Monthly Archives: November 2015

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

President Obama, Have Pity on the Working Man

Via Breitbart.com:

Leading up to the meeting, the president recently announced a “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) to curb carbon dioxide emissions from America’s power plants. Such an effort may bolster the president’s credentials as a climate leader. But his plan requires a staggering transformation of America’s power sector that is simply too costly to implement.

Under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the president’s new CPP rules mandate a 32 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants by 2030. To accomplish this, the plan would shut down roughly 40 percent of America’s coal-fired power generation. And the end result of such a massive undertaking would be— get ready for this— a theoretical lowering of global temperatures by 0.02 degrees Celsius by 2100.

Essentially, President Obama’s plan will accomplish nothing to solve global warming. But while the president’s commitment might impress climate change advocates, the overall price tag should greatly trouble America’s working families.

According to a new study by Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA), by 2030 the CPP will have Americans paying $214 billion more for wholesale electricity. While 46 states will experience double-digit increases in wholesale electricity prices, 16 states will face an even greater price increase of 25 percent or more.

As EVA reports, the bills for the CPP will officially start to come due in 2022, when consumers will have to pay an additional $15 billion a year for electricity. By 2030, they’ll be paying $31 billion more each year – an overall increase of 21 percent. And then there’s the cost to replace the current fleet of clean-coal power plants— an additional $64 billion expense that will undoubtedly be passed on to consumers.

EPA says replacing affordable sources of electricity (like coal) with far costlier sources (like wind and solar) will somehow lower electricity costs, but the numbers just don’t add up.

Coal currently generates about 40 percent of the nation’s electricity, whereas intermittent sources including wind and solar currently contribute less than 5 percent. The CPP would impose a nationwide mandate to generate 28 percent of electrical power from wind turbines and solar panels by 2030. Accomplishing this would require the construction of not only 125,000 giant new windmills but also hundreds of additional gigawatts of conventional back-up plants. And then there are the thousands of miles of new high-voltage transmission lines that will be needed to deliver this alternate power.

Most American families expect, and many low-income families rely on, affordable electricity to balance their budget.  But it’s exactly this affordable, coal-generated electricity that the administration now wants Americans to give up.

Overall, the cost of the CPP falls hardest on low-income and middle-class families. Today about half of all American households pay close to 20 percent of their disposable income on energy-related expenses. The CPP will force them to pay more. And so, the same federal agency that claims global warming is hurting the world’s poor will now be hurting more of America’s hard-working families in an effort to stop global warming.

Essentially, the CPP will accomplish nothing meaningful in terms of global warming, even as it imposes billions of dollars in higher electricity costs here in the U.S. America’s consumers should not have to pay for such a poorly conceived plan, and states should reject it.

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.

Obama Takes His Reckless Energy Plan to the United Nations

Via The Washington Post: 

By Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, is majority leader of the U.S. Senate.
It would obviously be irresponsible for an outgoing president to purport to sign the American people up to international commitments based on a domestic energy plan that is likely illegal, that half the states have sued to halt, that Congress has voted to reject and that his successor could do away with in a few months’ time.

But that’s just what President Obama is proposing to do at a U.N. climate conference in Paris starting Monday. The president’s international negotiating partners at that conference should proceed with caution before entering into an unattainable deal with this administration, because commitments the president makes there would rest on a house of cards of his own making.

It’s worth remembering how we got here.

President Obama assumed office with smashing majorities in both houses of Congress. Democrats used the opportunity to pass one left-wing policy after the next. But even with the left at its generational zenith, the president could not persuade his party to pass an anti-middle class energy tax that would have punished the poor and shipped more American jobs overseas.

This frustrated Obama. When the American people voted to strip his party of congressional control, he was frustrated further. So he decided to impose a similarly regressive energy policy, his so-called Clean Power Plan , by executive fiat. Obama’s Harvard Law School mentor, Professor Laurence Tribe, has likened this to “burning the Constitution.”

While the president has tried his best to dress this ideological attack on the middle class as “climate policy,” in reality it could increase emissions by offshoring American manufacturing to countries that lack our environmental standards.

What his power plan will do is unfairly punish Americans who can least afford it. It could result in the elimination of as many as a quarter of a million U.S. jobs. It could raise energy costs in more than 40 states, with double-digit increases in states such as my home state of Kentucky.

Predictably, the president’s attack on the middle class — one that won’t even meaningfully affect global carbon emissions — has received loud applause from wealthy left-wingers who just want to pat themselves on the back for “doing something.” Lost jobs or higher energy bills may be a mere trifle for some on the left, but it’s a different story for a senior citizen on a fixed income or for a working mom who struggles paycheck to paycheck.

Few expect this anti-middle class power plan to last much beyond the months remaining in Obama’s term though. The courts appear likely to strike it down, the next president could tear it up, more than half of the 50 states have filed suit against it, and — critically — a bipartisan majority in both chambers of Congress just approved legislation to expressly reject it.

That bipartisan opposition in Congress remains even if Obama tries to veto the legislation we passed. So it wouldn’t make much sense to ask Congress to allocate resources for global commitments predicated on a plan the president went around Congress to impose — nor would it make sense for Obama to try to make those commitments in the first place.

Let’s not forget that just a few months ago the administration unveiled what it hailed as a landmark carbon-reduction deal with China. The deal bound the hands of American workers without asking much of China in return. It turns out China cheated and underreported its annual coal consumption by 600 million tons, a single revision equivalent to 70 percent of the coal used in our country in a year.

Just think about the scale of that for a moment.

It’s unclear what the president hopes to achieve at this U.N. conference, given that Secretary of State John F. Kerry recently said that there are “not going to be legally binding reduction targets” and that large countries including Japan have echoed the sentiment. But this much is clear. We know that the president is concerned with his legacy, and we know that he often prioritizes symbolism over substance. If Obama thinks it’s okay to push a power plan that threatens working families for the benefit of, at best, a carbon rounding error, then he should say so.

But Congress and more than half of the states have already made clear that he won’t be speaking for us. The courts will also continue working to determine if this power plan is legal.

These are things we will all keep in mind as the U.N. conference commences.

 

See the article here.

EPA Regulations To Cause Double-Digit Electricity Price Increases In Nearly Every State

Via The Daily Caller: 

People should enjoy the relatively low electricity prices while they can this Thanksgiving season, because nearly every state could see double-digit increases in electricity rates due to federal regulations forcing coal plants to retire, according to two separate studies.

Two new studies by Energy Ventures Analysis and NERA Economic Consulting claim the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan will raise electricity prices in every state it covers, with nearly all of them seeing prices increase 10 to 25 percent by the 2030s.

“Forty-six states will face double digit increases in wholesale electricity cost when the CPP is fully implemented in 2030, with 16 states projected to experience a 25+ percent increase,” according to EVA’s report that was done on behalf of the National Mining Association.

NERA’s study found that “40 states could have average retail electricity price increases of 10% or more” and “17 states could have average retail electricity price increases of 20% or more.” Another “10 states could have average retail electricity price increases of 30% or more,” according to NERA’s study, financed by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan limits carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants in the hopes of achieving 32 percent reductions by 2030. It’s the key regulation of President Barack Obama’s global warming agenda and one way he’s trying to prove to the world the U.S. is serious about tackling global warming.

But Obama’s global warming efforts could cost Americans dearly, if the EVA and NERA studies are correct. EPA says the CPP will only cost $8.4 billion per year and cause electricity prices to surge 5 percent by 2030. The agency claims the CPP will yield $26 billion to $45 billion in net health and climate benefits from fewer power plants.

The rule will also force coal-fired power plants to shut their doors, causing coal production to collapse by 25 percent — taking with it as many as 34,000 coal industry jobs by 2030.

Those impacts have states worried, which is why 26 states are suing the EPA, along with business groups and labor unions, to get the rule struck down in the courts. EVA estimates the CPP could cost Americans an “additional $214 billion for electricity between 2022 and 2030.”

NERA found the CPP could result in “expenditures increases between $29 and $39 billion [per year] from 2022 to 2033. During this time” losses to U.S. consumers range from $64 billion to $79 billion on a present value basis over the same time period” as the economy slows down under the weight of higher energy prices.

Obama says the CPP is necessary to getting other countries, like China, to agree to a treaty to cut carbon dioxide emissions on a global scale.

But Republican lawmakers and dozens of states have warned Obama his plans for a global climate treaty could be undone in the courts.

“There are significant legal limits on (President Obama’s) ability either to carry out the promises he has made in advance of Paris 2015 or to enforce any agreement arising out of the summit,” Attorneys General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia and Ken Paxton of Texas .

“When it comes to the financing, I know that a lot of people over there, the 192 countries, are going to assume that Americans are going to line up and joyfully pay $3 billion into this fund,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe said in hearing Thursday. “But that’s not going to happen either.”

See the article here. 

Congress Can Cool Off Obama’s Climate Plans

Via The Wall Street Journal: 

When the U.N. climate-change talks convene in Paris next week, the risks will be high for American taxpayers. President Obama wants a climate deal and is willing to pay dearly to get it. The inevitable outcome is a plan with unproven benefits and unreachable goals, but very real costs. It will be up to Congress to check the president’s ambition of committing the U.S. to an international green scheme that will produce little or no return.

The ostensible goal of the Paris talks (Nov. 30-Dec. 11) is to convince countries to commit to enacting laws that reduce carbon emissions. That fits President Obama’s vision of a world without fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. The American people oppose these policies, but the president has shown himself determined to circumvent Congress.

The Obama administration has already imposed burdensome regulations—for instance, the sprawling Clean Power Plan aimed at wiping out the coal industry—that will raise the cost of energy and put hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work. Now the president wants his negotiators to use these international climate talks to pile on more restrictions.

Opinion Journal Video

Editorial Board Member Joe Rago on why the November confab is likely to fail, and why developed countries have better solutions to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Photo credit: Getty Images.

This pact is as unnecessary as it will be damaging. America’s share of world-wide greenhouse-gas emissions has been declining for more than a decade, to 13% today from 24% in 2000. China pumps out 23% of the world’s emissions. Emissions from India, which account for 6%, are expected to triple between 2010 and 2030.

In an agreement with China, President Obama has already pledged to reduce America’s net greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 25% by 2025. In return, China has agreed to “peak” its carbon-dioxide emissions in 2030. In other words, the U.S. will have to make drastic emissions reductions immediately, while China is allowed to carry on for the next 15 years.

Todd Stern, the chief American negotiator heading to Paris, has tried to justify the disconnect. Mr. Stern recently told the Senate that developing countries need to be allowed to keep emitting so that their economies can continue to grow by 8%-9% a year. “If you’re an economy which is growing at eight or nine percent a year because that’s the stage of development you’re in,” he testified, “it’s pretty hard to say you’re supposed to slam on the brakes and go negative overnight.”

Why should the U.S. accept a plan—and pay to grease the deal—that keeps its economy stuck at 2% growth while American taxpayers subsidize other countries’ economies growing at 9%?

Almost as bad is that President Obama will likely pledge $3 billion of taxpayers’ money to the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund. Developing nations are eager to accept this cash, which in theory they will use to address the effects of extreme weather. It seems more likely that the money will end up in the pockets of government officials in Africa, Asia and elsewhere.

If President Obama and the experts in Paris want to help the developing world, they should focus on things that actually will do good, rather than those that will make the negotiators feel good. They could start by helping these countries tap their own energy resources. Building power plants would do more to lift people out of poverty than the Green Climate Fund ever will.

The envoys in Paris should understand: Congress does not support the president’s $3 billion promise. Earlier this year Mr. Obama requested in his budget the first $500 million installment. That budget was voted down 98-1. Congress should continue to reject this spending and insist that any agreement reached in Paris be subject to Senate approval—regardless of whether or not the administration formally calls it a treaty.

Whatever comes of the Paris talks, there is reason to be wary. We’ve seen the Obama administration’s negotiating skills. Anyone who watched the Iran nuclear agreement play out has good reason to be nervous about the concessions this administration will make in closed-door negotiations.

Consider that Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly bankrolled environmental causes in Europe to stop fossil-fuel exploration. It is a cynical ploy to stifle competition so that he can continue to hold Europe hostage to Russian energy exports. Yet President Obama seems to be playing into Mr. Putin’s plans.

Other countries will gladly support a deal that transfers money to them while weakening the U.S. They are sure to praise President Obama’s “leadership” in the process. The question is whether the American people—and Congress—will allow such a deal to slip by, or whether they will stand up and be heard.

Mr. Barrasso, a Republican, represents Wyoming in the U.S. Senate.

See the article here.

New EPA Rules Would Dismantle State Plans for Energy Supply

Via The Delco 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.” In a full-speed-ahead quest to lower carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power plants, the administration is implementing new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 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 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 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 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. 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., a former commissioner of the Missouri Public Service Commission, and previously served on the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

See the article here.

Energy Chief: Electricity Prices Will Jump 25% Under Obama Plan

Via The Washington Examiner:

“What a glorious mess is being created in America,” Murray plans to say at Thursday’s Texas Public Policy Foundation’s second annual At the Crossroads: Energy & Climate Policy Summit. “President Obama is the greatest destroyer and enemy of available, reliable, affordable electricity that the United States has ever seen,” added Murray, one of the industry’s chief critics of Obama’s war on coal.

The speech, provided in advance to Secrets, is one of several at the summit expected to hit Obama’s planned participation at a global climate change conference in Paris this week where he is expected to push his Clean Power Plan, rejected this week in a ceremonial Senate vote.

Murray assailed the plan and charged that the administration has provided little evidence that it would improve the environment. Instead, he said, the president and Democrats have their eye on taking over the nation’s power source.

“I call what is occurring ‘a political power grab of America’s power grid.’ If a political movement wants to achieve central government control concentrated in Washington, D.C., then get control of the availability, reliability, and cost of electricity and put the United States Environmental Protection Agency in charge of it. The administration is totally bypassing the states and their utility commissions in this process, and, of course, their political power grab has nothing to do with the environment,” he charged.

He cited studies showing that the Obama plan shift to wind and solar power will cost users up to 25 percent more. “The CPP will increase wholesale electricity prices by $214 billion between 2022 and 2030, and yield double digit price increases in 45 states, and over 25 percent increases in 16 states. It will cost an additional $64 billion to replace the lost power capacity to 24 million homes due to the elimination of another 41 gigawatts of coal-fired electricity,” he warned.

He also said that the president’s bid to please “elites” will cost thousands of jobs.

“Mr. Obama’s actions are a human issue to me, as I know the names of many of the Americans whose jobs and family livelihoods are being destroyed as he appeases his radical environmentalist, liberal elitist, Hollywood character, some unionist, and other constituents. These Americans, you see, are my employees,” said Murray.

His Ohio-based company is the nation’s largest coal mine operator.

Murray brushed aside Democratic claims that global warming is going kill, mocking an EPA claim that the ocean levels have raised 0.3 millimeters. That, he said, is “the thickness of three sheets of paper.”

And, he warned, if the administration doesn’t win on killing coal with the Clean Power Plan, it will do it through regulations, which he said are already at historic levels.

“Regulations from the Obama EPA alone now total over 25 million words, 38 times more than those in our Holy Bible,” he said.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.

See the article here. 

Take an Honest Look at the Pain EPA will Cause in North Dakota

Via Inforum: 

Dean Hulse recently took Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., to task (letter, Forum, Nov. 10) for sponsoring a resolution of disapproval of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. He notes, however, that EPA’s plan to reduce carbon dioxide would account for some measure of pain on North Dakota. So let’s look at the pain and then benefits and see if our junior senator’s efforts are in fact misguided.

Here’s some of what we would lose if the state is forced to close coal-based power plants in favor of intermittent sources, such as wind and solar, under EPA’s plan:

  • We lose reliable power.
  • We lose valuable crop land by siting more wind farms and transmission lines.
  • We lose low-cost electricity.
  • We lose jobs – thousands of permanent jobs at the mines and plants. If you don’t believe me, look at a wind farm and try to locate the cars and pickups of the people who work there.
  • We lose tax revenue to our states and towns as the lignite industry is taxed twice – once for the coal that is severed and again for the power that’s produced.
  • We lose discretionary income that will now be spent on higher-cost electricity and products impacted by less affordable power, such as food, clothing, medical care and others.
  • We lose families and towns as people relocate due to a shortage of jobs and/or a shortage of electricity to produce goods – not to mention the Bakken that requires more and more 24/7 power to run oil pumps and pipelines.

So what do we gain? Nothing really, because any fraction of a reduction in CO2 produced in the U.S. by crippling our economy will be more than made up by countries around the world that want to feed their people and desire a better, healthier life.

Recently, an official with the U.S. Energy Department said at a meeting in Bismarck that the Obama administration doesn’t speak to energy officials in India because they are at polar opposites when it comes to coal. The decisions made now will have long-term consequences to our state’s economy and our national security.

Heitkamp’s efforts to be a bipartisan leader in the U.S. Senate by objecting to the EPA’s “go-it-alone” plan appears to represent the majority of North Dakotans.

Piatz is with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 647.

See the article here.

Study: EPA’s Clean Power Plan Could Lead to Closure of Colstrip Plants

Via The Missoulian: 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, if enacted, could lead to the closure of the four-unit power-generating station in Colstrip, according to a study released last week by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.

“If you look at the emissions of Colstrip and the amount of tonnages that Montana has to eliminate, it does not mathematically show that Colstrip has to go. But it clearly indicates that it’s going to affect Colstrip in some way,” said Patrick Barkey, BBER’s director and the lead author of the report.

The EPA released the final rule for the plan on reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the beginning of August. States must submit plans to reduce emissions from new and existing power producers.

According to the report, Montana must reduce those emissions by 47 percent, a figure from the EPA’s own calculations, by 2030. That’s the highest of any state.

In the scenario Barkey studied, it wouldn’t make sense to operate the plant with only one and a half units.

Barkey said the options for Montana to comply are limited, but some include purchasing credits on the market. That would be complicated by how the markets are set up.

It would end Montana’s status as an exporter of energy, he said, which would have ripple effects. Montana State University, for instance, buys its electricity on the open market and is given a discount because of the surplus. If Colstrip closes, “that discount goes away,” he said.

In addition to the potential closure of Colstrip, compliance “will also require significant new investment in replacement generation assets, as well as in the transmission system improvement necessary to support them. As the regulation rolls out nationwide, it will significantly impact the price of wholesale and retail electric power.”

Barkey said one takeaway from the report is “the special role that Colstrip plays in both our economy and our power grid. It’s got more links to western Montana than you realize,” he said.

The BBER report also calculated economic losses within three years of the plan’s enactment if Colstrip were to close:

  • The state would lose more than 7,000 jobs, including positions at the four units of the Colstrip plant in addition to the coal mine and local government jobs created by property taxes from those entities.
  • The state would lose more than $500 million in yearly income, factoring in the higher-paying jobs that would disappear.
  • Lose more than $1.5 billion in gross annual sales as the state moves from its status as an energy exporter to an importer.
  • See a population loss of approximately 10,000 people as families seek jobs out of state.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., criticized the EPA plan.

“This report reaffirms what Montanans have long known: Montanans can’t afford President Obama’s anti-coal agenda and this could be the biggest economic impact in Montana in decades. President Obama’s job-killing, anti-affordable energy regulations will devastate significant parts of Montana’s economy and likely shutter the Colstrip power plant,” he said.

***

Critics of the study, which was commissioned by NorthWestern Energy, say that it uses flawed assumptions.

University of Montana economics professor Tom Power said the report “earns a big red F and shouldn’t serve as the basis of any policy decision. It is based exclusively on extreme assumptions about the Montana impacts of the Clean Power Plan regulations that NorthWestern told the authors of the report to use.”

He said other utilities, which own 90 percent of the Colstrip plants, aren’t making similar claims, and that Colstrip 1 and 2 have been in line for decommissioning for years.

Power also noted that the state of Montana, not NorthWestern, will develop Montana’s plan for meeting the Clean Power Plan’s objectives of reducing the state’s contribution to carbon pollution.

He said the EPA tasked states with generating their own plans for meeting the targets, and that Montana has only recently assembled a committee to do so.

He argues that the closure of the Corette power plant, plus Colstrip 1 and 2, plus the MDU Resources coal-fired power station near Sidney would “get us where we had to go.”

In addition, he said the EPA will allow states to meet requirements by boosting renewables, increased energy efficiency and purchasing carbon allowances.

“All you need is a pencil and the back of an envelope and some basic knowledge of the electric energy infrastructure to know what BBER assumed and what NorthWestern assumed has nothing to do with reality,” he said.

Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, issued a statement as well.

“The federal government’s decision to penalize Montana more than any other state was wrong, but we do not agree that this report is the only window into what Montana’s future looks like.

“We all know Colstrip plays an important role in Montana, and that’s why we need to work together as Montanans, to develop a solution that protects consumers and our economy while also addressing the threat of climate change.”

See the article here.

The EPA’s Plan to Destroy N. Dakota’s Coal Industry

Via The Dickinson Press: 

The middle-aged man next to me said, “I’m going to lose my job at the mine.”

 The big room at the Bismarck State College Energy Center was filled to standing room only for the public meeting explaining the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. Job loss for North Dakota workers was in the plan — it is clear that our EPA workers in Washington, D.C., are willing to sacrifice jobs for their agenda – but not their jobs, of course.

It was a very controlled and civilized meeting on Monday night, Nov. 16; the bad news had already been laid out at Beulah a few nights prior.

The EPA mandate says they want a 45 percent reduction in CO2 emissions as North Dakota’s contribution to its plan, and they want us to write out the path to our own demise. They, the EPA, are not taking ownership — it will be our plan — so the young man next to me can blame his job loss on his North Dakota neighbor.

What are we thinking? The nation’s economy has been in the ditch for seven years, and we are closing good mines and causing the shutdown of electric power plants, some not yet paid for. Do we just shut them down? Do we let them stand on the land like gravestones for the next generations to gaze at in wonderment? Or will their vision be cluttered with thousands of wind towers that were erected to replace them? Those also shut down as environmentalists wept over the millions of bird carcasses?

Unintended consequences? Dare we ask? When the switch is flipped in the EPA building in Washington, will the light come on?

See the article here.

Controversy Grows Over EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Via The Pittsburgh Business Times: 

Controversy is mounting over the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

The plan is designed to reduce carbon outputs from power plants and thereby reduce the United States’ impact on global climate change. But its regulatory requirements will force serious changes to occur among those connected to major forms of electrical power generation. Those with an interest in coal and manufacturing, for example, will be greatly impacted.

U.S. Senate Republicans took their ire to congress Tuesday, voting to block the Clean Power Plan from existence.President Obama has said he’ll veto the block and force it into law anyway, but that hasn’t stopped industries from making their voices heard.

In Pennsylvania, that’s being done by many people and groups, but Wednesday in particular, it was done by the National Mining Association. The NMA released ” EPA’s Clean Power Plan: An Economic Impact Analysis.” Among the group’s findings:

  • Pennsylvania’s wholesale power costs will increase by 26 percent;
  • Consumers in Pennsylvania will have paid an additional $9.1 billion for electricity; and
  • Pennsylvania will have an average annual increase of $7,888 in wholesale industrial electricity costs

The report is gloomy — and contends that the world will get much more expensive and generally gloomier if the Clean Power Plan goes forward: not only will power cost more, but the effects of the plan won’t help mitigate climate change much at all.

EPA’s “costly power plan,” the report concludes, “forces Americans to forfeit their low cost electricity to serve EPA’s purpose of transforming the nation’s electric grid.” Whatever the EPA’s claims, it continues, “the financial impact of the (Clean Power Plan) for all consumers of electricity will be significant and should be carefully weighed as states consider how to proceed.”

Dr. Stephen Herzenberg, economist and executive director of the Keystone Research Center, and Jan Jarrett, energy and environmental expert and consultant to KRC, had some thoughts on the report. Among them:

In Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection “has just finished 14 listening sessions held all around the state to gather input on how to comply with the CPP goals,” the two KRC experts wrote to the Business Times. “A public comment period ended on Nov. 12, and DEP is compiling them. Further public comment opportunities will be available when DEP issues its draft plan.”

“States are just at the beginning stages of developing their CPP plans,” the two KRC experts continued. “It is remarkable that the National Mining Association is able to project the economic impact of plans that don’t actually exist.”

In a letter responding to the NMA report, the KRC experts point out:

  • The NMA report “appears to have made very conservative assumptions about technological change, which will drive down the price of electricity from renewable energy and natural gas, as well as potentially increase the savings from conservation.”
  • The NMA report is “also pessimistic about technological change with respect to coal, noting that ‘no existing plant in the coal power generation plant’ can meet the standard set by EPA.”
  • The NMA report “completely ignores billions of dollars in health benefits — $12 billion to $34 billion by 2030 due to reductions in power plant pollution that cause ozone and reductions in particulate matter emitted by power plant.”

Read the full NMA report here. Read KRC’s responses here.

See the article here.

War On Coal Projected To Cost Us $650 Billion And 125,800 Jobs

Via Town Hall: 

Obama’s war on coal has hit these communities hard. We all know that. In fact, there is “visceral disgust” for Obama’s environmental policies in the Appalachian counties that have long-supported Democrats since the New Deal. The shift towards the Republican Party was seen in Kentucky when Mitch McConnell easily won re-election over Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes last year. McConnell was able to outperform his 2008 numbers in these coal counties, which contributed to his landslide victory. That trend continued when Matt Bevin, McConnell’s 2014 primary challenger, was elected governor earlier this month, becoming the second Republican to hold that office in four decades.

West Virginia, another coal-producing state, has also gone solidly Republican after decades of being a Democratic bastion. Their energy costs are expected to go up 40 percent under Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which sets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. It’s a regulatory nightmare, a job killer, and a policy that Hillary Clinton plans to continue if she’s elected. But have no fear coal counties; she plans to set aside $30 billion to help these people after she supported polices that have killed off the means in which they make a living.

The American Action Forum has crunched the numbers for the butcher’s bill for coal. The power plant provisions alone will gut 125,800 jobs and the total GDP loss over a ten-year period is $650 billon [emphasis AAF]:

The final rule for the Clean Power Plan (CPP) was released by the Obama Administration this past August and is a direct attack on the coal industry…the final plan, supported by Sec. Clinton, will shutter 66 power plants and eliminate 125,800 jobs in the coal industry. All of these figures are based on EPA data. The same study shows that using the 2012 baseline for coal generation and projections for 2030 output, the industry could shrink by 48 percent.[…]

If 125,800 of these jobs are cut, wages lost will be over $9.8 billion dollars per year. The one-time $30 billion relief fund is a drop in the bucket and unless another industry picks up the slack that means over $90 billion in lost wages over the next 10 years.

[…]

The coal industry contributes nearly $65.7 billion to national GDP. As [sic] evidenced by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, the U.S. is not in a place to lose that type of contribution. Over 10 years, the U.S. will see a loss of over $650 billion dollars.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board added that unemployment in coal-producing eastern Kentucky is over 8 percent, it’s in double-digits in southern West Virginia, and coal production has decreased 15 percent since 2008, with the loss of 50,000 jobs between 2008-2012. They noted that the shale boom has contributed to this decline, but the Obama Environmental Protection Agency’s CPP policy will deliver the deathblow to the industry, along with the notion that it will needlessly destroy American jobs over the non-threat of global warming:

To make up for the job losses, there’s money for high-speed broadband, roads, bridges, water systems, airports, public health centers and renewable energy. Her plan also includes tax credits for investors, funding for arts and culture programs, as well as local food and agriculture businesses.Her political goal is to staunch Democrats’ leaking support among blue-collar communities. Last week Republicans took the Kentucky governorship for only the second time in 44 years. In 2014 the GOP picked up Senate seats in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Iowa, Colorado, West Virginia, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and came close in Virginia. Next year Republicans are defending Senate seats in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois—states President Obama won in 2012 but save for the Land of Lincoln may be in play in the presidential election.

So here we have the progressive policy arc made clear: First destroy coal jobs to please affluent liberals over climate change, then tax all Americans more to buy the support of the workers who had those jobs. How about not destroying the jobs in the first place?

The CPP has targeted rural America, fixed-income seniors, and could gut millions of jobs from the black and Hispanic communities. Americans generally are resigned to the fact that it will increase their electrical costs. At the same time, over half the states are suing the administration over the policy.

See the article here.

America Can’t Afford Obama’s New Energy Plan

Via The Marietta Daily Journal:

President Obama will be leaving soon for a UN conference aimed at tackling global warming. And ahead of this trip, the president has announced a new “Clean Power Plan” to curb carbon dioxide emissions from America’s power plants. Such an effort may bolster the president’s credentials as a climate leader. But his plan requires a staggering transformation of America’s power sector that is simply too costly to implement.

Under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency, the president’s new CPP rules mandate a 32 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants by 2030. To accomplish this, the plan will shut down roughly 40 percent of America’s coal-fired power generation. And the end result of such a massive undertaking will be — ready for this — a theoretical lowering of global temperatures by 0.02 degrees Celsius by 2100.

Essentially, President Obama’s plan will accomplish nothing to solve global warming. But while the president’s commitment might impress climate change advocates, the overall price tag should greatly trouble America’s working families.

According to a new study by Energy Ventures Analysis, by 2030 the CPP will have Americans paying $214 billion more for wholesale electricity. While 46 states will experience double-digit increases in wholesale electricity prices, 16 states will face an even greater price increase of 25 percent or more.

As EVA reports, the bills for the CPP will officially start to come due in 2022, when consumers will have to pay an additional $15 billion a year for electricity. By 2030, they’ll be paying $31 billion more each year — an overall increase of 21 percent. And then there’s the cost to replace the current fleet of clean-coal power plants— an additional $64 billion expense that will undoubtedly be passed on to consumers.

EPA believes that replacing affordable sources of electricity (like coal) with far costlier sources (like wind and solar) will somehow lower electricity costs, but the numbers just don’t add up. Coal currently generates about 40 percent of the nation’s electricity, whereas intermittent sources like wind and solar currently contribute less than 5 percent. The CPP will impose a nationwide mandate to generate 28 percent of electrical power from wind turbines and solar panels by 2030. Accomplishing this would require the construction of not only 125,000 giant new windmills but also hundreds of additional gigawatts of conventional back-up plants. And then there are the thousands of miles of new high-voltage transmission lines that will be needed to deliver this alternate power.

Most American families expect, and many low-income families rely on, affordable electricity to balance their budget. But it’s exactly this affordable, coal-generated electricity that the administration now wants Americans to give up.

Overall, the cost of the CPP falls hardest on low-income and middle-class families. Today about half of all American households pay close to 20 percent of their disposable income on energy-related expenses. The CPP will force them to pay more. And so, the same federal agency that claims global warming is hurting the world’s poor will now be hurting more of America’s hard-working families in an effort to stop global warming.

Essentially, the CPP will accomplish nothing meaningful in terms of global warming, even as it imposes billions of dollars in higher electricity costs here in the U.S. America’s consumers should not have to pay for such a poorly conceived plan, and states should reject it.

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.

We Must Save Colstrip and Block Double-digit Rate Hikes

Via The Great Falls Tribune:

What happens if we lose Colstrip?

“It’ll look like Ground Zero.” That’s what the mayor of Colstrip told me last week. To Colstrip moms like Cheryl Fulkerson, it means her husband and her son may both lose their jobs in the coal industry. And, it means the place that she has called home for 21 years may no longer exist.

I could see the tears in Cheryl’s eyes as she introduced me to local officials and business owners concerned about the future of Colstrip. Even the Realtor told me, “no homes are selling.”

But it’s not just Cheryl and the folks in Colstrip who will pay the price of the Obama carbon plan, or — “the costly power plan” as I call it. The impacts will be devastating across Montana. Double-digit electric rate hikes. Thousands of jobs lost. I wouldn’t be surprised if the state of Montana would end up seeing more than $1 billion in lost economic activity.

Colstrip isn’t the only coal community under attack. Recently, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s appointees on the Montana Board of Environmental Review rejected the expansion of the Signal Peak coal mine south of Roundup in Montana.

Meanwhile, we have state leaders who can’t even clearly state: I am opposed to President Obama’s costly carbon plan and I support the lawsuit to stop it. If you can’t speak clearly in support of Attorney General Tim Fox, then you are standing alongside Barack Obama. We’ve already lost jobs at the Corette coal plant in Billings, and the fact that we even have to be saying the words, “Save Colstrip,” is a failure in state leadership in itself.

While folks may know my background creating hundreds of high-wage high tech jobs here in Montana, and that I’ve been fighting to create even more high wage jobs in Big Sky Country — it is important that we don’t continue to lose the high-wage jobs that we’ve already got. Obama’s plan will shut down high-wage coal mining jobs, and vital communities like Colstrip. We need leaders who will stand up and defend Montana.

Greg Gianforte is an exploratory candidate for governor of Montana. Gianforte created more than 500 high-wage Montana jobs as the founder of RightNow Technologies in Bozeman. He recently toured the state as part of his “Better Montana Jobs Initiative.”

See the article here.

State Should Tread Carefully with Clean Power Plan

Via The Times Leader:

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 led 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 (MATS) 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 reigning in a rogue agency through the introduction of legislation.

The Review Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Lycoming Township, is one such rule designed to stop “high-impact rules” with costs over $1 billion dollars annually from taking effect until court challenges to the regulation have been settled. Over the last decade, the EPA has introduced 19 “high-impact rules” with costs over $90 billion dollars. 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 over $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 the 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, the 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 Department of Environmental Protection still plans to submit the final and federally enforceable plan by the fall of 2016.

The state Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) 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 their 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.

John Pippy is CEO of the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Coal Alliance. For information, visit www.betterwithcoal.com.

See the article here.

Viewpoint: EPA’s Clean Power Plan Will Cost Colorado Consumers and Stunt the State’s Growth

Via The Denver Business Journal: 

Wide-ranging voices—in politics, in business, and those of consumer advocates like our coalition—have been warning of the potentially crippling costs of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s soon-to-be-implemented Clean Power Plan. Its ripple effects will be felt nationwide, and Colorado is by all indications squarely in harm’s way.

As we have contended for some time now, the proposed federal mandate for air standards will impact every type of consumer—residential, small business, agricultural and industrial—in every community in Colorado. That includes consumers served by public utilities, municipal providers and rural cooperatives. And the changes to Colorado’s statewide power generation contemplated by the EPA’s mandates may ultimately cost many billions of dollars.

Rather than heed or, at least, consider some of these urgent concerns, however, defenders of the oncoming juggernaut have sought in many cases to dismiss the criticism as coming from interests that are supposedly too close to the debate. Stakeholders involved in energy development of fossil fuels, for example, or power generation, are accused of having a vested interest and thus, presumably, are less than objective. Fairly or not, policy debates often turn on such considerations.

Well, now, another authoritative voice has entered the fray, and this time it is one without a discernible horse in the race. It is the voice of a truly neutral arbiter—one of the financial world’s “big three” credit-rating agencies—and it is sounding the alarm on the Clean Power Plan.

Fitch Ratings’ new report, “The Carbon Effect 2.0,” released just weeks ago, raises troubling concerns about the impact of the Clean Power Plan on the financial stability of the nation’s electric utilities. More troubling still, in the report’s state-by-state assessment, Colorado is among those facing the most formidable challenges, and potentially steepest costs, in complying with the Draconian EPA rules.

Among the perils facing Colorado, according to the Fitch report?

Our state would be hit 18th hardest in terms of the overall cost of complying with the mandate.

At the same time, the report ranks Colorado as the fourth most expensive in the country for the marginal cost of reducing its carbon output.

Remember, those costs are borne only initially by the power utilities that have to fundamentally retool—shifting away from cost-effective fuels to less efficient and less reliable energy sources—as they jump through the hoops of the Clean Power Plan. Ultimately, those costs are passed on down the line to the end-use consumer, whether it’s a large employer, a mom-and-pop business, a struggling family, an elderly couple on a fixed income or a local-government institution like a public school, which then will have to soak up more tax revenue just to keep the lights on.

More generally, the report notes that “compliance costs remain uncertain” for all states and that the EPA’s widely disseminated estimates of those costs, “…reflect assumptions related to low-cost renewable energy and demand-side energy efficiency that Fitch believes are aggressive.” That’s financial-industry speak for hopeful at best. The report continues, “Should these assumptions…prove overly optimistic, compliance costs could soar.”

Indeed, Colorado and the rest of the country are in a heap of trouble if the EPA’s aggressive assumptions don’t pan out, or they are counting on ratepayers to make up any difference by installing more insulation and perhaps turning down their thermostats.

That is why the recent decision by our state’s attorney general, Cynthia Coffman, to join 23 other states in mounting a legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan is welcome news, not only for constitutional watchdogs wary of a federal overreach, but also for rank-and-file ratepayers. More to the point, as we noted here last week, it amounts to probably the best, and perhaps last, hope for Colorado consumers against the crippling federal mandate and its almost surreal carbon-emission standards.

Permit us to repeat our praise for Coffman and our best wishes for the states’ lawsuit. After all, the news only is getting worse about the likely effect of the Clean Power Plan on Colorado’s consumers and on its economy overall. Only in a Washington bureaucracy does it make any sense; in Colorado, it is a daydream we cannot afford.

See the article here.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan is a Bad Deal for America

Via The Hill:

In 2009, President Obama turned his attention from his campaign victory to a carefully crafted legislative wish list, handed to him by liberal lobbyists and the radical base of the Democratic Party. Among their top priorities were extreme carbon-trading schemes and a war on fossil fuel. Despite the president’s personal popularity, his policy initiatives were met with strong opposition, forcing him to enlist the help of then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Democrats enjoyed sizeable majorities in the House and Senate, and the president was certain he could impose European-style cap-and-tax in America. The American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill, was the cap-and-tax legislation Obama believed would secure him international accolades and a lasting legacy. But the deeply unpopular bill did not make it through the Democrat-controlled Congress, and he went to Copenhagen empty-handed.

Six years later, as he faces the 2015 United Nations Conference on Climate Change, Obama is again seeking legislation to tout internationally. But rather than going through a collaborative process with the states and Congress, he has enlisted the help of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ram through his new cap-and-tax initiative, the Clean Power Plan (CPP.)

Under CPP, the EPA feigns flexibility with rate-based and mass-based plans. If states can completely overhaul their energy policies and submit their compliance plans to the EPA by September 6, 2016, they will receive a rate-based plan. But that leaves states with less than one year to make major changes, and if they are unable to meet deadline, the EPA will implement its unnecessary mass-based cap-and-tax plan, which will be an economic disaster for the United States.

Energy prices are guaranteed to increase under the CPP, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that the initiative will cost American taxpayers $51 billion. Taking into account our crippling $18 trillion national debt, hardworking taxpayers simply cannot afford to pay for another of Obama’s liberal pet projects.

Further, CPP will diminish America’s natural gas industry through its Clean Energy Incentive Program. The program awards early action allowances for investments in wind and solar projects, and is a deceptive way to eliminate natural gas development, even though it is abundant in the United States, produces up to 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal, and could provide millions of jobs and cleaner energy.

The United States is already a world leader on alternative energy, reduced carbon emissions, and global social responsibility. Despite the fact that the European Union implemented a cap-and-tax plan similar to Obama’s CPP in 2005, the United States reduced emissions more rapidly between 2005 and 2012. Congress rejected cap-and-tax because it is bad policy, and the president shouldn’t implement it through executive fiat.

The president is intent on reaching strict emissions agreements in Paris, and any agreement has to include equal commitments from other countries. Considering his appalling track record on international negotiations, I’m concerned that any deal reached will punish the American economy and will not hold other countries accountable.

Obama’s agreement with China is a template for how he’s going to negotiate in Paris. Under his terrible agreement, China agreed to continue increasing their emissions in 2030, while the U.S. cuts emissions. It is clear that he is going to punish the American economy and let China off the hook.

The CPP is a bad deal for America, and the president’s dogged pursuit of this weak policy is nothing more than a tireless pursuit to secure his liberal legacy through executive decision making. In these final months of his presidency, Obama should set aside his selfish ambitions and finally do what’s best for America’s future.

Sensenbrenner represents Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District and has served in the House since 1979. He sits on the Science, Space and Technology and the Judiciary committees.

See the article here.

North Dakota Believes it’s Being Singled Out in EPA Clean Power Plan

Via Prairie Public News: 

Everyone knows North Dakota is an oil state. But it’s the state’s coal industry that’s feeling the heat from the federal Clean Power Plan, which targets carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Under the final version of the plan, North Dakota will have to cut its emissions by 45 percent – more any other state except Montana.

So it’s not surprising many North Dakotans feel they are being singled out for harsh treatment.

On a recent Thursday in November, about 700 of those North Dakotans packed into the gym at the Beulah Civic Center. They were there to show their opposition to the Clean Power Plan. Many had matching T-shirts and wristbands that said, “Coal Keeps North Dakota Strong.”

Others wore ball caps with logos of the coal mines and power plants for which they work. They shuffled through a long line to get a free dinner sponsored by local businesses, grabbing styrofoam cups of coffee and greeting friends.

It felt more like a pep rally for the local high school football team, the Beulah Miners, who would go on to win the state championship the very next day, than an informational meeting about a new federal environmental regulation.

Christie Obenauer was manning the coffee station that evening, but during the day she is the CEO of a local bank where about 75 percent of her customers have some tie to the coal industry. North Dakota isn’t a huge coal producing state – it ranks 9th nationally – but the industry has a big impact locally.

Close to half the students at Beulah High School have at least one parent working at a mine or coal-fired power plant. Obenauer was concerned that if “plants and mines can’t continue to operate as they do now, they (will) shut down or downsize, and people (will) lose their jobs.”

“If you don’t have a farm or ranch to go back to, I can’t imagine what anybody is going to do here,” said Luke Voigt, the business manager for the local Boilermakers union, whose members maintain coal-fired power plants.

But what about the Bakken oil field nearby? Couldn’t laid off coal miners just go work on a drilling rig?

Voigt shook his head. “The Bakken is a job. This is a career.”

The oilfield booms and busts, he explained, just look at what’s happening now. There are only 60 drilling rigs in the state, down from over 180 a year ago. In comparison, coal is stable.

“The oilfield, you go out and make a lot of good money for a while, and they work the snot out of you. But then when they’re done with you, they’re done with you. Where as here, constantly there’s work coming, there’s retirement and good benefits.”

Careers and coal communities – that’s what’s at stake. And it’s not clear yet how either will be impacted. Dave Glatt, head of the North Dakota Department of Environmental Health, is tasked with figuring out how to meet the EPA’s 45 percent emissions reduction target. At the meeting in Beulah, he was upfront with the crowd.

“At the end of the day I’m hopeful the power plants stay open and the coal mines stay open, but I can’t tell you that with 100 percent certainty because I don’t know what that plan is going to look like,” he said.

Glatt is considering turning in a state plan that doesn’t actually meet the 45 percent reduction, but keeps the state’s coal industry intact. It’s a risky strategy, because if the EPA doesn’t like it, they could impose their own plan. And if there’s one thing North Dakotans really hate, it’s being told what to do by the feds, especially when it feels like what they’re being asked to do is unfair.

“They come out here, they have these public hearings, they pretend they’re listening and they pretend they’re paying attention to what it is that we’re saying and we try to reason with them,” said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, “and they ignore us.”

Stenehjem is suing the EPA, along with 26 other states, over what he sees as an overly harsh and illegal final rule. In the draft version, North Dakota only had to cut its emissions by 11 percent. In the final rule, the state’s target more than quadrupled.

“It was like sending your kid off to college and they come back at Christmas and you hardly recognize them anymore,” he said. “And that’s what happened with this rule. It was so totally different from what it was we had commented on.”

Even though he’s trying to change, delay or overturn the regulation, he doesn’t question the science behind it, and says his lawsuit against EPA makes no attempt to deny that humans are contributing to climate change.

“This isn’t a religion, whether you believe in climate change or not, and whether man made emissions contribute to it,” Stenehjem said. “It is either a scientific reality or it isn’t. And I think the consensus among those who are experts on it is that it does. But irrespective of that, it is the reality in the world we are going to have to live with. And we’re going to have to contend with it, and we can do that.”

And that reality means while North Dakota is suing over the plan, the state is also working on a way to comply.

“This reduced carbon future is something we will be talking about today, tomorrow, 10 years from now,” Glatt, with the North Dakota Department of Health, told the audience in Beulah. “So we can put our heads in the sand and say, ‘this is so much BS, and we should just ignore it.’ (But) I don’t think we can. We need to take a hard look at this to see what we can do to make this thing work.”

See the article here.

Jobs and Energy at Stake with CO2 Rules

  • President Obama’s CO2 rules for new and existing power plants are potentially unlawful and will be harmful to the economy.

  • The CO2 rules are another EPA power grab that will devastate America’s energy economy with negligible environmental benefit.

  • The Senate will vote on bipartisan resolutions of disapproval filed by Senators McConnell and Capito to block the CO2 rules.


The Obama administration’s rules governing carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants are potentially unlawful and will be harmful to the economy. They will raise energy prices, threaten electric reliability, eliminate jobs, and destroy economic growth. Twenty-three states have filed lawsuits to block the CO2 rule for new power plants in federal court, and 27 states have filed lawsuits to block the CO2 rule for existing power plants. The Senate will vote on bipartisan Congressional Review Act resolutions of disapproval to block these rules.

Shutting Down Existing Power Plants Causes Economic Pain

The rule for existing power plants is designed to shut down coal-fired plants by requiring states to reduce CO2 emissions from the electricity sector by 32 percent below 2005 levels over the next 15 years. The rule relies heavily on renewables, which currently only provide 5 percent of energy despite significant investments by taxpayers. It eliminates the move toward natural gas that has supported a manufacturing renaissance and created thousands of new jobs across the country.

CO2 Rule Double Digit Price Hikes Map - rates

This month, a NERA Economic Consulting study concluded that all of the lower 48 states will experience higher electricity prices under the CO2 rule for existing power plants. Forty states could experience double-digit electricity price increases. The rule could reduce household spending power by up to $79 billion. The study estimated that compliance costs will total $220 billion to $292 billion from 2022 through 2033. That does not include additional costs for electricity transmission and distribution, or for natural gas infrastructure. The American Action Forum predicted that the rule will eliminate 125,800 jobs across the country.

Barely Measurable Gain

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, using EPA’s methodology, estimated the climate impact of greenhouse gas reductions from the final CO2 rule for existing power plants. In an August report, it predicted that the climate impact will be “meaningless.” In 2050, global average CO2 concentration would be reduced by 0.2 percent, global temperature would be reduced by 0.01 degree Fahrenheit, and sea level rise would be reduced by 0.20 millimeter – the thickness of one or two human hairs.

The EPA estimated that the benefits flowing from the CO2 rule for existing power plants will total $20 billion in 2030. But this projection rests on a rickety foundation: it is based on the administration’s controversial “social cost of carbon” methodology. It counts benefits that would accrue to countries around the globe, not just to the United States. According to a 2014 paper by the Brookings Institution, the EPA’s method for calculating climate benefits represents a “dramatic shift” in policy. In 2010, the administration determined that Americans would only receive 7 to 23 percent of a rule’s climate benefits, but pay 100 percent of a rule’s costs. Applying this estimate to the CO2 rule for existing power plants, Americans will receive climate benefits of only $1.4 billion to $4.6 billion in 2030 versus what the EPA estimated to be compliance costs of $8.4 billion. The remaining $15.4 billion to $18.6 billion in benefits will flow to the rest of the world.

A Legal Avalanche against the Rule

A total of 27 states have filed lawsuits against the rule governing existing power plants. These petitioners and others have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to issue a stay against the rule pending resolution of the lawsuits. The Obama administration opposes a stay. It hopes that if states and businesses have to start complying with the law while the lawsuits proceed, EPA will get its desired result of shutting down power plants even if the administration ultimately loses in court. When the Supreme Court struck down the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule this summer, the agency’s administrator bragged on television that implementation of the rule began “three years ago,” “investments have been made,” and many coal-fired power plants had already been irreversibly shut-down or retrofitted.

Additionally, a coalition of 23 states led by West Virginia has filed a lawsuit to stop the CO2 rule for new power plants.

Climate Buildup before Paris Conference

The CO2 rules for new and existing power plants are just the beginning. Other CO2 rules will target other industries – transportation, manufacturing, buildings, and agriculture. They will not stop at coal and oil either. They will soon target natural gas. The Obama administration signaled its preference to sideline natural gas in a background sheet on the CO2 rule for existing power plants: “In the final rule, that early rush to gas is eliminated.”

The change from the proposed rule, which boosted natural gas, to the final rule, which effectively bypasses the low-carbon fuel, is perplexing. The final rule is less workable. It poses an even more economically, technologically, and commercially problematic puzzle for states and power producers to solve. They must now use fewer reliable, affordable fossil fuels and more unreliable, expensive renewables – all while still guaranteeing electric reliability and affordable electricity.

The administration doubled down on a rule that further handicaps fossil fuels in favor of renewables – and further hurts jobs and energy security – for a reason. Later this month, 196 countries will convene in Paris to enter into final climate negotiations. The Obama administration wants to “show the world that the United States is committed to leading global efforts to address climate change,” as it stated in a fact sheet on the rule. That way, even if the rule does not survive legal or political scrutiny over the long term, it will at least provide the administration with a plausible negotiating tool in the short term.

After seven years of review that yielded five favorable environmental reports, the administration rejected the Keystone XL pipeline – and all of its economic, energy security, and environmental benefits – for no reason other than to send a message to other countries that President Obama is a global “leader” on climate change. The CO2 rules for new and existing power plants are no different. Their most immediate purpose is to serve as a message that President Obama can tout as he seeks to win the approval of his international peers as a global “leader” on climate issues.

Senate Fighting Back

The Senate is not waiting for the courts to stop the rule. Last month, Senators McConnell and Manchin filed S.J. Res. 23, a bipartisan resolution of disapproval to block the CO2 rule for new power plants. Senators Capito and Heitkamp filed S.J. Res. 24, a bipartisan resolution of disapproval to block the CO2 rule for existing power plants.

Both resolutions were filed under the Congressional Review Act. This statute provides fast-track procedures for Senate consideration. Most notably, a resolution of disapproval cannot be filibustered, enabling passage by two simple majority votes – first on the motion to proceed, then on final passage. If a motion to proceed is agreed to, the resolution of disapproval is subject to a maximum of 10 hours of debate before a vote on final passage. Amendments are not permitted. If the Senate and House pass these resolutions, and if the president signs them into law, the CO2 rules will not take effect and cannot be issued in “substantially the same form” as the disapproved rules. The Senate is expected to vote on these resolutions this week.

The CO2 rules are two in a series of executive actions by the Obama administration that will constrain our country’s economic growth. Republicans are working to support Americans who responsibly use our nation’s abundant fossil fuel resources to create economic opportunity. By voting for S.J. Res. 23 and S.J. Res. 24, Republicans and Democrats can work together to protect American families and businesses from the disastrous impacts of the CO2 rules.

See the article here.

Clean Power Plan Will Add $214 Billion to Wholesale Electricity Prices

Washington, D.C. – Refuting the Obama administration’s claim that its Clean Power Plan will be virtually cost free, a new analysis of the regulation shows the president’s policy for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power sector will raise electricity costs significantly for families and businesses throughout the nation.

The analysis, by Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA), finds consumers will pay an additional $214 billion by 2030, with 45 states facing double digit increases in wholesale electricity costs and 16 states saddled with a 25 percent increase or more. Added to this total will be a projected $64 billion bill to replace an estimated 41,000 MW of power plant capacity that will be forced to close, enough to power 24 million homes.

The analysis, commissioned by the National Mining Association (NMA),
identifies the flaws in the CPP that ignore actual costs likely to result from replacing existing power plants using affordable fuel with plants using costlier fuel sources.

The findings demonstrate EPA has substantially understated the CPP’s costs to consumers in at least three ways:

• First, by failing to acknowledge the higher cost of natural gas required to replace the coal generation displaced in base load power.

• Second, by failing to recognize the cost impact on industrial and other natural gas customers who are outside the power sector.

• Third, by failing to fully account for the costs that consumers will pay for new power generation and transmission infrastructure necessary to replace coal generation that will be prematurely retired by the rule.

“EVA’s findings, together with a recent study by NERA, confirm the penalty that millions of consumers will pay for a policy that lacks congressional approval or environmental benefit,” said NMA CEO and President Hal Quinn. “The findings of both studies show there are no affordable choices for states under EPA’s costly power plan.”

In an attempt to transform the nation’s electricity system under the Clean Air Act, EPA mandates a 32 percent cut in U.S. CO2 emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels. To accomplish this, the CPP would displace 40 percent of total U.S. coal-fired power generation, but reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by less than 1 percent and global temperatures by 0.02 degrees Celsius by 2100.

While the benefits that EPA claims are doubtful, Quinn said the financial impact of the CPP for all consumers of electricity are not in doubt. “Governors should carefully weigh these costs before committing their states to this regulation,” said Quinn.

See the release here.

Senate Considers Measures to Block Obama Administration’s Anti-Coal Regulations

‘The Obama Administration is trying to impose deeply regressive energy regulations that would eliminate good-paying jobs, punish the poor, and make it even harder for Kentuckians to put food on the table.’
WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding two resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act of the President’s EPA regulations:

“The Obama Administration is trying to impose deeply regressive energy regulations that would eliminate good-paying jobs, punish the poor, and make it even harder for Kentuckians to put food on the table.

“Their effect on global carbon levels? Essentially a rounding error.

“Their effect on poor and Middle-Class families? Potentially devastating.

“And yet.

“The deep-pocketed left-wingers who increasingly call the shots in the Obama White House don’t seem to care. Just like with its decision on Keystone last month, the Obama Administration is putting facts and compassion to the side in order to advance their ideological agenda.

“Higher energy bills and lost jobs may be a mere trifle to some on the Left, but it’s a different story for millions of Middle-Class Americans in Kentucky and across our country.

“Senators from both parties are saying that we should be standing up for the Middle Class instead. That’s why we’ve joined together to work toward overturning these two-pronged regulations.

“I’m happy to report that the bipartisan measures we filed last month to overturn those regressive regulations have now been made available for consideration by the full Senate.

“The first measure pertains to regulations on existing energy sources, while the second pertains to regulations on new sources. Together, they represent a comprehensive solution.

“Senator Capito has been a leader in this effort and I thank her for all her hard work.

“That hard work will continue as the Senate and House both take up the measures and pass them. That’s the right thing to do for Middle-Class Kentuckians and Middle-Class Americans who’ve suffered enough under this Administration already.”

See the release here.

President’s Costly Power Plan is a Stealth Energy Tax for Colorado

Via The Gazette: 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is coming to Denver this week to drum up state support for a federal effort to implement the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. Announced by the White House with great fanfare this past summer, it is the president’s response to climate change. For Colorado, it will be a costly response.

In seeking to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, the plan defies both Congress and public opinion. Congress has repeatedly rejected caps on carbon dioxide emissions, and opinion polls consistently show voters won’t pay for them.

The plan also defies common sense. Logic doesn’t support claims by the EPA that replacing affordable sources of electricity like coal with far costlier sources will somehow lower electricity costs. On the contrary, EPA’s climate change regulation amounts to an energy tax.

A new analysis of the Clean Power Plan by Energy Ventures Analysis, an independent economic consultancy, shows the irreparable harm this rule inflicts on the country, especially on states like Colorado. In just eight years, from 2022 to 2030, consumers here will have paid $2.7 billion more for wholesale electricity compared to the cost without the rule. So instead of lower energy costs, as EPA promises, Colorado will be stuck with a 19 percent spike in costs, plus a $3.3 billion tab for new energy infrastructure to replace existing power plants retired by the rule.

EVA shows that what is bad for Colorado is also bad for the country. By 2030, EVA projects Americans will have paid $214 billion more for wholesale electricity than they would pay without this regulation. The bills start to come due in 2022, when consumers will shell out an additional $15 billion a year. By 2030, they’ll pay $31 billion a year more, a 21 percent cost increase overall. Add the costs of lost manufacturing jobs, less affordable energy sources, and the estimated $64 billion tab for replacing lost power plant capacity, and you begin to understand why the Clean Power Plan is a tax on energy.

EPA doesn’t call this a tax on electricity. But with less money in the family budget for groceries, for the occasional evening out, for paying monthly bills, that’s what consumers might call it. Driving these costs is the Obama administration’s determination to eliminate coal from the mix of fuels that generate electricity – regardless of the burden on households and businesses. Coal generates 39 percent of the nation’s electricity. So removing it from the fuel mix, especially in coal states, will raise demand and prices for alternative fuels to fill the gap.

EPA dismisses the pain to consumers. But most American families expect, and many low-income families rely on affordable electricity to balance the budget. And it’s affordable, coal-generated electricity that the administration now wants to drive out of the American energy mix.

As a result, the Clean Power Plan falls hardest on low-income families. Today about half of American households pay close to 20 percent of their disposable income on energy-related expenses. EPA will force them to pay more. The same federal agency that claims global warming hurts the world’s poor is now hurting America’s poor through regulations that won’t put a dent in any global warming, even assuming the agency’s models are correct.

EPA touts the rule as vital to halt the rise in global temperatures when the agency’s data show the Clean Power Plan will have virtually no measurable impact on global temperatures or greenhouse gas concentrations.

The Clean Power Plan is an energy tax. And Colorado should not have to pay for it.

Stuart A. Sanderson is President of the Colorado Mining Association.

See the article here.

Fighting Back Against Obama’s Attacks on Coal

Via The Williamson Daily News:

When then-Senator Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, he told The San Francisco Chronicle that, if elected, he would use the power of the presidency to “bankrupt” the coal industry. Since 2008, President Obama has attempted to satisfy this pledge by taking numerous illegal actions to attack coal using virtually every lever of the massive federal bureaucracy. We here in West Virginia know what it will mean if the president manages to carry out his threat to bankrupt coal: economic devastation for coal miners and their families, destruction of coal-mining communities, higher energy prices, and rolling blackouts.

When I ran for attorney general in 2012, I made a different kind of pledge: I promised to use the full authority of the office of the attorney general to fight back against the Obama administration’s attacks on our coal industry and coal miners. Since taking office, I have made it my office’s highest priority to successfully carry out this fight by teaming up with large, bipartisan coalitions of other attorneys general from around the country.

My office has already had several major successes in this critical area. Just last month, we led a nationwide, multistate coalition in the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, successfully obtaining a nationwide stay against the administration’s rule drastically expanding the reach of the federal Clean Water Act. This rule would have had disastrous impacts on coal miners, farmers, homebuilders, contractors, retail establishments and public works projects. A couple of months before that, the United States Supreme Court agreed with our arguments that Obama’s EPA had overreached in regulating coal-fired power plants without considering the costs of those regulations.

Several of our other critical litigation efforts are ongoing. Most prominently, my office is leading a bipartisan coalition of 24 states suing to stop EPA’s cascade of regulations seeking to require states to reorganize the energy grid away from coal-fired generation. In what is commonly known as the “Section 111(d) Rule,” EPA is trying to force states to shutdown existing coal-fired power plants, on the inaccurate assumption that the affordable, reliable energy that those plants produce will be replaced by wind and solar energy. And in another, related rule, EPA is effectively prohibiting the construction of any new coal-fired power plants by mandating the use of costly, experimental technology, which has not been demonstrated as commercially viable anywhere in the world. We are suing to stop these illegal rules – these are worthwhile fights.

We are ready to meet more threats from this administration, which are around the corner. To take just one example, President Obama’s Office of Surface Mining recently proposed to adopt a disastrous rule relating to streams near mines. This rule is specifically designed to make coal-mining activity impossible, costing many thousands of coal-mining jobs. Accordingly, my office worked to lead a multistate letter thoroughly explaining the illegality of this rule. Make no mistake, if this rule is finalized in its present form, we will challenge it in court.

Opponents of West Virginia coal urge us to just give up and allow the president to fulfill his campaign pledge, given how much power his administration wields. But surrender is not the West Virginia way. For every illegal, anti-coal rule this administration finalizes, my office will bring a lawsuit, make the best possible arguments, and seek to achieve victory for the people of West Virginia. We have achieved some important successes so far and will do everything in our power to defeat the Obama administration in court.

Patrick Morrisey is the Attorney General of West Virginia. His Charleston office can be reached at 304-558-2021. His Martinsburg field office, located at 269 Aikens Center, can be reached at 304-267-0239. Visit his office online at www.ago.wv.gov.

See the article here.

Local Businesses to Voice Support for Coal

Via The Bismarck Tribune: 

Though not in the heart of Coal Country, Bismarck-Mandan is affected by the coal industry and the local business community will voice its support.

The North Dakota Department of Health will host the third in a series of meetings in Bismarck on Monday, garnering public input on a state plan to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

“It is starting to create a lot of interest,” said Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce President Kelvin Hullet, adding that many chamber members rely on the coal industry for business, including construction companies and electricians who service the industry. Coal companies also purchase vehicles and heavy equipment from Bismarck-Mandan dealerships.

The chamber plans to offer its opinion on a proposed state plan that would reduce carbon emissions by 45 percent from 2012 levels into 2030 as mandated by the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Monday’s meeting will start at 7 p.m. at the Bismarck State College National Energy Center of Excellence.

Hullet said the chamber believes the state and industry have a long history of crafting energy solutions that also protect the environment. As a result, the chamber is in favor of the state drafting its own implementation plan.

The chamber also will ask that the Health Department’s plan be drafted in a way that will keep North Dakota’s coal plants operational, Hullet said.

Bismarck-Mandan has an integrated relationship with Coal Country, Hullet said. Several of the utility companies, including Great River Energy Power Cooperative, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. and Basin Electric Power Cooperative, have corporate headquarters in Bismarck-Mandan and the community counts on those jobs. In addition, many plant and mine workers live in Bismarck-Mandan and commute to work.

Affordable, reliable energy is another concern. Hullet said, as a rural state competing with larger markets for businesses and employees, low-cost energy is an asset for attraction.

The EPA estimates the cost of emission rate credits, which may be available for purchase by utilities that want to keep coal plants operational, at $30 per ton of carbon. Hullet said that would amount to $350 million annually that would be passed down to utility customers.

Hullet said he has received many calls from chamber members concerned about the affordability of electricity and expects a large turnout by business at Monday’s meeting.

Any effect on the coal industry would have a ripple effect in Bismarck-Mandan.

“The mines have a far-reaching economic impact in our community,” Hullet said.

See the article here.

EPA’s Clean Power Plan Oversteps Federal Authority

Via The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

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. 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 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’s 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 Clean Power Plan 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 Clean Power Plan 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 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 and a former commissioner of the Missouri Public Service Commission.

See the article here.

Manchin Blasts Clean Power Plant Rules in Letter to EPA

Via The Register-Herald:

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., sent a strongly-worded letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) blasting the agency for establishing the Clean Power Plan standards for new coal-fired power plants.

In the letter sent to Administrator Gina McCarthy, the senator contends the standards are based on a presently failing Canadian carbon, capture and sequestration (CCS) project.

Manchin points out the EPA has indicated its final rule for all new coal-fired power plants in the U.S. is based largely off the perceived success of the Boundary Dam CCS Project, a still-developing CCS power plant in Canada.

In the final rule, the agency asserted that “The Boundary Dam facility has been operating full CCS successfully at commercial scale since October 2014.”

In fact, Manchin said, the EPA alluded five times in its final rule to the supposedly successful full CCS operation of the project.

However, based on recent Canadian news report, involving leaked documents on the demonstration unit’s operation, which have been since acknowledged by the plant company’s management, it is now evident that the Boundary Dam CCS Project has failed to operate successfully at full CCS for any meaningful period of time.

This result substantially undermines the EPA’s final regulation for CO2 emissions on new coal fired power plants (NSPS), as the full CCS unit on this project served as the fundamental basis for the EPA’s reasoning.

The reports also identify the CCS system of the demonstration plant as playing a role in the delays for getting the plant up and running.  After one year of operation, the project was forced to replace certain important features at a cost of $60 million. There have also been nearly $23 million in non-performance penalties and lost revenues.

After first stating that the plant was operating at full CCS since October 2014, the company, SaskPower, is forecasting the project is now on track to become fully operational by the end of 2016; there are no guarantees that this will prove true either.

SaskPower CEO Mike Marsh now claims the project will need at least a year of stable operation to prove the technical operation and the economics of the project, which would aid in determining commercially viability.

“Once we can achieve stable operation for a year, we’ll be able to prove the technical operation and the economics of this project. If you can’t run it stably for a long period of time, you’ll never be able to do that.”

Reports out of Canada indicate that SaskPower now won’t know about the project’s viability until the end of 2017.

“Forcing new coal-fired plants to meet standards when experts know that the required technology is not sustainably operational on a commercial scale makes absolutely no sense,” Manchin wrote. “By requiring technology that has never been adequately demonstrated, the EPA is forcing an industry to shut down and consumers to pay higher utility bills.

“I have always said that if it is unobtainable, it is unreasonable. If a standard is impossible to meet, for a minimum of 12 months of sustained commercial operation, then it is unreasonable to impose that standard on our people.”

Manchin also claims that these reports prove CCS is still technologically unproven in a power plant application and, therefore, should not be required for U.S. coal plants. Manchin argues the EPA should scrap this impossible-to-meet rule or amend it to require advanced technology that has actually been implemented, would offer improved environmental performance and is commercially viable.

Manchin concludes that he is “completely sympathetic to the need for standards to be looking ‘technology-forward’” but “imposing requirements that are commercially impractical is unreasonable.”

Calls to the EPA were not immediately returned Tuesday.

See the article here.

Louisiana Leaders Should All Fight Obama’s Carbon Rule

Via The Times-Picayune:

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published its final “Clean Power Plan” regulating carbon dioxide emissions. Now 26 states, including Louisiana and its Department of Environmental Quality, have filed suit against EPA, contending that the federal government is infringing on the states’ right to control our own energy choices.

Louisiana’s autonomy in regulating retail electricity markets has helped the state achieve the fifth-most affordable electricity prices in the country, yet EPA’s new carbon scheme threatens to raise energy prices in our state. In order to preserve the well-being of Louisiana families, our state leaders, including gubernatorial candidates John Bel Edwards and David Vitter, should pledge to use all tools at their disposal to fight implementation of President Barack Obama’s costly carbon regulations.

Earlier this year, the Pelican Institute released a report by economists at the Beacon Hill Institute assessing the impact of the proposed rule on Louisiana. Our study estimated that the cost of the regulation would be $258 million in 2030. Furthermore, the combined effects of this rule and two other regulations on power plants would increase electricity prices by 22 percent.

Unfortunately, the final version of the rule is still bad for Louisiana households. The state is expected to reduce its emissions by about 29 percent below 2012 levels by 2030. Since our state generates about one-fifth of its electricity from coal, the actions needed to meet the regulation will be substantial and, most likely, detrimental.

Conversely, Louisiana produces very little power from renewables. After conducting a three year Renewable Energy Pilot Program, the Louisiana Public Service Commission decided that a renewable energy mandate was unnecessary. However, since EPA’s rule heavily emphasizes replacing existing coal generation with new renewable sources, an implementation plan could impose a de facto statewide energy mandate.

Implementing the final rule could drastically change the make up of the electric power sector in the state, with severe ramifications for Louisianans. As affordable coal plants are prematurely retired in favor of new renewable energy resources, utilities will pass on costs to consumers and raise the price of energy for households. A recent Institute for Energy Research study compared the cost of new and existing electricity generation sources and found that existing coal plants produce electricity at about one-third of the cost of new wind facilities.

Affordable power is essential for all Louisianans, but especially low-income families. According to an analysis by energy economist Eugene Trisko, Louisiana households earning less than $10,000 spent 70 percent of their after-tax income on energy, creating serious tradeoffs among other essentials like food and healthcare. Due to the well-established connection between wealth and health, any regulation that increases the energy burden for poorer families will also harm public health.

The good news is that opposition against EPA’s rule is strong within Louisiana. Recognizing that the regulation undermines state authority and will increase energy costs, Gov. Bobby Jindal has indicated that Louisiana will not submit an implementation plan to EPA. Gubernatorial candidates Edwards and Vitter, facing a Nov. 21 runoff, should promise to support Gov.’s Jindal’s approach.

It is prudent for Louisiana’s leaders to “do no harm” and oppose EPA’s rule. Refraining from submitting a state plan in September 2016 is crucial to protecting citizens. Since states do not have to submit a final plan or make binding commitments in 2016, there is no downside to this approach. Furthermore, it allows more time for legal challenges to be heard by the courts.

Waiting for the courts to decide the issue before taking irrevocable compliance steps is the most effective way to protect Louisiana families and oppose the federal government’s intrusion into state affairs.

See the article here.

Power Plant Rule Ignores Constitution, Threatens Indiana’s Economy

Via The Chicago Tribune:

A significant effort is under way to fundamentally change the rules governing power plants in the United States, and the effort was done without any congressional involvement. In fact, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate oppose the plan.

In contrast to the will of our elected officials in Congress, theEnvironmental Protection Agency just finalized and released a vast plan that will require states to switch power generation from reliable fossil fuel sources to unproven and expensive alternative sources. Due to the fact that coal-fired electric power plants generate about 85 percent of Indiana’s net electricity, one of the most profoundly impacted by the new rule will be our Hoosier state.

The state, as a whole, must reduce the amount of carbon dioxide generated per unit of electricity 38.5 percent from 2012 levels by 2030. Imagine the implications and costs that Indiana’s industrial sector, including manufacturers of aluminum, chemicals, glass, metal casting, and steel will have to endeavor if the EPA is not stopped. Forcing businesses to comply with this outlandish regulation will no doubt send our economy to a screeching halt. At a time when the impact of the great recession is finally starting to wane, Hoosiers are faced with yet another challenge inflicted by burdensome regulations.

The Clean Air Act was passed by Congress more than 50 years ago. Congress has a proven record of updating the act to accommodate the times. In 1970 it was significantly updated, and amendments followed in both 1977 and 1990. Most recently, Congress seriously considered a proposal similar to this power plant rule in 2009. However, even with Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi in charge, it barely passed the House of Representatives. The rule was so unpopular that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid never even put it up for a vote. Circumventing Congress, the measure was put into effect via executive order and EPA rules changes.

The National Black Chamber of Commerce estimates that average energy costs for residential customers could rise by more than $1,200 by 2030. For energy intensive businesses, the costs could go even higher. We don’t fully understand that impact of the rule because the EPA didn’t even properly study how it would affect small employers. They considered only the direct effects on small power generation facilities, not the indirect costs that would be paid by millions of small business owners, especially in Indiana. The National Federation of Independent Business filed comments with the EPA pointing out this oversight and not surprisingly, those comments were ignored.

This plan almost completely ignores the progress America has made to move toward cleaner fuels. The EPA admits that the electricity market “is already changing.” In the last decade, America reduced “total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth.” Even coal has gotten cleaner as monthly CO2 emissions from coal-fired plants recently reached a 27-year low.

Not only does this most recent abuse of our constitution break the law, but it endangers our small business-based economy. For these reasons, the National Federation of Independent Business is suing the EPA to stop this rule before it destroys jobs and livelihoods and calling on Gov. Mike Pence to continue to denounce the regulation.

Barbara Quandt Underwood is the Indiana state director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

See the article here.

Morrisey Hoping for ‘Double Victory’ Against EPA Anti-Coal Plan

Via West Virginia MetroNews:

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey hopes for a “double victory” in the ongoing fight against the EPA’s power plans.

West Virginia is part of a 23-state coalition led by Morrisey that filed suit last week challenging the EPA’s plan to limit new coal-fired power plants. Morrisey and other attorneys general are already fighting the EPA’s Clean Power plan on existing plants.

The two challenges will continue on parallel tracks, Morrisey said Monday on MetroNews “Talkline.”

“Probably one of the most important things about this lawsuit is that if we win on our lawsuit pertaining to new coal-fired power plants we will also win pertaining to regulations pertaining to existing coal-fired power plants,” Morrisey said.

The EPA’s restriction on carbon emissions for coal-fired plants remains at the core of President Obama’s climate-change policy. To change the Clean Air Act, the EPA must prove the new standard has been adequately demonstrated, a point Morrisey refutes.

“The EPA is ultimately relying on technology … that’s never been shown to be viable on a commercial scale,” Morrisey said.

A carbon-capture plant project in Mississippi is into millions of dollars of cost overruns.

“It has at least cost $6.4 billion and it was supposed to cost $2.8 billion,” Morrisey said. “We think for that reason and many others the EPA has not met the legal standard.”

The latest legal challenge is in the Washington, D.C.-based federal appeals court.

“We’re trying to open up multiple fronts against the EPA,” Morrisey said, “so we can protect coal miners and their families and also ensure that the EPA meets its legal burden.”

The other states suing the EPA include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

See the article here.

‘Clean Power Plan’ is Bad News for Texas Ratepayers

Via The Herald-Democrat:

Access to affordable and reliable electricity is about more than being able to turn on your lights when you get home from work. We need it to power our schools, supermarkets, hospitals, offices, manufacturing plants and airports. But like all things in life, electricity isn’t free. In fact, almost half of Texas’ population spends over 15% of their annual household budget on energy costs alone according to data on residential energy consumption patterns. To stand up for the middle class, I have an obligation to fight for policies that keep energy affordable.

Unfortunately, almost every day we are blindsided with regulations that disrupt our lives and impact our ability to provide for our families. This is more visible than ever with the Administration’s newest “Clean Power Plan.” While you might hear media reports about the noble intent of these regulations, don’t let misleading talking points fool you. The reality is that these regulations will make life more difficult for you and your family.

But President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t look at everyday Americans when deciding policy. Instead it clings to extreme ideological views. The so-called “Clean Power Plan” is yet another case of unelected bureaucrats writing rules which will have devastating effects on hard-working Americans.

If we don’t fight back against these rules, approximately 33% of all coal-fired power plants – enough electricity for 60 million homes – stand to close according to EPA estimates. Texas is the 6th largest producer of coal in the nation, and relies on coal for about one third of the state’s electricity portfolio according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The National Mining Association estimates there are 41,000 Texans working in the coal industry, if these plants are forced to shutter operations they all could lose their jobs while being forced to pay more to keep the lights on at home. Making matters worse, the regulations set to be levied on Texas are 20% more stringent than the target national average.

This isn’t government working for the people. It’s government getting in the way.

One study produced by energy economist Eugene Trisko projected that the proposed rules would cause “double-digit electricity rate increases” in 43 states, with a total national cost that could reach $479 billion over 15 years. That was the EPA’s initial proposal, and the regulations finalized in August may be even worse.

Some argue that these costs should be born for the “greater good,” in hopes of significantly cutting CO2 emissions, but the facts say otherwise. It is estimated by the Cato Institute that these regulations would only reduce the global temperature 0.02 degree Celsius. Why would the Administration force Americans to sacrifice so much when even the most optimistic projections anticipate a rounding error in return?

President Obama and his EPA should stop pushing politically-motivated regulations that result in higher electricity prices, widespread loss of jobs, and lower take home pay. The American people have suffered enough.

The legislation I have introduced would nullify these actions and prevent the EPA from ever issuing similar regulations again. At the end of the day, it is my job as an elected official to do what is in the best interest of the American people. I look forward to growing this coalition as we collective stand up to a reckless president and out-of-control executive branch.

Rep. John Ratcliffe represents Texas’ 4th congressional district, which includes Grayson and Fannin counties among others.

See the article here.

Fighting Back Against Administration’s Costly Power Plan

Via coalzoom.com:

By Senator Mitch McConnell

November 8, 2015 – Here we go again. The Obama Administration has fired its latest salvo in the War on Coal by publishing the final version of its so-called “Clean Power Plan”—regulations that would effectively shut down most coal-fired power plants and prevent new ones from being built.

These regulations would shrink our state’s economy by almost $2 billion. And they would hurt Kentucky workers and their families by raising electricity rates by double digits while cutting coal jobs across the state. What the administration is pushing for is not a Clean Power Plan, but a “Costly Power Plan” that will have no lasting impact on the environment.

That’s why I am using my position as Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate to fight back against President Obama and his bureaucrats at the EPA who have issued these regulations aimed at the heart of coal country. This summer, I was able to secure language in an Interior Appropriations bill that, if enacted, would halt this regulation.

More recently, I filed a bipartisan measure in the Senate under a procedure established by the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA empowers Congress to overturn regulations issued by the executive branch with a simple majority vote. The CRA measure I filed would stop the Obama Administration from imposing on Kentuckians its anti-coal regulation for new coal-fired power plants.

I am also a proud cosponsor of another bipartisan Senate measure filed under the CRA that would block the so-called Clean Power Plan’s regulation pertaining to existing coal-fired plants. Together, these measures represent a comprehensive effort to fight back against the Obama Administration’s outrageous effort to cut jobs and hike electricity prices in Kentucky.

I’ve been fighting against this president’s hurtful policies, and this so-called Clean Power Plan in particular, since he first proposed it. Several months ago, I wrote a letter to every governor in the country suggesting that they take a responsible wait-and-see approach before subjecting the citizens of their states to unnecessary pain caused by complying with the government’s request for state implementation plans for these outrageous regulations.

I wrote this letter because there is a legitimate question as to whether the administration even has the authority under federal law to issue these regulations. Also encouraging is the fact that the administration, in recognition of the difficulty many states will have complying with this plan, is allowing states to seek a two-year delay to abide by it. President Obama will be out of office by then, and the next administration may not even continue forward on this disastrous route.

This tacit admission from the Obama Administration that its plan is unworkable proves that the pushback from states is making a difference. More than half the states have launched lawsuits to fight back against this ill-advised plan. I’m encouraged that Kentucky’s next governor, Matt Bevin, has already pledged he will not comply with these regulations.

I’m determined to continue the fight against the Obama Administration’s attack on Kentucky jobs. The administration’s lack of compassion for those being trampled by these massively regressive regulations is shocking. The path to pursuing the administration’s left-wing ideological agenda runs right over Kentucky coal miners and their families, who have done nothing to deserve it.

And remember: for all the damage this Costly Power Plan would inflict on the middle class, it’s not even expected to reduce global emissions in any meaningful way.

Tons of pain for almost no gain. That’s the Obama White House plan.

So the fight against the War on Coal continues. This fight will not be short or easy. But it’s essential to our livelihoods and our very way of life, and hard-working Kentuckians should know that I’m going to keep standing and fighting for them, no matter what the Obama Administration or their EPA throw at us.

See the article here.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan Oversteps Federal Authority

Via The Choctaw Plain Dealer:

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 to generate electricity in the U.S.—and which currently generates about 40% 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 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 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 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, Missouri, and a former Commissioner of the Missouri Public Service Commission.

See the article here.

Carbon Conflict Erupts between states over Obama power plan

Via The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 

WASHINGTON — An 18-state coalition led by New York and California has begun taking on a block of 26 states including Texas and Florida in a court fight over the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The regulatory initiative is meant to steer the U.S. away from coal power and toward renewable energy sources.

The states defending the federal plan — joined by the District of Columbia and the cities of New York, Chicago and Philadelphia — were seeking permission Wednesday from a Washington federal court to join a battle over the legality of the clean power initiative. They said their request is unopposed.

“Climate change is real. It is deadly. It is threatening the health and safety of people in all of our states,” Eric Schneiderman, New York attorney general, said in a telephone press conference. Joining him on the call were Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and the attorneys general of Massachusetts and Virginia, Maura Healey and Mark Herring, all of whom are Democrats.

The first-ever national standards for addressing power plant carbon pollution, the Clean Power Plan aims by 2030 to reduce those emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels. The rules require states and utilities to use less coal and more solar and wind power as well as natural gas.

Litigation over the initiative is the biggest flashpoint between states largely dominated by Democrats supporting the president’s environmental agenda and those led by Republicans opposed to it.

West Virginia and Kentucky last month sued to challenge the regulations published Oct. 23 as part of a 24-state group. Oklahoma and North Dakota filed separately. They claim the Environmental Protection Agency is exceeding its statutory authority by forcing states to develop at least draft compliance plans by next September and final plans two years after that.

Power grab

“If the EPA succeeds in this unprecedented and illegal power grab, many jobs will be lost, electricity prices will rise, the reliability of the power grid will be put at risk and the rule of law will not be upheld,” Patrick Morrisey, the Republican West Virginia attorney general, said Wednesday in an emailed statement.

On Tuesday, an almost identical 24-state coalition sued the EPA, asking the same Washington-based court to review accompanying EPA carbon-emission capture technology requirements for new coal-fired plants.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said the plan is based on “strong scientific and legal foundations,” and is within the statutory authority granted to the agency by Congress under the Clean Air Act.

West Virginia, joined by the coal producer Murray Energy Corp. and groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, has asked the federal appeals court to issue an order putting the rules on hold until the case is decided.

Water levels in one coastal Virginia area have risen two feet in the past 75 years and may rise an additional two to five feet by the end of the century, Mr. Herring told reporters.

“I know there are folks who are going to want to make this a political fight,” he said. “If you say that climate change is some sort of made-up global conspiracy, then just come to Hampton Roads and take a look for yourself.”

The case is State of West Virginia v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 15-1363, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit (Washington).

See the article here.

Wisconsin Joins Lawsuit Against EPA’s New Coal Plant Restrictions

Via The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:  

Wisconsin joined 23 others states Tuesday in a federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations aimed at sharply curtailing construction of coal-fired power plants.

Attorney General Brad Schimel’s office said Wisconsin was joining the other states in a lawsuit filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

The regulations set carbon emissions limits that would require new plants to use expensive and unproven technology, said Schimel, a Republican.

The suit is the second Wisconsin has joined in recent weeks in which states are contesting regulations by the Obama administration to fight global warming by limiting carbon dioxide emissions. The first suit Oct. 23 challenges rules forcing existing coal plants to cut carbon emissions.

In both, the states say the rules will heap higher costs on consumers and business. In Wisconsin, officials say the regulations would fall hard on the manufacturing sector because utilities here rely more on coal as a source of electric generation than many states.

Under the rule, utilities would be required to build natural gas-fired plants or build coal plants that capture the carbon dioxide, and then bury it underground or ship it by pipeline to companies for enhanced oil recovery.

Wisconsin and other states say the rules rely upon unproven technology.

In a statement, GOP Gov. Scott Walker said he supported the suit.

“The Obama administration ignored the concerns submitted by Wisconsin and other states across the nation, instead pursuing a political agenda that will increase costs and prevent the construction of future power plants producing reliable, affordable electricity for our state,” Walker said.

However, environmentalists have backed the rules because coal plants are a key source of carbon dioxide emissions and natural gas is plentiful. Natural gas plants produce fewer carbon emissions.

Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel contributed to this story.

See the article here.

States, Groups Put Clean Power Plan to Legal Test

Via Roll Call:

The Obama administration’s two rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants have already attracted 21 suits in opposition — ensuring that federal appeals court judges, and possibly the Supreme Court, will determine whether the landmark limits stay or go.

Opponents have also filed six motions for a stay of the rules, known as the Clean Power Plan, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Those motions seek to keep the rule on hold until the suits are heard. They also preview the major arguments that will be made to the judges and to the public in the coming months over the landmark rules, which would set the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Appeals court judges will first determine whether to grant a stay early next year, in response to the motions filed by 26 states, utilities and unions, trade groups, and the coal industry.

Environmental groups and a set of 15 states and two cities have sided with the EPA before the court and contend the challengers won’t meet the legal requirements for a stay.

EPA officials, including Administrator Gina McCarthy, have asserted that the rules are on solid legal footing and will be upheld in court.

Here is a rundown of the cases filed to date, and the key arguments.

States

Three suits and stay motions have been filed by the states: one each by North Dakota and Oklahoma, and one by 24 states led by West Virginia.

All of the pending cases, including those by outside groups, have been consolidated under the case West Virginia, et al v. EPA, making it the lead suit.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has been a vocal legal opponent of the rule, which he says will decimate the state’s coal economy. In the stay motion, the states call the rules “an unprecedented, unlawful attempt by an environmental regulator to reorganize the nation’s energy grid.”

More specifically, the states make two arguments to underpin their contention that the EPA overstepped its authority under the Clean Air Act.

First, the states say the section of the law used by the EPA to impose the rule, Sec. 111(d), does not allow the imposition of mandates that go beyond ordering pollution cuts at individual plants.

The EPA’s rules, in fact, don’t specify targets for each plant. Rather, they set carbon emissions rates for states from all electricity sources. Collectively, the rules would cut national emissions 32 percent below levels seen in 2005, with some states facing tougher reductions than the national level and some less.

The EPA emphasizes that states are free to come up with their own plans to reach their targets, including the purchase of credits by operators from others in states that exceed their cuts.

Such a trading scheme would allow coal plants that might otherwise be shuttered to keep running, the EPA says. But states say the bottom line is that they will have to restructure their entire power sector to comply.

The plan “imposes measures that favor renewable generation,” they argue, without a clear mandate from Congress.

Second, the states say the EPA is skirting language in the law that they argue prohibits a power plant from being regulated under two different sections.

See the article here.

23 States Sue Over EPA Rule on New Power Plants

Via The Hill:

Twenty-three states are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its emissions rules for new and modified power plants.

The states, led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), say the EPA exceeded its authority when issuing the rules, which look to cut down on carbon emissions from future power plants around the United States.

The EPA’s rule sets carbon limits for natural gas and coal-fired power plants, requiring the plants to implement new technologies to decrease their emissions.

In a statement, Morrisey said the rule would hurt the state’s coal industry.

“This gamble proves far too costly for West Virginia,” Morrisey said. “EPA cannot rely on experimental and costly technology that threatens hard-working West Virginians whose livelihoods are dependent upon the coal industry.”

The new plant rule is separate from the Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon emissions from existing power plants. Taken together, the regulations are designed to reduce power sector carbon emissions, a strategy at the heart of President Obama’s climate platform.

Both rules have run into legal and legislative opposition among Republicans and red-state Democrats.

A House panel approved Congressional Review Act resolutions against the two rules on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the Senate will take up similar measures soon, though President Obama has promised to veto them.

More than half the states have already sued over the Clean Power Plan, including a coalition similar to the one led by West Virginia in the new power plant lawsuit. The states are hoping a court panel will stay the rules’ implementation during litigation, a decision that will come no earlier than late December.

“These unlawful policies cannot go forward,” Morrisey said. “Not only will EPA’s rules threaten good-paying jobs and small business throughout West Virginia, this unilateral action is unlawful.”

The states joining West Virginia include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

See the article here.

New Stream Rules Will Cost More Coal Jobs

Via The Register-Herald:

Senators are challenging the number of coalfield jobs that could be lost as a result of implementing the Obama administration’s Stream Protection Rule.

The Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement (OSM) believes the rule would shed less than 300 jobs — most of which would be replaced.

However, a new study paid for by the coal industry’s lobbying group found upward of 78,000 jobs could be lost in the coalfields if the rule is implemented.

The report states the Stream Protection Rule would eliminate between 40,000 and 78,000 coal miners in an industry that has already lost more than 40,000 jobs since 2011. When including employment in coal-dependent industries, it predicted the jobless toll 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,” the study reads.

The study’s job loss projections are derived from data gathered at 36 actual operating mines, surface as well as underground, it states.

The resulting massive job loss projection stems from the rule’s devastating impact on the coal resource. The study 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.

Removing this volume of coal 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.

The report states that despite the destructive economic impacts, the SPR would nevertheless accomplish no environmental purpose. OSM’s own data show 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, according to the report.

During a congressional hearing last week, Janice Schneider, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for land and mineral management, criticized the study, stating it gets the rule wrong.

“The analysis appears to assume that the proposed rule would prohibit longwall mining. That is not correct,” she said at last week’s hearing, explaining longwall is a type of underground mining. “And all of the numbers on job losses appear to flow from very conservative estimates that longwall mining would not be allowed.”

The stream rule would implement a new series of standards and requirements to ensure that surface and other types of mines do not unnecessarily harm streams and the ecosystems and wildlife that depend on them.

It is aimed mostly at stopping the worst effects of mountaintop removal mining, in which mountains are blasted apart and the waste material is often put into stream valleys.

Sen. Joe Manchin, who serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee, asked government officials and environmentalists, “Is there a war on coal?”

Jim Hecker, an attorney for Public Justice, denied there is a war. Instead, he said, regulations are needed to “level the playing field, so that the coal industry meets the same standards other industries do.”

Manchin then questioned Hecker if water quality has improved, which the attorney agreed it has. Yet, certain elements, such as selenium, are still a problem, Hecker contended.

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman was asked by Manchin if it is feasible for the state to try to meet the requirements of the proposed Stream Protection Rule.

Huffman said improvements are continuously being made via science and impact of third party lawsuits in protecting the state’s environment. Addressing selenium, which is found in metal sulfide ores, where it partly replaces the sulfur, Huffman said the toxicity and dangers of the chemical “are overstated and used to express damages in the coalfields that simply are not occurring.”

In his closing comments Manchin said government and environmentalists do not understand the country could not function without coal.

“Nobody seems to want to come to a balance that we can provide between the environment and the economy and that’s the biggest frustration,” said Manchin.

In a statement Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said no one cares more about West Virginia’s streams and water quality than those living in the Mountain State.

“This far-reaching regulation fails to consider the benefits our state’s mining operations provide to West Virginia’s economy,” she said, echoing Manchin’s closing remarks to the committee.

See the article here.

The Clean Power Plan Oversteps

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 to generate electricity in the U.S.—and which currently generates about 40% 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 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 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 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, Missouri, and a former Commissioner of the Missouri Public Service Commission.

See the article here.

Whitfield Advances Two Resolutions to Keep Electricity Affordable and Reliable

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Energy and Power Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-01), today passed two resolutions, H.J. Res 71 and H.J. Res 72, disapproving of two final rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for new and existing power plants. The resolutions would provide for Congressional disapproval of each rule, and that the rules shall have no force or effect.

Chairman Whitfield stated, “These rules will produce not only higher electric rates, but also pose threats to electricity reliability and result in a substantial loss of jobs. In my view, the discrepancy between what EPA is trying to do and what the Clean Air Act actually allows is so wide that these resolutions are appropriate. More than half the states in the country have already filed legal challenge to the rule for existing plants and this extraordinary level of opposition is telling given that EPA claims they collaborated with the states. These resolutions of disapproval offer an opportunity to restore the rule of law and protect ratepayers across the country.”

Through their unprecedented regulations, EPA is seeking to fundamentally change the way electricity is generated, distributed, and consumed here in the United States. The economic costs far out-weigh the environmental benefits and as a result Chairman Whitfield introduced these two resolutions under the Congressional Review Act in an effort to protect grid reliability and ratepayers around the country from higher electricity prices. Additionally, these resolutions would protect states and their citizens from having to implement a highly complex, intrusive, and unworkable regulatory cap and trade scheme.

For a fact sheet on the resolutions, click here.

See the release here.

Stand Up to Obama Carbon Rule

Via The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

On Oct. 23, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published its final carbon dioxide regulation, the so-called Clean Power Plan or carbon rule. This set off a wave of legal challenges, with more than half of the states, including Wisconsin, suing to block the regulation.

As we highlighted in a previous opinion piece, the MacIver Institute, in conjunction with the Beacon Hill Institute, issued a report assessing the impact of the proposed carbon rule on Wisconsin. Our study estimated the rule would cost Wisconsin $313 million in 2030 as well as damage manufacturing, reduce employment and decrease real disposable income. Furthermore, a report conducted by NERA Economic Consulting estimated that the proposed rule could raise electricity prices by 14%, on average, between 2017 and 2031.

Unfortunately, the final rule is even stricter than the proposed regulation, and the negative effects on Wisconsin households will be even worse. States that generate most of their electricity from coal-fired sources, such as Wisconsin (nearly 62% in 2014), received more stringent carbon emissions reductions from EPA under the final rule. According to analysis from E&E Publishing, the final rule increased Wisconsin’s emissions cuts to 41.1% by 2030 under 2012 levels — 20% higher than the reductions required by the proposed rule.

The final rule forces Wisconsin to drastically change how we generate electricity to keep the lights on and heat our homes. As EPA’s rule pushes utilities to depend on unreliable renewable energy resources, fully functioning coal plants will be prematurely shuttered and these higher costs will show up in families’ electric bills.

A recent study from the Institute for Energy Research found that existing sources of electricity cost less than new sources of the same type. Furthermore, existing coal plants are nearly three times less expensive than new wind resources and almost half as expensive as new natural gas plants. Ultimately, retiring Wisconsin’s coal plants will place a cost premium on electricity for Wisconsin families, particularly those with low-incomes who spend a significant share of their earnings on energy.

The good news is that the opposition to the president’s dictatorial attempt to change a fundamental of life — how we heat and light our homes and businesses — is strong here in Wisconsin and across the nation. Wisconsin joined with 23 other states in a lawsuit against EPA’s rule (two other states filed separate suits). Gov. Scott Walker has consistently spoken out against the regulation, labeling it “unworkable” and renaming it the “Costly Power Plan.” Last December, Walker, legislators and state officials all submitted letters to EPA criticizing the proposed rule. They recognize that forcing the closure of affordable, reliable coal-fired power and replacing it with intermittent technologies such as wind power raises energy prices, threatens grid reliability and interferes with Wisconsin’s right to regulate our own energy markets.

Wisconsin’s leaders were right to oppose the proposed rule; they have even more reason to fight the final rule. To protect our citizens from Obama’s carbon rule, Wisconsin should pursue a “do no harm” approach by refraining from submitting a state plan in September 2016 and stopping any premature implementation by state regulators and utilities. There is no downside to this approach, as the EPA itself has said states do not have to submit a full plan or make binding commitments in 2016, buying time for the legal challenge.

Waiting for the courts to weigh in before submitting a state implementation is the most effective path to stop the president’s devastating attempt to force higher energy costs on Wisconsinites and protect families from this bureaucratic overreach.

See the article here.

Week Ahead: Lawmakers Move to Block EPA Rules

Via The Hill: 

Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress are taking direct aim at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), holding votes to overturn some of the most controversial regulations from the Obama administration.

The Senate Tuesday is scheduled to begin floor debate on a bill to overturn the Waters of the United States rule, which would redefine the EPA’s authority over minor waterways under the Clean Water Act.

The bill from Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) would additionally give a series of specific instructions for how the EPA should rewrite the rule in a way that covers less water and land.

Congressional Republicans and business and agriculture groups have assailed the water rule, arguing it gives the federal government far too much power. A federal court has blocked the regulations from taking effect while it works through litigation.

The Senate could also take up a more straightforward resolution from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) that would overturn the rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

On the other side of Capitol Hill, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will start the process of overturning the EPA’s climate change regulation for power plants, also using CRA procedure.

On Tuesday, the panel’s subcommittee on energy and power will consider legislation sponsored by chairman Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) that would block implementation of two separate EPA rules to restrict carbon dioxide emissions from existing and newly built power plants.

Success is unlikely, as President Obama is nearly certain to veto legislation overturning either one of the EPA regulations.

The House Oversight Committee will work on Wednesday on another controversial Obama administration rule, one that affects coal mining.

The panel’s subcommittee for the Interior Department, chaired by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), will hold a hearing on the stream protection rule, which was proposed earlier this year to better protect streams from coal mining, including the controversial mountaintop removal process.

Also on Wednesday, a subpanel of the House Natural Resources Committee will begin reviewing a pair of bills put forward in response to the major mine wastewater spill in Colorado that was caused by the EPA.

One bill would limit the liability of “Good Samaritan” companies that decide to voluntarily clean up abandoned mines, while the other would create a public-private foundation responsible for finding the best ways to clean up mines.

On Thursday, members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy will be in town and will meet with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and other members.

Off Capitol Hill, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, will speak at a Christian Science Monitor event about the final weeks before negotiators meet in Paris for work on an international climate deal.

See the article here.

A Rule Looking for a Purpose

Via The Daily Sentinel:

By Brent Wahlquist

The Obama administration smells blood in the water. Its assault on the production and use of coal in the United States has been relentless and is showing no signs of letting up despite the fact that coal production has already dropped by well over 15% since the administration took office.  Yet, coal still produces over 40% of the nation’s electricity, as well as serving other industrial uses.

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rolled out the final version of its Clean Power Plan, a rule designed to further roll back the use of coal in favor of other, more costly means of generating electricity.. Now, in its wake, comes the Department of the Interior (Interior) with its new so called Stream Protection Rule (SPR) designed to curb the production of coal and increase federal intervention into state run regulatory programs. This proposed rule is virtually a total rewrite of its current coal mine permitting, bonding and performance standards, which have been in place for decades.  The question is: Why?

Interior is proposing to fix problems that simply don’t exist. Streams are already well protected.  Interior’s own annual reviews, prepared by its Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), of state regulators show outstanding performance with 90 percent of active mining operations free of any off-site impacts. For example, Wyoming, by far the nation’s largest coal producer, was totally free of offsite impacts last year. The current regulatory structure is more than adequate to address those few impacts that do occur in other states for this declining industry.. This is not a record that cries out for a regulatory overhaul.

Furthermore, this new rule, contrary to existing law, duplicates regulations and regulatory authority already firmly established. Water quality is protected by EPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state regulatory agencies – all staffed by folks who actually live in the communities where protecting these streams matters most.

To be clear, Interior isn’t asking states to tighten enforcement. Instead, it is amending and modifying nearly every aspect of OSM’s regulatory mission by adding new unnecessary rules and ripping regulatory authority away from state mining regulators where, by Federal statute, it belongs.  Interior is giving its U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service veto authority over nearly every proposed mine in the country.  This is a particularly curious change since wildlife is already protected under existing rules and every mining permit must already comply with the Endangered Species Act. No issues warranting this new intrusion have been identified.

But perhaps most puzzling and troubling of all, Interior is insisting on pushing aside state regulatory experts even though current law (signed by President Carter), expressly finds that “the primary governmental responsibility for developing, authorizing, issuing and enforcing regulations” for coal mines “should rest with the States.” These state officials are the very ones who, with extensive Federal oversight, perform 97 percent of existing regulatory activity and know local mining operations, waterways and communities best. Yet, despite legal requirements stating otherwise, Interior and OSM have effectively shut them out of the rule-making process for the past six years.

The administration says the SPR is about improving the protection of waterways and wildlife; that is a ruse.  The SPR has been carefully constructed to take regulatory authority away from the states so that Interior can assume additional authority and staff it does not need, particularly in the face of an already declining coal industry.  At the same time, it fulfills the administration’s goal to make coal – still the nation’s largest and most affordable source of electricity – more difficult to mine in this country.

More than 40,000 coal miners have lost their jobs since 2011. This rule is another front in the Administration’s war on high-paying blue collar jobs while increasing the reach, size, and power of the Federal government.

Brent Wahlquist is a former director of the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. He lives in Parker.

See the article here.