the politics of the moment.

Our people are flesh and blood. They are people who have paid, and paid and paid again, for your policies. They are children, parents, and grandparents who have worked so hard to carve a life from these mountains doing one of the toughest jobs in the world and doing it better than anyone.

By visiting our state, it is my hope that you will begin to see the negative impacts your policies are having on West Virginia and West Virginians.

Yes, we have to address the core issues contributing to our state’s drug problem.

But, lack of employment and the inability to provide for one’s family is a major component. I hope that will become apparent to you during your visit.

Bill Raney is president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

See the article here.

Clean Power Plan Could Limit PA’s Energy Future

Via Centre Daily Times:

On Oct. 9, the Environmental Protection Agency received yet another legal slap on the wrist for its overreaching rule-making — this time on “Water of the United States,” an attempt to regulate water sources nationwide. Eighteen states joined in petitioning the Sixth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals to review the rule, which lead to the court’s decision to issue a nationwide stay pending conclusive determination of the legality of the action and blocking implementation.

This past June, the U.S. Supreme Court remanded another EPA rule on mercury air toxins back to the D.C. Court, ruling that the regulation “caused more harm than good” and that the costs of compliance on the public and economy were just too high.

The EPA’s recent track record of circumventing Congress and sidestepping the democratic process has forced our elected representatives to spend time and resources reining in a rogue agency through the introduction of legislation.

The Review Act, introduced by Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., is one such rule designed to stop “high impact rules” with costs more than $1 billion annually from taking effect until court challenges to the regulation have been settled. Over the past decade, the EPA has introduced 19 “high impact rules” with costs more than $90 billion. The “Clean Power Plan” by the EPA’s own estimate will cost $8.4 billion annually through 2030 and business organizations have put the cost at more than $37 billion annually. As Pennsylvania rushes to develop and submit a compliance plan by 2016, it should be noted that the costs associated with the “Clean Power Plan” will be much higher than those of the MATS rule.

Because of the complexity of the electric market and grid, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission urged EPA to allow states more time to develop their state implementation plans in order to avoid potential blackouts and drastic price increases. As a result, EPA altered the final rule to allow states to easily request a two-year extension and ultimately submit a final plan in 2018. Unfortunately, the state DEP still plans to submit the final and federally enforceable plan by the fall of 2016.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s comments to the EPA stated that “this (rule) will heavily impact and change the composition of electric generation into the future which may both reduce the supply of and increase the price of electricity while threatening the reliability of electricity service to the state and the region.”

The “Clean Power Plan” is a federal state energy policy disguised as an environmental regulation. Congress never granted authority to the EPA to determine how this country produces or consumes electricity and as the PUC also pointed out in its comments, the Federal Power Act is clear that states have primacy in determining an energy market that meets their unique needs and utilizes their unique resources.

Both the U.S. and Pennsylvania have proven that it is possible to grow our economy, produce energy and protect the environment without the need for federal overreach. Since 1970, the domestic consumption from increasingly clean coal has risen 163 percent while regulated emissions from coal-fired power plants were reduced by 85 percent — meeting and exceeding the EPA’s regulated air quality emissions mandated by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. These statistics prove that given the appropriate amount of time and regulatory structure, technologies for burning coal cleaner have been developed and do work.

Given the high costs and the EPA’s track record of legally dubious regulations, it is in Pennsylvania’s best interest to take a very cautious approach and utilize the full three years allowed under the rule to answer the critical questions concerning the price, reliability and total cost of compliance. Pennsylvania’s energy future is too important an issue to rush into and get wrong.

See the article here.

Coalition Of 24 States Sues EPA To Defeat Obama’s Global Warming Agenda

Via The Daily Caller:

A coalition of 24 states is suing the Obama administration in the hopes of defeating what’s been called one of the most “far-reaching energy regulations” in American history: the so-called Clean Power Plan.

“The Clean Power Plan is one of the most far-reaching energy regulations in this nation’s history,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, said in a statement announcing the massive legal challenge.

“West Virginia is proud to be leading the charge against this Administration’s blatant and unprecedented attack on coal,” Morrisey said.

The legal assault comes Friday, the same day the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing the Clean Power Plan (CPP) in the Federal Register — opening it up to legal challenges. Coal companies and other states are expected to sue the EPA as well.

States argues CPP is essentially a federal takeover of state resource and energy policy because it forces a shift away from coal regardless of a state’s own plans. CPP is also being challenged because it regulates power plants already covered by another section of the Clean Air Act.

“As Attorney General, I have a responsibility to protect the lives of millions of working families, the elderly and the poor, from such illegal and unconscionable Federal Government actions,” Morrisey said. “It’s the people who can afford it least who are going to be affected the most.”

This is the second major legal effort against CPP in the last year. A legal challenge by the states and a coal company was dismissed by a federal court earlier this year because CPP had not yet been finalized.

Now that the rule is finished, however, states believe they can mount a more successful legal challenge.

CPP aims to cut U.S. power plant emissions 32 percent by 2030 by forcing states to write plans to reduce emissions from the energy sector. The rule will essentially force states to shutter coal-fired power plants and use more natural gas and green energy to get electricity.

The EPA argues the rule will not completely eliminate coal use, and that coal will still be an important part of America’s power supply for years to come. But states that rely on coal for the vast majority of their electricity argue the rule will massively increase energy prices and require billions of dollars in new grid investments.

West Virginia, for example, is not only the largest coal-producing state east of the Mississippi River, but also relies on coal power for nearly 96 percent of its electricity generation. To comply with CPP, the state will have to shutter more coal mines and plants.

The other 23 states in the lawsuit are in a similar situation. Many of them rely on coal for most of their electricity needs or have large coal mining sectors. Some have both, like West Virginia.

Texas, one of the states challenging the EPA, recently found CPP (combined with EPA’s regional haze rule) could force 4,000 megawatts of coal-fired power capacity to retire which “could pose challenges for maintaining grid reliability.”

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s grid regulator, found that “energy costs for customers may increase by up to 16% by 2030 due to the CPP alone” and that’s without taking into account “the associated costs of transmission upgrades, higher natural gas prices caused by increased gas demand, procurement of additional ancillary services, and other costs associated with the retirement or decreased operation of coal-fired capacity.”

“Consideration of these factors would result in even higher energy costs for customers,” ERCOT found.

While states line up to challenge CPP, environmentalists argue it’s necessary if the U.S. is going to convince the rest of the world it’s serious about tackling global warming.

“The Clean Power Plan is on solid legal footing, and will provide huge climate protection and public health benefits for American families and communities, cutting power plant carbon pollution and saving thousands of lives each year,” David Doniger, a lobbyist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.

“A dirty-energy alliance of coal companies, old-school utilities and their allies will rush to the courthouse with lawsuits stoked with hot rhetoric about its supposedly dire impacts,” Doniger said. “Don’t believe a word of it. The Clean Power Plan will go forward and protect our future.”

See the article here.

West Virginians’ Resilience Being Pushed by Impact of Anti-coal Policies

Via The State Journal:

Chris Hamilton is co-chairman of the West Virginia Coal Forum and senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

Personally, I struggled with the thought of President (Barack) Obama visiting West Virginia this week. On one hand, we have a serious substance abuse problem in this state and we can use all the help we can get to fight it. On the other, I believe some measure of West Virginia’s drug issues are directly attributable to this president’s policies on our coal industry and the resulting joblessness of thousands of miners.

The Obama administration and its Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have treated coal as a pariah for the past seven years. With EPA regulations forcing utilities nationwide to abandon coal for other generating fuels, West Virginia mines are shutting down and more than 8,000 miners have lost work. Our people’s resilience is being severely tested. Hope is fading; despair is setting in.

In other places, such trends have been matched by a rise in drug abuse as people who see their future opportunities crushed try to ease the pain of that loss. It is a tragic choice, but we know that people often turn to drugs out of futility.

President Obama’s visit was to acknowledge that our state has a sizeable and growing drug problem and to offer Washington’s help in addressing that problem.

But how did the problem get so bad in the first place? Like other states, we’ve always had drug abuse in West Virginia. And yet we’ve never seen an explosion of drugs on the scale of the past couple of years — when, it just so happens, West Virginians have been losing their hope for the future on a similarly massive scale.

Can it be that our drug problem is tied to our economic problem? If so, then the president’s search for ways to help us should begin with trying to alleviate the economic crunch West Virginia faces. And one of the best ways to do that would be to back off of the hardcore environmental policies that are costing more West Virginians their jobs month by month.

Even if the current drug epidemic cannot be directly attributed to the coal industry’s sudden decline, the prospect of more coal industry job losses also raises the specter of dozens of nearly empty coal mining towns, where those with education or other skills have moved elsewhere seeking work — and those who remain may be tempted to turn to drugs in their loneliness and despair.

Also, remember this: the clinics, counseling and other help we can expect President Obama to offer will have to be paid for through taxes. With the coal industry crippled, neither the companies themselves nor their dwindling numbers of workers will be paying taxes at levels of the past, so there is less money to help those in need.

Ultimately, we should appreciate the fact that President Obama is aware of West Virginia’s drug problem and is ready to help. But he should look honestly at what some of the root causes might be — the loss of hope brought about by his misguided environmental programs — and look for ways to help our people regain their jobs and optimism about the future.

See the article here.

Governor Pence Opposes EPA’s Carbon Dioxide Regulations

Indianapolis – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published its final Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Source: Electric Utility Generating Units, also known as President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.  Indiana and 23 other states immediately filed suit challenging the regulation.  Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement regarding the final regulation and the lawsuit:

“I firmly believe that the EPA’s carbon dioxide regulation exceeds the authority granted to the EPA by Congress under the Clean Air Act, and I am pleased that our Attorney General is working with attorneys general from across the country to invalidate the regulation in court.

“Indiana is a manufacturing state and a coal state.  Manufacturing requires low-cost electricity to help create jobs.  The 28,000 Hoosiers employed directly or indirectly by Indiana’s coal industry can help provide that low-cost electricity from Indiana’s 300-year supply of coal.  We have historically produced more than 80 percent of our electricity from coal, and Hoosiers know that coal means jobs and low-cost energy.

“The filing of today’s lawsuit is another step in fighting back against the Obama Administration’s war on coal.”

See the release here.

Mining Industry Asks Court to Freeze Obama Climate Rules

Via The Washington Examiner: 

The mining industry is asking a federal appeals court to stay President Obama’s Clean Power Plan until all lawsuits against the rule have been heard.

The National Mining Association joined 16 states and business groups Friday in pressing the court to hear their legal arguments opposing the power plant rules, which they argue will raise energy prices and cause grid instability.

The legal action follows the publication of the rules in the Federal Register, the final stage for the rules to become law, thereby making them challengeable in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The rule’s publication in the Federal Register today formally sets in motion a protracted process for legal challenges to the rule,” the group said. The states and industry groups had sued the Obama administration over the plan last year, before the rule was made final and published. The court rejected that suit for not being timely. The D.C. Circuit court can act on a regulation only after it becomes law and published in the Federal Register.

Hal Quinn, CEO for the mining group, said the industry is “asking the court to weigh carefully the far-reaching harm this rule will inflict immediately, well in advance of its effective date” of 2022. He says the “immediacy of substantial harm from this power plant rule is plain from EPA’s own data that show it will cause more than 200 coal-fired power plants to close before courts have time to decide the legality of the rule.” Therefore, staying the rule — effectively putting it on ice — would stop the compliance clock until a decision can be made on its legality.

A group of 16 states will be asking the court Friday to address its arguments against the Clean Power Plan, which they say is a gross overreach of the government’s authority, an affront to states’ rights and unconstitutional. The plan places states on the hook to reduce their emissions one-third by 2030.

Since, the states have argued their case in the court before, the judges are familiar with their case and could stay the Clean Power Plan quickly before ruling on the merits of the case.

Quinn said the coal industry is still reeling from the effects of previous federal rules for mercury. Those rules caused a number of coal-fired power plants to close. The Clean Power Plan is expected to close hundreds more.

“What happened with EPA’s mercury rule cannot be repeated. That costly regulation resulted in far greater closure of power plants than EPA anticipated, and was promulgated, as was this rule, with cavalier disregard for its probable costs to the economy,” he said. “While that rule was ultimately found unlawful due to EPA’s failure to consider costs, the damage it imposed to the grid and the economy cannot be undone.”

See the article here.

NMA Asks Court to Stay EPA’s Destructive Power Plant Rule

Washington, D.C. – In order to prevent significant and imminent harm to scores of states’ economies and millions of consumers nationwide, the National Mining Association (NMA) today asked a federal court to stay the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) controversial Clean Power Plan until legal challenges to the rule are resolved.

NMA’s filing in D.C. Circuit Court, together with similar filings from states all over the nation and business interests, confirms the growing concern with the immediate economic consequences of EPA’s plan to transform the nation’s electric grid. The rule’s publication in the Federal Register today formally sets in motion a protracted process for legal challenges to the rule.

“We are today asking the court to weigh carefully the far-reaching harm this rule will inflict immediately, well in advance of its effective date,” said NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn. “The immediacy of substantial harm from this power plant rule is plain from EPA’s own data that show it will cause more than 200 coal-fired power plants to close before courts have time to decide the legality of the rule.”

EPA’s 2012 mercury rule was a bad omen of pain to come, said Quinn. “What happened with EPA’s mercury rule cannot be repeated. That costly regulation resulted in far greater closure of power plants than EPA anticipated, and was promulgated, as was this rule, with cavalier disregard for its probable costs to the economy.”

While that rule was ultimately found unlawful due to EPA’s failure to consider costs, the damage it imposed to the grid and the economy cannot be undone.

See the release here.

 

Wyoming Legislators May Block Federal Clean Power Plan

Via The Wyoming Tribune Eagle:

CHEYENNE (WTE) – State lawmakers are set to consider a proposal that could restrict Wyoming’s ability to comply with new federal environmental regulations.

A legislative committee will meet Friday to consider a bill that would block the state from implementing the Clean Power Plan unless several conditions are met.

The controversial environmental measure, which was announced this August, seeks to reduce carbon emissions nationwide by 32 percent by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels.

Wyoming has a goal of cutting the state’s total emissions by 37 to 44 percent – depending on what measurements are used – compared to its 2012 baseline.

States are required to submit an implementation plan to the federal government by next year.

But the proposal would only allow the state to implement the new regulations if the Legislature gives its blessing or a federal court issues a final judgment upholding the legality of the Clean Power Plan.

Supporters say this will ensure the Legislature will have a say on how the efforts to combat climate change are enforced in Wyoming.

But others say it would restrict the governor and other state officials from crafting the plan that best works for the state.

Read more about the proposal and what influential group is backing it in Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

See the article here.

U.S. Moves Ahead With Carbon Rule as 25 States Prepare to Sue

Via WTVB: 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will formally issue carbon regulations for power plants on Friday, opening the door to a wave of lawsuits from states and industry groups.

The EPA will publish its Clean Power Plan in the Federal Register, a formal step that will start the clock on legal challenges from opponents of the rule.

The Obama administration unveiled the final version of the Clean Power Plan on Aug. 3. It aims to lower emissions from the country’s power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

President Barack Obama called the rule the biggest action the United States had taken to date to address climate change.

On Friday, West Virginia will announce its plans to take legal action against the EPA, leading a coalition of 25 states who think the rule is illegal and will cause them economic harm.

“West Virginia, working with a large bipartisan coalition of other States, will be filing suit and seeking a stay of the rule promptly tomorrow,” said the state’s attorney general Patrick Morrisey.

On Aug. 15, West Virginia and 14 other state attorneys general petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to stay the rule but the court later declined because it had not yet been published in the federal register.

To obtain a stay, petitioners must show likelihood that they will ultimately win the case and suffer “irreparable harm” if a stay is not granted.

Industry and state lawyers have said they believe the regulation will exceed the scope of the 45-year-old Clean Air Act, the law under which the EPA is acting.

Critics say in part that the law only allows the government to regulate greenhouse gases spewed directly from “an existing source” such as individual power plants.

One business group that is expected to file suit against the EPA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents a range of American companies.

“We’re all watching the Federal Register each morning, but I can’t share anything about the Chamber’s plans yet,” said Matt Letourneau, a spokesman for the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.

See the article here.

Clean Power Plan Facing Opposition in Missouri

Via KOMU 8:

COLUMBIA – A nationally mandated Clean Power Plan is facing opposition in Missouri.

The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has finalized its Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. It’s awaiting publication in the Federal Register to become official, which is expected this month.

It is the first nationwide standard to end what President Obama called the limitless dumping of carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

The EPA has developed individual targets for each state, but has decided to allow each state the ability to make its own plan to reach the targets set by the EPA.

Christian Johanningmeier, the power production superintendent at the Municipal Power Plant in Columbia said that in Missouri, over 80% of the energy comes from burning coal.

“Missouri is a state that uses a lot of coal generation and so they have one of the largest reduction targets to meet in the nation. I think either 32 or 37 percent,” Johanningmeier said.

Alexandra Krus, the director for Mizzou Energy Action Coalition, said that moving away from fossil fuels, such as coal, is important in slowing climate change.

“Because we’re not using as much clean power and clean energy as we should globally, CO2 emissions are continually being emitted into the atmosphere, which means it’s adding a blanket to our atmosphere making it warmer and warmer,” Krus said.

She said this could eventually make it hard for farmers to carry out their jobs in the most efficient way possible.

“We are so reliant on crops, especially corn in the Midwest. Farmers won’t be able to predict weather patterns making it more difficult to yield the right amount of crops,” Krus said.

She said she is really excited action is being taken.

“It’s amazing. I feel that we think governmental systems are unresponsive. It’s cool to see that grassroots clubs do make a difference and the government is listening to the people,” Krus said.

However, not all governmental bodies are in favor of this new plan.

Missouri State Senator David Sater wrote on countoncoal.org, “A plan that requires us to change our source of power so drastically and so quickly will be devastating to our economy.”

He went on to say that he doesn’t think it’s right for the federal government to impose plans on state governments.

“I don’t know about you but I am tired of this relationship between the states and the federal government where we have to ask for permission to do something the Constitution already gives us the authority to do or we are forced into doing something through threats of withheld funding or fines,” Sater said.

Johanningmeier said he expects to see a greater emphasis on renewable energy, such as wind and solar energy, in the coming future.

According to the EPA, these zero-emitting renewable energy sources are expected to grow from 12% in 2012 to 21% in 2030.

However, Johanningmeier said the transition to wind and solar energy sources could cause some challenges.

“Solar and wind are intermittent resources, meaning they are only available when the sun is shinning and the wind is blowing. It adds a degree of complexity, so you have to have other assets available so people can still turn on their lights,” Johanningmeier said.

He said because the Clean Power Plan is still in its early stages, no one is really going to know what it means quite yet.

However, according to the EPA, the Clean Power Plan will protect public health, avoiding each year: 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work and school days.

Johanningmeier said the Municpal Power Plant in Columbia recently decided to stop using coal for reasons outside of the Clean Power Plan.

He says he expects a lot of state’s to sue the federal government once the plan is published later this month.

See the article here.

Missouri Among 20 Other States Challenging EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Via Lake News Online:

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster recently announced the state would be joining 22 others in challenging the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, arguing the plan exceeds the federal agency’s authority that set strict limits on carbon emissions for each state.

Koster announced the decision to join federal suit with other states during a speech at the Missouri Electric Coop’s annual meeting in Branson on October 9 as soon as the final rule is formally published by the EPA, the date of which has yet to be determined.

“The Clean Air act may authorize EPA to regulate source of pollution, but it does not empower the agency to mandate the mix of traditional and renewable energy sources “beyond the fence line” of any given plant. Nor does it empower the agency to override Missouri’s elected representatives in setting energy policy for this state,” Koster said in his speech. “Look folks, I believe that climate change is real, and cleaner energy production is an important state goal, one Missouri’s energy producers are already aggressively working toward.”

Koster noted that Missouri’s energy procures estimate that complying with EPA’s deadlines would cost the state more than $6 billion while generating only $5-6 million and argued Missouri is better off maintaining low-energy costs while continuing to develop low-and-zero emission sources of energy on a more reasonable timeline.
The rules are expected to hit Missouri’s electric cooperative members especially hard because 80 percent of the electricity used by them comes from coal, the generation fuel source singled out by the new regulations. That is troubling to electric co-op leaders because they serve some of the poorest counties in the state, the Lake Sun previously reported.

“We thank Mr. Koster for his support in listening to the concerns of our members,” Nick Seiner, a Southwest Electric Cooperative representative wrote via email. “We also owe thanks to the nearly 20,000 members of electric cooperatives across the state who signed a petition encouraging Missouri’s officials to take action.”
State Representative Rocky Miller (R-124) also applauded the Attorney General’s decision to challenge the EPA’s ruling as he had previously asked for. Miller, who is the Chairman of the Energy and the Environment Committee, said the lawsuit is to stop the implementation of a costly rule until all legal challenges have been completed.

“We got burned once on the EPA’s rule on power plant emissions earlier this year, when the Supreme Court sent the rule back to the EPA, but our utilities and their customers had been forced into spending millions of dollars,” Miller wrote in his Capital Connection newsletter. “Let’s not get fooled again.”

See the article here.

Coal Supporters Use Obama Visit to Spotlight Economy Woes

Via West Virginia MetroNews:

Ahead of President Obama’s visit to Charleston to talk about the nation’s drug problem, some in the state believed there were equally pressing issues the president has ignored.  Around 100 gathered on the capitol grounds Wednesday morning to spotlight and protest the effects of Obama’s environmental policies on West Virginia.

“Seemed like in 2000 when Mr. Bush got in office things were really booming, but when Obama was elected, the environmental part of his wing has taken us downhill ever since,” said Ricky Workman of Logan.

Workman is employed at Patriot Coal’s Guyan Mine and will lose his job Friday. He wasn’t sure what to do next.

“I really don’t know.  My wife and I are going to go down south next week and I’m going to look around down there,” he said. “I hate to leave my home, but I’ve got to work. I’ve got a kid starting college up at Morgantown next year.”

Leaving his house won’t be easy for a number of reasons.  As jobs have dwindled in coalfield communities in recent years, so have the prospects of home sales.

“If you go from my house to Logan up Route 10 in six miles there’s 47 houses for sale,” said Joe Huff of Chapmanville. “These people are trying to get out of here and they can’t sell what they’ve got because nobody can afford to buy one anymore.”

“Nobody’s got the money,” added Workman. “There’s houses that have been for sale for four years down there and there’s absolutely nobody buying any homes.”

The mood of the small crowd was a mix of worry and anger, but tempered with desperation.  Some indicated they aren’t sure what to expect next, like Brock Crites from Philippi who works in the oil and natural gas industry.

“The oil and natural gas industry in West Virginia was a major employer up until this point,” said Crites. “Just the simple fact the drilling operations are slowed by half is pretty detrimental to people’s way to make a living, pay their bills, and keeping their house from being repossessed.”

Chris Hamilton, vice-president of the West Virginia Coal Association vowed to the crowd they would win the war on coal.  U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito encouraged the group to stand strong. However even she admitted frustration in Washington when trying to convey the woes of West Virginia’s economy.  The region has weathered economic storms before, but it’s a new kind of storm according to Workman.

“We’ve had turns in the coal market but you always knew it would eventually come back,” Workman said. “But we have never had the government so adamant about shutting us down and doing away with our industry.”

See the article here.

Former EPA Official: Clean Power Plan Won’t Survive

Via RTO Insider:

BALTIMORE — Former Environmental Protection Agency official Jeff Holmstead says he hasn’t made predictions on how the courts will rule on previous environmental rules affecting the electric industry.

But Holmstead, former EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation, says he’s very confident that the agency’s new carbon emission rule, the Clean Power Plan, will not live long enough to be implemented.

“I have not been out there predicting any of the other rules would be struck down,” said Holmstead,  now a lobbyist for utilities and the coal industry, during a panel discussion that opened the Organization of PJM States Inc. annual meeting last week.

r

“I had my concerns about [the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards]; I had concerns about [the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule]; but I was pretty confident they would be upheld in court. … But this rule is completely different from anything that EPA’s ever done before. … If this gets to the Supreme Court, there are right now almost certainly five justices that would vote to overturn it.”

Although the court has said EPA can regulate CO2 emissions, Holmstead said, the agency must do so by setting an emission rate based on the best technology available. “It cannot require an existing source to go out and pay another entity to do something else that has nothing to do with the particular plant,” he said.

“The only program I think that would clearly withstand judicial scrutiny would be an inside-the-fence line, efficiency-based approach. The reason EPA didn’t do that is because it doesn’t get you very much,” he said. “The reason they’ve taken this big, legally vulnerable step is because that’s the only way they thought they could get meaningful reductions.”

Holmstead — who served in both Bush administrations and now lobbies for Arch Coal, Southern Co. and Duke Energy as head of the environmental strategies group at Bracewell & Giuliani — is hardly a neutral observer. He is loathed by environmentalists, with Greenpeacelabeling him “King Coal’s Mercury Pollution Lobbyist.”

But none of the other members of the panel — which included PJM’s Mike Kormos and officials from Exelon, American Electric Power, the American Wind Energy Association and the Southern Environmental Law Center — challenged Holmstead’s legal analysis, although some questioned his prediction that a Supreme Court ruling could come by the end of 2017.

(At a conference in Washington Tuesday, EPA Associate Assistant Administrator Joseph Goffman said the rule’s building blocks – which include increased dispatch of natural gas plants and renewables – “reflect what states and utilities told us was the ‘Best System of Emission Reduction.’”)

Holmstead pointed to four dates that will determine the rule’s fate:

In the first quarter of 2016, he said, a decision is likely by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on requests for a stay (highly unlikely, he acknowledges).

The next milepost will be the 2016 presidential election. “The [EPA] administrator and the administration have been telling people around the world that once this regulation is finalized it will be very hard for anyone to change it. It becomes a part of the law and what’s done is done,” he said.

“There are some rules that are very difficult for a new administration to change, for legal reasons or practical reasons. But this is not one of those regulations. So I can say with some confidence that if there is a Republican administration … the rule will fairly quickly be revoked.”

Holmstead sees a D.C. Circuit court ruling on the merits of the rule by the end of 2016 because the Obama administration has said it wants to defend it before the president leaves office.

Because of the expedited schedule, a Supreme Court ruling could come by the end of 2017, he said, though others say 2019 is a more realistic timeline.

And if the rule is thrown out?

“At that point we’re probably all back on Capitol Hill talking about legislation,” he said. “And the good thing about legislation of course is that it really does provide you much more certainty.

“The fact that EPA will ultimately likely regulate [carbon] regardless of how this rule comes out doesn’t tell you very much about your future investment decisions. Because you just don’t know if EPA can do anything that’s at all aggressive.”

See the article here.

Answers Must Address the Root of the Drug Problem

Via The Charleston Gazette:

Thank you President Obama for coming to West Virginia to discuss the rampant drug problem faced by our state, our region and, indeed, our nation.

Perhaps no place has been more affected by the scourge of drugs — both prescription and illegal — than West Virginia. And perhaps no place in West Virginia has been more affected than the coalfields.

I can honestly say I don’t think there is a family in this state that hasn’t been touched by this problem.

Whether it is the disabled coal miner who becomes addicted to pain medications or the teenager who gets hooked on illegal drugs or even the middle-aged professional who becomes dependent on alcohol or narcotics, substance abuse spares no one.

Some, however, are more vulnerable than others, particularly those who are depressed. And in West Virginia, today, it is easy to be depressed.

Several of our counties are struggling with 13-15 percent unemployment, and that is with a labor force participation rate among the lowest in the nation.

Many of our people have simply given up looking for jobs. They have lost their homes, their cars, their dreams and their hope. And it is in this fertile ground that substance abuse thrives.

Mr. President, I thank you for coming to our state to discuss the problem, but with all due respect, part of the problem is the rampant unemployment that your anti-coal policies are creating.

These policies are creating misery on a scale unimaginable even a few years ago. When you were elected, the unemployment rate in West Virginia was around 4.5 percent.  The coal industry was thriving even during one of the worst recessions this country has faced.

In fact, West Virginia was recognized as one of only two or three states nationally that were weathering that recession well.

In just six years that has changed.

We have lost more than 8,000 direct mining jobs and some 40,000 indirect and support jobs in this state alone, most of them in rural, coalfield counties where similar employment options are scarce. Billions of dollars have evaporated from our economy.

The result has been the decimation of our towns and counties, closure of businesses, schools and the erosion of the sense of community that we have prided ourselves in having for so many years. In its place has come a sense of hopelessness and desperation.

Our coal miners are not simply numbers on a report. Our unemployed are not “acceptable collateral damage” in the politics of the moment.

Our people are flesh and blood. They are people who have paid dearly for your policies. They are children, parents, and grandparents who have worked so hard to carve a life from these mountains doing one of the toughest jobs in the world and doing it better than anyone.

By visiting our state, it is my hope that you will begin to see the negative impacts your policies are having on West Virginia and West Virginians.

Yes, we have to address the core issues contributing to our state’s drug problem.

But, lack of employment and the inability to provide for one’s family is a major component. I hope that will become apparent to you during your visit.

Bill Raney is president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

See the article here.

EPA’s Plan on Clean Power Oversteps Federal Authority

Via The Gazette: 

The quest for cleaner energy is one of the great challenges of the 21st century and has fueled many “green” initiatives in recent years. But something troubling is coming down the pike now that the Obama administration has announced its new “Clean Power Plan” (CPP). In a full-speed-ahead quest to lower carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power plants, the administration is implementing new Environmental Protection Agency rules that raise troubling legal issues.

For starters, the EPA, which has never previously demonstrated expertise in regulating America’s vast power grid, will begin to shut down coal plants under a vague authority derived from the Clean Air Act. Essentially, coal, the most affordable and abundant fuel used to generate electricity in the U.S. – and which generates about 40 percent of the nation’s power supply – will be phased out in favor of higher priced and less reliable wind and solar.

The problem, as legal experts are now pointing out, is that the EPA plan oversteps federal authority. Harvard University Constitutional Law Professor Laurence Tribe, who is generally a supporter of the president’s agenda, told Congress this year that the plan exceeds the EPA’s authority under federal law. According to Professor Tribe, the CPP makes states unacceptably subservient to Washington on energy and environmental matters because it “invades state regulatory control in an unprecedented manner” that “raises grave constitutional questions that the Act must be construed to avoid.”

How exactly is the EPA overreaching its authority? As Professor Tribe explains, the EPA will force states to adopt policies that will raise energy costs, a blunt approach that runs counter to the mandates of many state energy commissions. The EPA rules are deceptive, too, in that they claim to provide states with a “choice” in devising new energy approaches. As Professor Tribe notes, there is little real choice when state policies are in fact compelled by the EPA: “Such sleight-of-hand offends democratic principles by avoiding political transparency and accountability.”

The EPA doesn’t recognize this conflict of interest, unfortunately. As EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said recently, “We’re particularly interested in making sure states and utilities can achieve emissions reductions along a flexible glide path so that they can meet their targets.”

Far from being flexible, the CPP seizes the authority long held by states to regulate their power systems. And what’s being imposed is disturbing because it could lead to heavy-handed plant closures in states that rely on coal for everyday living.

Not only are wind and solar intermittent sources of energy – the wind doesn’t always blow, the sun doesn’t always shine – but the coal plants on the chopping block have continually proven their durability and reliability in supplying robust electricity. As the EPA shuts down these high-performing coal plants, the reliability and affordability of electricity in many states will become victims to a misguided, one-size-fits-all agenda. Consumers will thus pay higher electric bills while facing potential blackouts during peak usage.

Which brings us to the pushback emerging from states as they realize their authority to structure internal energy supply is being usurped by Washington. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has issued an executive order directing that her state will not comply with “such a clear overreach of federal authority.” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has made the same declaration regarding a policy he believes “will drive up electricity prices without any discernible impact on global carbon dioxide emissions.”

All in all, more than 20 states are preparing to join a lawsuit against the EPA’s overreach. Historically, states have established their own energy policies to ensure adequate and reliable service at reasonable prices. But the EPA’s vast federal bureaucracy faces no such mandate. Instead, it seeks to impose a heavy-handed “solution” that will likely dismantle decades of carefully managed, localized energy regulation. This poses a troubling and expensive problem for working class America, and state governors should reject such unwise federal mismanagement.

Terry M. Jarrett is an attorney with Healy Law Offices LLC in Jefferson City, Mo., and a former commissioner of the Missouri Public Service Commission.

See the article here.

Texans Warned of ‘Rolling Blackouts’ if EPA Clean Power Rule is Implemented

Via WOAI 1200:

A business group is warning today that the controversial Clean Power Plan presented last month by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could leave Texas customers with rolling blackouts, and no electricity when they turn on the light switch, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

the group Balanced Energy for Texas says implementing of the Clean Power Plan will result in at least 4,000 megawatts of coal-fired electricity generation capacity being removed from the market before utilities have had the opportunity to replace it with cleaner burning fuels.

“This could post challenges for maintaining grid reliability and these impacts are likely to intensify and occur earlier when the effects of the Clean Power Plan are combined with other environmental regulations,” Balance Energy general council Mike Nasi said.

Nasi and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas warn the ‘forced shut downs’ of coal fired plans could result in ‘pderids of reduced system-wide resource adequacy and localized transmission reliability issues.’

But CPS Energy disputes the claim that power shortages loom due to the EPA action.

“Texas is on a good path regardless of the EPA ruling due to our investment in renewables,” CPS Energy’s Chris Eugster said on Twitter.

Indeed, CPS Energy plans to retire its largest coal fired generating station, the Dealy Unit, by 2018, and has already invested in a natural gas fired facility to replace it.

In addition, CPS Energy has been a leader in bringing both solar and wind power on line.

Nasi says there is no indication that state will be able to handle the cuts in power generation capacity, especially at a time when the state’s population is booming and the economy is strong, meaning both homes and employers are operating full time.

“Reduced system-wide adequacy and localized transmission reliability issues mean statewide rolling blackouts and that in some regions of Texas, Texans will consistently go to flip a light switch or lower the air conditioning dial only to find that nothing turns on,” he said.

Nasi says there will also be a ‘baseline’ of 16% increases in the cost of electricity, but warns of ‘dramatic additional costs’ to consumers as the power grid struggles to bring more expensive clean power on line.

“There will be dramatic additional costs associated witht he rule that will add to that percentage,” he said.  “Specifically, transmission, fuel, ancillary services and premature shutdown of valuable assets are flagged as areas that will result in additional costs to consumers.”

He pegs the cost to Texans of the new EPA rule at $600 million.

Balanced Energy for Texas says the ‘market’ should be allowed to work, and the same end will be achieved without the disruptions caused by government intervention.

“If the market is allowed to work, older fossil units will be retired as investments and outstanding obligations are paid off and ratepayers will not be exposed to drastic rate increases often triggered by premature retirmements and stranded investments,” Nasi said.  “Texas has no megawatts to spare, and the state must be thoughtful about how we ensure reliable, affordable electricity for growing demand.  Thankfully, our grid is in the hands of experts like the PUCT, and not the EPA or those who would have us hand over control to them.”

See the article here.

Sens. Heitkamp, Wicker See Unattainable Standards in ‘Clean Power Plan’

Via KFYR-TV

Posted: Tue 5:47 PM, Oct 13, 2015
By: Peter Zampa, Washington Correspondent

The Environmental Protection Agency’s ‘Clean Power Plan’ has stirred controversy throughout the United States. Some senators believe the administration is setting unachievable standards for carbon dioxide and ozone reductions.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., say the standards being set by the EPA’s final “Clean Power Plan” rule are simply unattainable.

Heitkamp says North Dakota has achieved standards in the past, and that North Dakota air is exceptionally clean, but the new standards are too difficult.

“Everybody loves clean air, but we have to be realistic about how we can get there,” said Heitkamp.

Wicker and the rest of the Mississippi delegation sent a letter to federal agencies expressing their concern with the strain the plan could put on the people in their state.

“If it goes through and is fully implemented, it’s going to put requirements on the state of Mississippi that will explode the monthly power bills of our citizens,” said Wicker.

Wicker doesn’t believe the EPA’s shift toward renewable energy will bring enough benefit to outweigh the cost on the people.

“They say, ‘Well, you can ship in renewable power from other states.’ I can just tell you, Mississippi power bills are going to be a lot more expensive. A lot more expensive,” said Wicker.

Heitkamp says she wants more cooperation between the EPA and the states.

“All of these rules form a cumulative belief that there isn’t much consultation at EPA,” said Heitkamp.

The EPA refused to speak in person, but said in a statement that the standards come as a result of “continually looking at the latest scientific evidence to protect public health with ‘an adequate margin of safety.'”

Read the rest of the article here.

North Dakota Will Fight Clean Power Plan

Via The Bismarck Tribune 

21 hours ago • By Jessica Holdman

North Dakota’s response to limits on carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants will be a two-track approach — litigation and preparation.

North Dakota Department of Health will create the state implementation plan to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan while North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem battles the rule in court, Stenehjem told attendees of the EmPower ND Energy Conference in Bismarck Tuesday.

“It does not make sense for North Dakota to sit back and decide we’re not going to do anything,” Stenehjem said. “We need to be ready and try to comply the best we can while we continue along the litigation path …. If we do nothing, we’ll get a federal plan that will be even worse.”

Under the finalized Clean Power Plan released in August, North Dakota must reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 45 percent by 2020, up from 11 percent when the rules were first proposed.

Health Department Environmental Health Section Chief David Glatt said, when the proposed rules came out, companies weren’t happy but thought “there’s a path forward with this.” When the higher percentage came out in the final rules, they were astonished.

“We didn’t recognize it anymore as compared to the initial rule,” said Stenehjem, pointing out the large difference could be ruled a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and he likes his chances in court. He said the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule was recently stayed on these same arguments.

Stenehjem also questions whether the rules should have been made at all since coal power plants are already regulated under section 112 of the Clean Air Act.

“I think the rule does face some real legal vulnerability,” Stenehjem said.

North Dakota has not joined in any lawsuits filed against the EPA to date, waiting for it to be published in the Federal Register, which is expected later this month. At that time, the state will file a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit in hopes of getting a stay on the rule.

“We’re proceeding and ready now so we can file (when it’s published). We’ll be ready to pounce as soon as that happens,” said Stenehjem, adding he also plans to file alone rather than join with other states because of North Dakota’s coal industry faces unique circumstances. “We need to pursue this on our own.”

Stenehjem said another thing working in North Dakota’s favor is a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on mercury emission standards that requires the EPA to consider costs in the rule-making process.

“I can’t measure CO2 reduction if we shut down all the power plants in North Dakota,” said Glatt, adding that the air might be cleaner but he’s not convinced it will provide a better way of life for North Dakotans.

Energy costs will be higher and jobs will be lost and pay will be less, Glatt said.

“That is something that we have to look at,” said Glatt, explaining the state also was hit hard with compliance issues on renewable energy. “All those wind towers you see, we’re not going to get credit for them.”

Any wind energy installed before Jan. 1, 2013, won’t be counted toward North Dakota’s goal. That omits more than 5 million megawatt hours constructed in 2012 from consideration. New natural gas fired power plants also won’t help with compliance.

North Dakota energy production is 75 percent coal and 25 percent renewables, including 18 percent from wind.
“We have not been sitting on our hands,” Glatt said.

About 55 percent of the energy produced in North Dakota goes to other states.

“I’ve gotten phone calls from the commissioner in Minnesota asking ‘What are you going to do?’” Glatt said. “That tells me there’s a regional impact.”

North Dakota may also have to share some of the credit for wind energy installed more recently with Minnesota. Glatt said the same thing is happening to Wyoming, which houses wind towers that produce electricity sent to California. He said the same transfer did not take place for coal.

North Dakota could buy emission rate credits at an expected rate of $30, totaling as much as $400 million to $450 million to the state annually.

A model plan developed by the EPA for the state also suggests closing two power plants and units at two others by 2018 to meet goals — R.M. Heskett Station in Mandan, Coyote Station near Beulah, one unit of Milton R. Young Station near Center and one unit of Coal Creek Station near Underwood. This would not only affect the workers at these plants but those at the mines supplying their coal.

Glatt said he was unaware of who might have authority to close a plant, but, if a company was found out of compliance and penalized, “it would likely collapse under its own weight.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Coal Must Remain Part of State’s Power-Source Portfolio

Via the St. Cloud Times 

Rep. Jim Newberger, District 15B 12:02 p.m. CDT October 12, 2015

Letters

The Sept. 26 letter “No coal does not mean closing Sherco” suggests transitioning the Xcel Energy Sherco power plant in Becker toward clean energy, such as wind power, instead of shutting it down. It fails to mention Xcel is the nation’s leading producer of wind energy, and wind power alone is not a reliable, affordable resource. Simply put, existing solar and wind technology can’t replace the base load power that coal provides.

That’s why Minnesota must embrace an all-of-the-above energy plan that includes a diverse set of energy resources, including coal-based electricity.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal provides roughly 46 percent of the electricity consumed by our state. Coal-based electricity is a reliable baseload resource that can be easily and economically supplemented by renewable. This diverse mix of energy sources allows Minnesotans to enjoy some of the most competitive electricity rates in the country, leaving more money in their pockets for other needs.

Minnesota already enjoys some the cleanest air in the country. In fact, the coal industry’s proactive efforts have lowered emissions from Minnesota electric utilities over the past 20years and significantly improved our state’s air quality. That’s why Minnesota continues to earn high grades on clean air from the American Lung Association.

Closing the Sherco plant altogether would cost our community about 1,000 good-paying jobs, not to mention the ripple effects a closure would have on local economies and businesses that rely on the affordable energy produced in Becker.

If we truly want to help hardworking families have affordable and reliable energy, good jobs and energy security, we must recognize the importance of preserving coal as part of our region’s energy mix. That starts with preserving the Sherco plant. I urge Gov. Mark Dayton to join national efforts to push back against EPA overreach and fight for Minnesota jobs.

Read the full story here.

WV Attorney General Submits FOIA to EPA for Clean Power Plan

Via WBOY

By Nick Farrell
West Virginia’s attorney general is leading a bipartisan coalition seeking information from the EPA on its Clean Power Plan.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey made a Freedom of Information Act request to learn why the rule hasn’t been published in the federal register.

Until that rule is published, states that disagree with the plan can’t file suit against the EPA.

Morrisey’s request is backed by 14 states, including West Virginia.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito also supports the push to learn more about a rule that she believes will impact the U.S. for years to come.

“All of this regulatory environment is just a beating down of the American economy, and we’re really feeling it in West Virginia,” said Moore Capito. “Basically, the long-term consequences I see are a lack of global competitiveness where we fall back among our competitors in the world, and that hurts our workers and that hurts our families.”

Added Morrisey: “If we can get into court and prove our case the right way, I think we can inject a sense of hope in the citizens of West Virginia, and people know that since the EPA is proceeding on an illegal front, if we win, that could lead to a rebound. Maybe not to where we were back in 2008 or 2009, but it could be very positive.”

The Clean Power Plan was signed Aug. 3.

Even though it hasn’t been published in the federal register, state’s must comply with the rule’s strict deadlines.

Read the full article here.

World Coal Association’s Sporton Discusses Global Disconnect on Industry’s Future

Via E&E TV

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What is the global coal industry seeking from governments at this December’s United Nations climate meeting in Paris? During today’s OnPoint, Benjamin Sporton, chief executive of the World Coal Association, explains why he believes developing nations will continue to rely on coal, even as they bring more clean energy online. He also discusses the challenging market dynamics facing the U.S. coal industry and talks about the viability of commercial-scale carbon capture and storage technology.

 

Monica Trauzzi: Hello, and welcome to OnPoint. I’m Monica Trauzzi. With me today is Benjamin Sporton, chief executive of the World Coal Association. Benjamin, thanks for joining me.

Benjamin Sporton: Oh, no, thanks for having me.

Monica Trauzzi: Benjamin, such a wide range of interests and political dynamics represented by your organization. What is the one message you’re hoping to deliver at the U.N. Paris meeting in December?

Benjamin Sporton: What we’re really focused on messaging is that coal is playing a really important role in powering up the developing and emerging economies through Asia, that coal has a really important role to play there, but in fact, elsewhere around the world, and that we can do with the fact that coal is in demand and being used by looking at a role for high-efficiency, low-emissions coal-fire technology moving towards carbon capture and storage in the future and that we can meet both our development and our climate obligations and ambitions as integrated priorities by using those technologies.

Monica Trauzzi: But there is that big question mark about whether those developing countries should be focused on coal or whether they should be leapfrogging to newer, cleaner technologies.

Benjamin Sporton: A lot of those countries need a lot of energy, and so they’re actually looking at both sides of that equation. Take, for example, India’s INDC that they released earlier this week. That’s sort of very big ambition there for growing renewables in India, but at the same time, they’re looking at building about 290 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations. So these countries need so much energy that they’re looking at renewables, they’re looking at gas, they’re looking at nuclear, some of them, and many of them are looking at a very significant role for coal, which is why I think we need to have a big focus on helping them use the best coal technology.

Monica Trauzzi: So overall, does your organization support efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions?

Benjamin Sporton: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s important to focus on how we can reduce emissions, but recognize the fact that many developing and emerging economies are looking for affordable, reliable energy. In many cases, they get that from coal. So what we need to do is help them use that coal in the most efficient, the cleanest way possible by using modern high-efficiency, low-emissions coal-fire power stations. These plants, which are in operation around the world at the moment, can reduce emissions from coal by about — CO2 emissions from coal by about 35 to 40 percent, depending on the technology. The other really important thing for them is that they reduce the non-CO2 emissions as well, the particulate matter — SOx, NOx and those kind of things — can almost eliminate those emissions. So you get big CO2 benefits, but you also get big clean air benefits as well.

Monica Trauzzi: So what does this all translate to in terms of financing? Are you looking for specific commitments from the international community, from governments to continue the development of coal, and specifically clean coal technologies?

Benjamin Sporton: Yeah. Well, I think it’s really important to do is that we have financing in the international sphere for helping countries move away from the less efficient subcritical coal technologies and help them to deploy the high-efficiency, low-emission technologies. The World Coal Association, earlier this year, launched a paper — a concept paper called “A Global Platform for Accelerating Coal Efficiency.” The idea behind that is to try and help those countries that are using coal to move away from the less efficient, subcritical technologies and help them go down a pathway of high-efficiency, low-emissions coal to overcome the technological barriers — not all of them have access to this technology — to help them actually get that technology, and obviously, to help them finance it as well. We think it’s an important role that the international community can play — development banks and others — to help finance just the added capital costs that some of these plants do have.

Monica Trauzzi: So we’ve been at this conversation about carbon and capture and storage technology for quite some time. I had many guests on the show discussing it. Why aren’t we at commercial viability yet, and what’s the timeline for commercially scalable CCS?

Benjamin Sporton: I think the big thing we need to recognize is that in the last 10 years or so, there’s been something like $2 trillion invested in renewable technologies. Only 1 percent of that has been in carbon capture and storage, and we need to ask ourselves why. I think one of the main reasons for that is that we haven’t seen the same sort of policies … directed towards renewables as — directed towards carbon capture and storage as we have seen directed towards renewables. We don’t get the same sort of policy positions put in favor; we don’t hear politicians talk about carbon capture and storage as much. Renewable technology often gets, for example, feed-in tariffs or contracts for difference, things like that. Very rarely, if ever, is that directed towards carbon capture and storage. I think we need more consistent policy support for CCS. We need to recognize that all our emission technologies have a role to play and we need more government support for that.

Monica Trauzzi: There really does seem to be sort of this two-pronged conversation on coal. Here in the U.S., for example, there is this push to clean up coal, but also for diversification in the electric power sector. When you consider a country like Turkey, though, they’re rapidly growing and expanding their use of coal. Is there sort of a global disconnect on coal and what its future should be?

Benjamin Sporton: I think we’re seeing countries in North America and in Europe, they’ve had very big focus on pushing towards renewables and other technologies. That has had an impact in terms of economic competitiveness and the cost of that. The energy vendor in Germany has been a very expensive exercise, and I’m based in the U.K., and we’ve seen electricity prices increase as we’ve had a push towards renewables there. Here in the United States, the Clean Power Plan is, I think, expected to move the kind of mix of coal — coal’s contribution to the mix — from about 33 to 35 percent today to about 27 percent of the mix in 2030 at huge economic cost, and I think that’s just — it’s interesting.

Monica Trauzzi: Which is up for debate.

Benjamin Sporton: Oh, it’s up for debate, maybe, but I think the evidence shows that it will be very expensive to do that, and that leads to an impression, I think, that we can move away from coal, but economies, particularly in developing and emerging Asia, are still growing, they’re industrializing, they’re urbanizing, and they’re looking for affordable, reliable energy. For them, renewables will have a role to play, but they don’t necessarily meet the huge demand for electricity that exists in those countries. Gas might not be an option for some of those countries because it is more expensive, needs more infrastructure, and things like that. So a lot of these countries are looking to coal because they’ve either got it domestically or they can access it easily on the seaborne market, and I think that is why they’re looking at coal, and many of them want to use it in an affordable, reliable, accessible, but also clean way. India in their INDC this week really made it clear that coal is the backbone of their electricity mix even while they’re pushing towards renewables, but they’re really focused on trying to use it in the cleanest way possible.

Monica Trauzzi: In the U.S., the shift away from coal is not just about policy; market conditions don’t really support the growth of coal as an industry. So do you ultimately consider the U.S. a lost market and not necessarily an area where you’ll see growth?

Benjamin Sporton: Well, the market conditions here, I think, have been driven by the emergence of shale gas technology, and I think that obviously has had an impact. Obviously, the regulations that have been put on coal have also had an impact, but I don’t see coal going away here in the United States at all. As I mentioned, the Clean Power Plan looks towards 2030, when coal will still be 27 percent of the electricity mix here in the U.S. So it’s still playing a very big role in providing affordable and reliable energy here in the United States and I think it will continue to do so for a long time. The mix will change, obviously, but coal is not going away here in the U.S. as it’s not going away in Europe and in many other countries as well. It’s just playing a — perhaps a different role, but it’s playing a very big role throughout the emerging and developing economies in Asia.

Monica Trauzzi: What do you make of the growing global trend around fossil fuel divestments?

Benjamin Sporton: What concerns me, I guess, about fossil fuel divestment is the fact that it can risk investment in cleaner technologies. So the International Energy Agency has really made clear for their 2 degrees scenario that we need $1.9 trillion of investment in cleaner coal technology. That includes high-efficiency, low-emissions coal and carbon capture and storage. If we have companies and businesses divesting from coal, I think that threatens the investment that we need in that cleaner coal technology to meet our 2 degree target.

Monica Trauzzi: We’ll end it right there. Very interesting conversation.

Benjamin Sporton: Thanks very much.

Monica Trauzzi: Thank you for coming on the show, I appreciate it.

Benjamin Sporton: Thank you.

Monica Trauzzi: And thanks for watching. We’ll see you back here tomorrow.

Read the rest of the article here.

Clean Power Plan Will Kill More Montana Jobs

Via The Billings Gazette

October 04, 2015 7:00 pm

As you know, coal is big part of many people’s lives here in Montana. It powers our homes, schools and essential services all across our state and America for that matter. You may also be aware of the EPA’s latest assault on the coal industry, in the form of the Clean Power Plan. Welt this time another Washington office is out to get the coal industry with another stringent regulation designed to punish the most reliable power generator we have in America today: the Stream Protection Rule from the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM for short).

The Stream Protection Rule, also being referred to as the buffer zone rule, is a rule in search of a problem. This is yet another piece of unnecessary and undue regulation being leveled at the coal industry for one purpose — to advance this administration’s “green” policy initiatives. Here are the facts: This regulation will be yet another job-killing regulation for the coal industry. OSM’s own internal analysis showed that more than 7,000 miners would lose their jobs in 22 states. An independent study showed losses far worse, with job losses approaching 80,000. This is another blow that the coal industry does not need to suffer. In addition to the job losses, the OSM rule would put valuable coal reserves off-limits, throttling the production of coal to force utilities to look to other energy sources for power generation.

This regulation is just another shot at the industry that has been providing reliable, affordable electricity to millions of homes throughout America. Forcing utilities to look elsewhere for power will only cost people their livelihoods and raise electric rates.

Greg Kohn

Read the full article here.

EPA Clean Power Plan Oversteps Federal Authority

Via The Ledger Independent

October 02, 2015 11:22 am TERRY JARRETT

The quest for cleaner energy is one of the great challenges of the 21st Century, and has fueled many “green” initiatives in recent years. But something troubling is coming down the pike now that the Obama Administration has announced its new “Clean Power Plan” (CPP). In a full-speed-ahead quest to lower carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power plants, the new rules being implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency rules raise troubling legal issues.

For starters, the EPA, which has never previously demonstrated any expertise in regulating America’s vast power grid, will begin to shut down coal plants under a vague authority derived from the Clean Air Act. Essentially, coal, the most affordable and abundant fuel used to generate electricity in the U.S.—and which currently generates about 40 percent of the nation’s power supply—will be phased out in favor of higher priced and less reliable wind and solar.

The problem, as legal experts are now pointing out, is that the EPA plan oversteps federal authority. Harvard University Constitutional Law Professor Laurence Tribe, who is generally a supporter of the president’s agenda, told Congress earlier this year the plan exceeds the EPA’s authority under federal law. According to Professor Tribe, the CPP makes states unacceptably subservient to Washington on energy and environmental matters because it “invades state regulatory control in an unprecedented manner” that “raises grave constitutional questions that the Act must be construed to avoid.”

How exactly is the EPA overreaching its authority? As Professor Tribe explains, the EPA will force states to adopt policies that will raise energy costs, a blunt approach that runs counter to the mandates of many state energy commissions. The EPA rules are deceptive, too, in that they claim to provide states with a “choice” in devising new energy approaches. As Professor Tribe notes, there is little real choice when state policies are in fact compelled by the EPA: “Such sleight-of-hand offends democratic principles by avoiding political transparency and accountability.”

The EPA doesn’t recognize this conflict of interest, unfortunately. As EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said recently, “We’re particularly interested in making sure states and utilities can achieve emissions reductions along a flexible glide path so that they can meet their targets.”

Far from being flexible, the CPP simply seizes the authority long held by states to regulate their power systems. And what’s being imposed is disturbing because it could lead to heavy-handed plant closures in states that currently rely on coal for everyday living.

Not only are wind and solar intermittent sources of energy—the wind doesn’t always blow, the sun doesn’t always shine—but the coal plants on the chopping block have continually proven their durability and reliability in supplying robust electricity. As the EPA shuts down these high-performing coal plants, the reliability and affordability of electricity in many states will become victims to a misguided, one-size-fits-all agenda. Consumers will thus pay higher electric bills while facing potential blackouts during peak usage.

Which brings us to the push-back emerging from states as they realize their authority to structure internal energy supply is being usurped by Washington. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has issued an executive order directing that her state will not comply with “such a clear overreach of federal authority.” Indiana Governor Mike Pence has made the same declaration regarding a policy he believes “will drive up electricity prices without any discernible impact on global carbon dioxide emissions.”

All in all, more than 20 states are preparing to join a lawsuit against the EPA’s overreach. Historically, states have established their own energy policies to ensure adequate and reliable service at reasonable prices. But the EPA’s vast federal bureaucracy faces no such mandate. Instead, it seeks to impose a heavy-handed “solution” that will likely dismantle decades of carefully managed, localized energy regulation. This poses a troubling and expensive problem for working class America, and state governors should reject such unwise federal mismanagement.

Terry M. Jarrett is an attorney with Healy Law Offices, LLC in Jefferson City, MO., and a former commissioner of the Missouri Public Service Commission.

See full article here.

Capito Questions Cost of Clean Power Plan

Via West Virginia MetroNews

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — States like West Virginia have a steep hill to climb to meet the requirements of the U.S. EPA clean power plan. During a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, U.S. Senator Shelly Moore Capito quizzed the EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe about some of the details included in the plan.

“I’m sure you’re aware many governors are simply considering not submitting a state plan for compliance, would that trigger a federal implementation plan in 2016 or 2018?,” Capito said.

“The Clean Air Act says if the state doesn’t put forward a plan then EPA should step in and do a federal plan,” said McCabe. “It would be when a state fails to meet a requirement under the rule.”

The economic impact of the Clean Power Plan was the subject of the meeting. McCabe defended the plan and its cost.

“We found by 2030 the average cost of a person’s electric bill would go down by about seven percent as a resulted of increased efficiency in energy coming into the system,” said McCabe.

Capito wasn’t convinced.

“Right now we have 430,000 low and middle income people in West Virginia who’s take home pay is $1,900 a month. They spend 17 percent of their take home money to pay for their energy,” Capito said. “When this goes up, say 20 percent, this is going to have a cost to them, a human cost to them.”

Capito also didn’t buy McCabe’s answers regarding the slight cost elevation to clean the atmosphere.

“I would take exception to that, If it goes up 20 percent and you’re bringing home $1,900. That’s a significant amount,” she said.

Despite questions about the plan, EPA showed no signs of stopping or slowing progress on the measure which is presently being implemented.

See full article here.

The EPA, West Virginia, and The Looming 20 Percent Hike In Energy Costs

Via Town Hall:

If there is one regulatory onslaught that is not really being talked about much on the campaign trail, or in the debates, it’s the Obama administration’s clean power plan. As I’ve written in other posts, it seems to unfairly impact states that voted for Romney in 2012, it places fixed-income seniors in dire financial straits, and puts a target on the back of rural America. No part of the country understands the looming burden than coal country.

Yesterday Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) questioned what amounts to a huge increase in the cost of living for over 400,000 people living in her state. Energy costs are projected to increase 20 percent, though the Environmental Protection Agency’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, Janet McCabe, said the plan would decrease energy costs by seven percent for the average American:

Right now we have 430,000 low and middle income people in West Virginia who’s take home pay is $1,900 a month. They spend 17 percent of their take home money to pay for their energy,” Capito said. “When this goes up, say 20 percent, this is going to have a cost to them, a human cost to them.”Capito also didn’t buy McCabe’s answers regarding the slight cost elevation to clean the atmosphere.

“I would take exception to that, if it goes up 20 percent and you’re bringing home $1,900. That’s a significant amount,” she said.

If states don’t have their plans that accommodate the goals of the EPA’s clean power plan, then a federal one will be implemented. Some governors are considering or openly stating they will refuse to comply with these burdensome new standards. In Minnesota, Republicans in the state House have sent a letter to state Attorney General Lori Swanson and Governor Mark Dayton–both Democrats–to challenge the EPA’s incoming regulations. Additionally, three Minnesota power companies have said they’re expecting to increase their ratessince they rely on coal powered plants for electricity. The power plant regulations alone from the EPA have 300,000 jobs on the chopping block. It will also adversely affect black and Hispanics in the country, where millions of jobs could be gutted from these communities.

Also, the EPA and the Obama administration aren’t fooling anyone regarding electrical costs, they’re expecting them to go up, so the seven percent reduction talking point is just cute.

See the article here.