Monthly Archives: December 2015

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

Report: EPA Regulations Pose Biggest Challenge to Keeping Nebraska’s Energy Costs Low

Via Omaha.com:

Federal regulations aimed at cutting greenhouse gases pose the biggest challenge to keeping electricity affordable in Nebraska, according to a report released Monday.

The report, “Public Power: Is It Still Affordable?,” analyzed the state’s public power industry to determine its costs and benefits to taxpayers, consumers and businesses in the state.

Ernie Goss, a Creighton University economics professor, did the research for the Platte Institute for Economic Research, an Omaha-based think tank.

He found that Nebraska’s average price for electricity is the third-lowest in the region, but rates grew at a much faster pace than neighboring states’ rates between 2007 and 2013.

The report said the state’s ability to control future rate increases is threatened by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan regulations.

Those rules target coal power plants, which produce about one-third of the nation’s carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to climate change. As such, the rules would have a greater impact on Nebraska than on other states because of the state’s heavy reliance on coal to produce electricity.

Nebraska’s goal under the regulations — to cut carbon dioxide 40 percent by 2030 — represents the highest hurdle in the nation, the Platte Institute said. The national target is a 32 percent reduction compared with 2005 levels.

However, Mark Becker, a spokesman for the Nebraska Public Power District, called the report’s assumptions about the impact of the EPA rules “superficial and premature.”

He said the costs can’t be known until Nebraska develops its reduction plan. He also said NPPD already has been working to cut its carbon footprint.

In the report, Goss said the state’s utilities could better handle the costs of complying with the regulations if they were no longer public and were taken over by larger private utilities.

Nebraska is the only state that gets virtually all of its electricity from public utilities rather than privately owned power companies.

The state joined 23 other states in filing a legal challenge to the EPA plan in October.

See the article here.

The Fight Continues: Multi-state Coalition Challenging Obama

Via The Bluefield Daily Telegraph:

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined 25 other states last week in pressing for a stay of the Environmental Protection Agency’s crippling Clean Power Plan. The controversial anti-coal plan has already caused great harm here in the coalfields of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia where headlines of mine closures and coal miners being laid off has become an almost a weekly occurrence.

Morrisey says he understands that even securing a stay against the Clean Power Plan, which will reduce carbon emissions by 2030, may not help the lagging coal industry pick up to previous levels. Many of those coal mines in our region that have been closed in recent months are unlikely to reopen even with a court victory. Still it is imperative for Morrisey to continue this fight in court. It is also critical for lawmakers, on both the state and federal level, to continue their fight against the crippling anti-coal agenda of the Obama administration.

Morrisey, and the 25-state coalition, correctly argue that the harm of the Clean Power rule is irreversible and occurring now. The coalition believes the plan will negatively impact states and business, and cause the unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer resources. But at the heart of their argument is the fundamental belief from the attorney generals that the Clean Power Plan is illegal.

Morrisey, Paxton and the other states argue that the plan exceeds the EPA’s authority by double regulating coal-fired power plants and by forcing states to fundamentally alter their energy portfolios and shift away from coal-fired generation. The EPA mandates are already forcing states on both sides of the issue to change laws and accommodate the rule’s goals.

“This has to stop,” Morrisey told the Register-Herald in Beckley last week. “We urge the court to take quick action and stop the continued implementation of this rule until the court has adequate time to hear our evidence and has an opportunity to decide this case on the merits.”

Texas and West Virginia filed suit against the Obama administration on Oct. 23, the same day the rule was published by the EPA. Last week’s brief was a response to EPA arguments filed with the court on Dec. 3.

States joining West Virginia and Texas in this necessary battle are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the Departments of Environmental Quality in Mississippi and North Carolina.

We applaud this diverse, bipartisan coalition of states for fighting this necessary battle in court. Although great harm has already been done to the coalfields region, it is not too late to stop this job-killing federal overreach of the Obama administration. The fight must continue.

See the article here.

North Carolina Uses Unique Tactic Against New EPA Power Rule

Via ABC News: 

Already among the two-dozen states suing to overturn new power plant emission rules, North Carolina is picking a separate fight with theEnvironmental Protection Agency by adopting a plan for compliance the agency is likely to reject.

State officials hope that will create a shortcut to a federal appeals court and head off any attempt by the EPA to drag out the court case while its rules get further entrenched.

North Carolina’s approach is unique because it splits the difference between the handful of states that have said they won’t submit any plan to the EPA, and about a dozen that are hedging their bets by developing compliance plans while they try to defeat the federal rules.

For example, West Virginia — considered a leader in the lawsuit filed in Washington against EPA in October — announced later that month that it would develop a plan to comply with the EPA.

“While I believe there are significant questions regarding the legality of the Clean Power Plan, these new rules have been put into place by the federal regulatory agency,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said at the time. “Until a final legal decision has been made, we cannot afford to ignore them.”

Other states signed onto the lawsuit appear undecided about how to proceed.

North Carolina quickly developed a proposal that ignores two of the three strategies recommended by the EPA. The plan received initial state approval in November.

“North Carolina is way ahead of the curve in terms of putting pen to paper on a rule,” said Clint Woods, executive director of the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies.

John Evans, chief deputy secretary for the Department of Environmental Quality, explained the rationale during a November meeting before a state environmental panel. He argued that the main lawsuit by the states could be drawn out by the EPA, making the state plan North Carolina’s best hope to fight it in court.

“We expect the EPA to oppose being heard, and if they are successful, then … the only chance for judicial review that we have available to us will be North Carolina’s plan,” he said.

Evans explained that if North Carolina submits a rule that’s rejected by the EPA, the state can then take its case to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We have an appeal right there. That might be the first challenge in the nation to the federal power plan rule,” he said.

North Carolina officials argue that improving the efficiency of power plants is the only approach out of three encouraged by the Obama administration that would be legal under state and federal law. The other approaches are increasing the use of natural gas and renewable energy.

North Carolina’s director of air quality, Sheila Holman, told The Associated Press this month that state officials don’t think they have the authority to force power companies to use those approaches.

According to the state’s own estimates, its plan would fall short of the EPA’s goals for reducing carbon emissions by 2030.

State officials say they will develop a backup plan in 2016 that expands strategies for reducing emissions in case the legal efforts fail. If no plan is submitted, the EPA can impose its own rules on the state.

Conservationists with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council echo Woods, whose organization works with 18 states that are mostly opposed to the EPA plan, in saying they’re not aware of any taking the same approach as North Carolina.

More than a dozen of the states involved in the primary legal fight with the EPA have either said explicitly they will comply or have taken steps to develop a plan. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, for instance, said earlier this month that the state must create a compliance plan even though he doesn’t think the EPA rules are fair.

Others, including New Jersey and Oklahoma, have signaled they intend to refuse to comply.

Holman said North Carolina is already a national leader in heat rates for coal-fired plants — a key measure of efficiency — making it hard to wring out further improvements. A 2002 North Carolina law that required pollution cuts beyond federal standards contributed to efficiency improvements and the shuttering of older coal-burning units.

That means North Carolina wouldn’t have as hard a time complying with the federal plan as other states, said Luis Martinez, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“North Carolina is very close as a state,” he said, “which makes this quixotic campaign against the Clean Power Plan even stranger.”

See the article here.

Democrats Object to President Obama’s Climate Change Policies

Via Heartland.org:

A coalition of hundreds of Democratic party officials and state and local office holders sent a letter to President Obama outlining their objections to his climate change policies.  In particular, in the letter the officials from 32 states take aim at the centerpiece of President Obama’s climate change agenda, the Clean Power Plan.

The coalition, referring to itself CoalBlue, says it has “serious and overriding concerns,” with the Environmental Protection Agency’s new emission rules for power plants.

Focusing on Clean ‘Not Enough’

The letter signed by 626 state and local officials from nearly three dozen states, including 177 state legislators, 278 local elected officials and 148 Democratic Party officials, argues an energy policy, “focused on clean is not enough,” rather energy production must be affordable and reliable. Such a focus has driven environmental progress for decades and this, instead of the EPA’s regulations, is what continues to be needed to spark a new energy technology revolution necessary to improve fossil fuel energy use in the developing world and the U.S.

The letter notes the EPA emission rules effectively ban clean coal technologies by making them cost prohibitive.

The letter states, “The American people will object, and other nations of the world will not follow, if the path we chart is one of more expensive, less reliable energy.”

“True leadership requires the pursuit of policies that will make all forms of clean energy less expensive, be they renewable or fossil-based, and as reliable as current baseload coal-fired generation,” reads the letter.

Need ‘Affordable, Reliable’ Energy

The Washington Examiner quotes former U.S. Rep. Zack Space (D-OH), chairman of CoalBlue, saying “If we are going to provide real leadership in the world community on climate, we cannot begin by implementing policies that have no hope of succeeding outside of the United States, or possibly even within the United States.”

“The EPA, while well intentioned, has lost sight of the importance of preserving affordable and reliable energy in its pursuit of clean energy,” Space told the Examiner. “As such, it has put forth policies that other nations, particularly in the developing world, are unlikely to follow, and that risk the loss of support at home.”

Delivered November 24, 2015, CoalBlue’s letter was timed to inform President Obama’s message delivered at the United Nations conference in Paris, which began Nov. 30.

See the article here.

The EPA’s Scandalous December

Via The Hill:

The Environmental Protection Agency has been very, very naughty this Christmas.

Lucky for the rogue agency, an especially boisterous December news cycle kept the EPA’s prolific misbehavior off the front pages. Nonetheless, the month saw several unrelated developments all involving unethical—and sometimes, possibly illegal—behavior at the EPA.

The first bombshell emerged on December 14, as the Government Accountability Office issued a report finding that the EPA had violated federal law by conducting a “covert propaganda” campaign in support of the Clean Water Rule.

Some background: In the spring of 2014, the EPA sought to “clarify” which waterways are subject to federal jurisdiction. No surprise, the EPA suddenly discovered it should have newfound control over millions of acres of private property.

This power-grab met immediate opposition from diverse corners, including homebuilders, family farmers, manufacturers and even golf courses, which feared an onslaught of permitting requirements, inspections and other hassles. By the summer of 2015, a whopping 27 states had decided to sue the EPA over the Clean Water Rule.

With such throaty protest doubtless in mind, the EPA launched an aggressive social-media campaign, using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and even Thunderclap to promote the Clean Water Rule. In doing so, the GAO concluded, it had attempted to covertly influence public opinion, also using taxpayer dollars in a lobbying effort—even though federal law forbids agencies from engaging in such activity.

But that’s just one instance of the EPA’s questionable activity.

Another scandal has been brewing at the agency since August, when an EPA cleanup crew botched a job at Colorado’s Gold King mine, unleashing millions gallons of chemical-tainted water into the Animas River, causing it to turn bright yellow.

Already, a report by the Department of Interior suggests the EPA lied about its role in the disaster. The EPA initially claimed the blowout was “likely inevitable” – but ederal investigators reported in October that the agency knew beforehand about the risks of a mine cleanup and chose to rush forward anyway, ignoring recommended precautions.

Then, on Dec. 18, the House Committee on Natural Resources wrote a letter highlighting how “three EPA employees with close ties to the agency’s public response to the Gold King Mine spill” had interviewed key witnesses in early December, several weeks before the Inspector General planned to issue a report on the disaster.

The EPA used those interviews with key witnesses to issue an addendum document that it said could help “clarify any misunderstandings about the incident.”

The Committee did not appreciate such a story-spinning intrusion from the EPA. “Specifically,” the letter says, “the Committee is concerned the EPA’s interview did not follow best investigative practices and may have interfered with the OIG’s ongoing investigation.”

The EPA’s problems keep piling up, too. Just a day after the Committee’s letter—and still just one week after the GAO issued its unrelated report on EPA’s legal shortcomings– the Wall Street Journal editorial page broke news of fresh EPA emails obtained by ninja public-records lawyer Chris Horner.

The most shocking discovery in the batch: Regulators and green lobbyists secretly worked together to write regulations specifically intended to drive coal-fired power plants out of business. An EPA official—who, incidentally, had once worked as lawyer for green groups—sought feedback on regulatory drafts from environmental groups, using his private email account for the exchange and never docketing the conversation.

As the Journal noted, this sneak partnership on regulation raises serious questions about whether the EPA violated both the Administrative Procedures Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act, both of which govern collaboration between federal agencies and private special-interest groups.

Add it to the list.

There’s a bitter irony in the EPA’s eyebrow-raising actions, given how hell-bent it has been on strangling everyone else in red tape. As of last summer, the EPA had issued a mind-blowing 3,373 new regulations under the Obama administration, codifying them in a staggering 29,770 pages of new policies.

(That’s the equivalent of reading Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight more than 54 times. The jury’s still out on which is the more unpleasant experience.)

At the overzealous EPA, the rules apparently don’t apply. Taken together, the EPA’s December highlight reel shows an agency operating with wanton disregard for ethics, best practices, and even the law.

See the article here.

Morrisey Urges Stay of Clean Power Plan

Via The Register-Herald:

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Wednesday he has joined 25 other state attorneys general in pressing for a stay of the Clean Power Plan.

“The (Environmental Protection Agency) keeps pushing these regulations out and in some respects, even if they don’t win in court, the damage will be done,” Morrisey said. If the rules go into effect while a court case to prove them illegal is pending, they essentially become the rules, he said.

 Morrisey said he understands even a stay on the Clean Power Plan, which will reduce carbon emissions by 2030, may not help the lagging coal industry pick up to previous levels.

“But it starts to inject a sense of hope in people that there is a future, that there is still a role for coal,” he said. “It’s still going to be important for the state, before we diversify; it’s always best to be doing so from a position of strength where we have jobs.”

In a media release from Morrisey’s office, the attorney general says the Clean Power Plan “exceeds the EPA’s authority by double regulating coal-fired power plants and by forcing states to fundamentally alter their energy portfolios and shift away from coal-fired generation.”

Having state-by-state standards is prohibited, Morrisey said.

“The EPA is designed to serve as an environmental regulator and not to determine how much energy is used in each state,” he said. “Environmental regulation is different than determining certain levels of emission on coal, which are going to effectively dial coal out.”

West Virginia and Texas filed suit against the Obama administration in October, the day the rule was published by the EPA. Wednesday’s brief responded to EPA arguments filed Dec. 3.

“This has to stop,” Morrisey said. “We urge the court to take quick action and stop the continued implementation of this rule until the court has adequate time to hear our evidence and has an opportunity to decide this case on its merits.”

Morrisey said southern West Virginia needs more energy and resources because of recent coal mine layoffs. Alpha Natural Resources recently sent pink slips to 138 miners in Raleigh and Boone counties.

“Every single family has some tie to coal in southern West Virginia,” Morrisey said. “I think it’s still important to put energy into preserving those jobs.”

Morrisey said he believes the EPA cannot expand carbon emissions regulations without congressional approval.

See the article here.

 

Wyoming Petitions EPA to Reconsider Coal-fired Plant Rule

Via The Billings Gazette:

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its new rule regulating emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.

The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office on Mead’s orders petitioned the EPA on Monday to reconsider. Wyoming is the nation’s leading coal-producing state and state officials are increasingly concerned about falling coal revenues.

Wyoming’s petition claims the final EPA rule is stricter than an earlier draft. The state says it should have a right to comment on the changes.

Wyoming and other states have filed legal challenges to various EPA rules seeking to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing coal-fired plants. While the EPA says the regulations are necessary to combat climate change, the states claim the regulations would effectively prohibit all coal-fired plants.

See the article here.

The People’s Priorities

Via The Houston Herald:

This week, without my support, Congress voted to fund the government for another year. The 2,009-page bill negotiated behind closed doors was a bad deal for rural America and a bad deal for southeast and south central Missouri. Simply put, this legislation funded more priorities for the president, than for the folks back home.

The funding bill fell short in efforts to rein in the out of control EPA and to defund job killing regulations done by presidential order. Not reducing EPA funding by even $1 is simply unacceptable. The refusal to include efforts to defund the catastrophic Waters of the U.S. regulation, the President’s new Power Plan, Ambient Air Quality regulations or new Washington rules on wood burning stoves are just some examples of concern. The EPA’s disastrous combination of new rules and regulations place extreme burdens on Missouri families and job creators. These rules are simply going to force businesses to shut down and Congress should be using the power of the purse to fight back.

The EPA’s proposed Waters of the United States rule could allow the EPA to regulate nearly every area of the ground that gets wet or has flow during rainfall. The new Presidential Power Plan sets new untested coal standards, drastically increasing the cost of power for the main source used to keep the lights on across Missouri. In our state, 83 percent of our energy comes from coal power. The EPA’s new National Ambient Air Quality Standards is a regulation The Center for Regulatory Solutions is calling the most expensive regulation in U.S. history. Unfortunately with this government funding bill we missed an opportunity to address any of these new Washington regulations.

There is no doubt this legislation included both good and bad components – but in my judgement the bad trumped the good. I appreciated efforts within the legislation to repeal costly COOL requirements important to our nation’s farmers and reforms made to our Visa Waiver Program, but I was hopeful for the inclusion of stronger pro-life language. Of additional alarm, there was a failure to include important provisions previously passed by the House which provided greater security to the residents of Missouri by certifying that proper screening is taking place before any new refugees are allowed into this country. Rather than waiting years for the courts to decide whether or not the president can grant national amnesty with the stroke of a pen, we should be using the fact that Congress appropriates all federal funding to put an end to those efforts right now.

Congress must use the power of the purse to reflect the priorities of the people. I voted ‘NO’ because this bill represented more business as usual in Washington – it did not live up to promises I have made to you of greater transparency, pushing back against a regulation happy White House and advancing priorities important to those back home.

See the article here.

Bevin Administration Challenges EPA Rule

Via The Richmond Register: 

FRANKFORT — In one of his first actions as Secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet, Charles Snavely has filed a petition challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan to reduce emissions from power plants.

Snavely wrote EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, claiming the final rule — known as 111 (d) — is significantly different from the originally proposed rule on which Kentucky and other states commented.

 “Many of these changes are so dramatic and unanticipated that it would have been impractical, if not impossible, for the commonwealth to raise objections about these changes during the public comment period,” Snavely wrote in the petition.

Snavely, who was appointed to his position by Gov. Matt Bevin, spent 35 years in the coal industry working for Arch Coal, ICG, James River and A.T. Massey and he was serving as treasurer for the Kentucky Coal Association at the time of his appointment.

Snavely’s predecessor, Len Peters, drew criticism from KCA over his intention to write a state plan to comply with the new emission rules — although Peters, too, was critical of the final rule which set more ambitious goals for reducing carbon emissions.

The petition argues that the goals changed so dramatically that Kentucky and other states were effectively unable to comment.

It also contends EPA failed to do a state specific cost-benefit analysis to determine the rule’s impact on individual states.

“Moreover, EPA failed to do a state-by-state cost-benefit analysis, and these targets were set without considering those state-specific impacts,” Snavely’s petition said. “Sate-by-state cost-benefit analysis will demonstrate that the targets for Kentucky have a devastating effect on ratepayers, the economy, and the standard of living in the commonwealth and other similarly situated states. We urge the EPA to reconsider altering the carbon emission targets so dramatically without allowing for meaningful public comment.”

In an interview with CNHI recently Snavely said the state response to the Clean Power Plan was “policy issue number one. It’s more urgent right now than anything else.”

Snavely told CNHI the rule is an economic issue because “no matter what approach one takes to this Clean Power Plan, it is going to raise costs for electricity . . . and will have an impact on manufacturing.”

Bevin said during the campaign he would not submit a state plan to comply with the rule. Snavely said several stakeholders with whom he’s discussed the issue think there’s less risk to a state plan than one imposed by the federal government but said he’d reached no conclusion on the question himself.

The plan calls for an overall reduction in carbon emissions from power plants of 32 percent by the year 2030, with specific goals for individual states. The goal for Kentucky increased from 18 percent to 30 percent from the original proposal to the final rule.

Kentucky is one of several states that have filed suit challenging the plan.

 

See the article here.

 

Kentucky Mounts New Clean Power Plan Challenge

Via The Courier-Journal: 

Kentucky’s new top environmental regulator, recently retired from working for the coal industry, has filed a challenge to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s landmark Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first rules to curb power plant pollution blamed for causing climate change.

Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely, a former Arch Coal executive, sent a petition to the EPA Monday calling for reconsideration of the carbon dioxide rules. On behalf of the new Matt Bevin administration, Snavely writes that EPA changed so much of the Clean Power Plan between its initial proposal and final rules that Kentucky was unable to effectively participate in the federal agency’s public comment period.

Specifically, the challenge states, the public was not able to raise objections to provisions that were included in the final plan, but were not part of the government’s initial proposal.

“The EPA should convene a proceeding for reconsideration of the rule … so that the public has the opportunity to make meaningful comment on these issues,” Snavely wrote.

The Energy and Environment Cabinet also claims that the EPA failed to do a state-by-state cost-benefit analysis and that its state-by-state targets were set without considering fiscal consequences.

Louisville environmental attorney Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council, agreed that there was a big difference between the proposed and final rules, and said the energy cabinet may have a legitimate legal point to make with its new petition to the EPA. But he also said EPA attorneys clearly felt they were following the requirements of the Clean Air Act, and that overall, he believes the Clean Power Plan can survive a legal challenge.

Eventually, he said, the public comment question will probably be for a judge to answer as part of litigation against the rule.

Kentucky, Indiana and other states have already filed a lawsuit challenging the power plant regulations, which seek an overall 32 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Each state has its own targets and is responsible for coming up with a plan to meet them. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky and Senate Majority Leader, has called on states to defy the EPA and hold off on developing a compliance plan.

See the article here.

EPA Critics Throw Down Gauntlet in Legal Fight

Via E&E Publishing:

The many foes of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan are preparing to attack the Obama administration on a host of legal fronts as the court battle over the embattled rule gets underway.

States, industries and other groups challenging the rule to clamp down on power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions laid out their legal strategies in documents sent to a federal appeals court last week.

Among their key accusations: EPA illegally issued duplicative rules for coal-fired power plants; the rule infringes on states’ rights; the agency intrudes on federal energy regulators’ turf; and EPA doesn’t have the authority to force states to transform their energy systems to favor certain sources of electricity.

The themes are familiar.

In these latest filings, EPA’s critics are previewing the arguments they’ll make when the judges dig into the merits of the case.

Central to their arguments is the contention that EPA’s climate rule illegally regulates power plants under two sections of the Clean Air Act.

The Clean Power Plan regulates existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the clean air law. But two versions of that section were signed into law, one from the Senate and one from the House. Critics of the EPA rule contend that one version bars EPA from issuing standards under 111(d) for sources of pollution already covered by other regulations. A 2011 Obama administration rule regulates power plants under Section 112 of the clean air law, so foes of the climate rules say the 111(d) regulation is unlawful.

That issue was the first one raised in several of the court filings last week, including those submitted by North Dakota, the National Mining Association, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and a coalition of 24 states led by West Virginia.

Although EPA’s opponents see that argument as a winner, the Obama administration and its allies argue the other version of Section 111(d) — the one that originated in the Senate — says only that EPA cannot redundantly regulate a pollutant. That would allow its greenhouse gas rule. They also say the two versions are ambiguous and that the agency deserves deference from the court in interpreting unclear statutory language.

Challengers have a host of other arguments planned, including questioning EPA’s authority to regulate “beyond the fence line” of power plants.

Electric utility groups including the Utility Air Regulatory Group and the American Public Power Association plan to attack EPA’s authority to “require the curtailment or closure of affected facilities and replacement of their generation by EPA-preferred sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric power, rather than relying on feasible improvements in emissions performance of existing fossil fuel-fired” utilities, according to the list of issues they submitted.

The National Mining Association will question whether EPA “has the authority to force states to transform their energy economies to favor only certain sources of electricity, under the guise of regulating power plants.”

Several petitioners, including Murray Energy Corp., plan to argue that EPA’s rule intrudes on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s authority to regulate the interstate electricity market.

The coalition of states led by West Virginia also raised a number of state-specific legal questions. Among them: Was EPA’s treatment of nuclear energy sources in Arkansas illegal? Does the rule unlawfully limit fuel diversity in New Jersey, thereby presenting reliability and cost concerns? Was Texas illegally punished in the area of wind energy under the rule? And did EPA fail to consider the impact of the rule throughout Wyoming on the greater sage grouse and other “sensitive species”?

The conservative group Energy & Environment Legal Institute plans to question whether EPA allowed personnel “with conflicts of interest to draft the rule and failed to recuse decisionmakers with ‘unalterably closed minds’ from reaching the determination to implement the final rule.”

EPA and its supporters in the lawsuit, meanwhile, have long insisted that the rule will withstand the court’s scrutiny.

“I fully feel that once we get to the merits of this case, the agency is going to be in good shape,” EPA general counsel Avi Garbow said earlier this fall. “We are quite proud of what we’ve done with the Clean Power Plan, and now the eyes are on the lawyers in many respects to ensure that we can defend it.”

See the article here.

Clean Power Plan Would Slam Local, Regional Economies, Committee Told

Via The Benson News-Sun:

BENSON — Costs associated with the implementation and compliance of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would devastate an already impoverished region creating a double whammy on the residents least able to shoulder that expense.

That much and more was relayed to members of the Joint Legislative Review Committee on State Plans Relating to Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Existing Power Plants who were on a fact-finding trip Thursday in Benson.

The hearing and visit enabled members to see and hear of the local and regional impacts that would be derived from the CPP, which aims to cut carbon pollutants in a bold transition toward reliance from coal-fired power generation to natural gas powered facilities.

Assembled in the Board Room of Arizona’s G&T Cooperatives, committee members heard testimony from the heads of AzG&T, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, Southeast Arizona Economic Development Group and the Small Business Development Center.

Patrick Ledger and Creden Huber, CEOs of AzG&T and SSVEC respectively, George Scott, executive director of SEADG and Mark Schmitt, of SBDC, addressed the committee, and all spoke of the crippling effects that would be thrust upon their entities and the region as a result of the CPP.

Each labeled the plan as “government overreach,” employed behind a “one-size- fits-all-approach” without consideration of the tangible variables that exist in rural areas, key among them declining population base and bleak job-prospect outlook. Factor in that much of the region — rural municipalities in particular — remain mired within the grip of The Great Recession only exacerbates the hardship already endured by many rural residents.

Because rural America has been reliant upon coal-fired generation for so long, many plants, including Cochise, lack the infrastructure required for all-out natural gas-powered facilities. And the costs to accomplish that, Ledger explained, is in addition to considerable expense already incurred by the cooperatives with regard to other EPA mandates.

“We have already made substantial investments in reducing emissions and will be investing more than $32 million to meet the EPA’s regional haze requirements by converting one of our two coal units to natural gas. While this will significantly reduce coal as a part of our generation mix and correspond to reduced carbon emissions, it will still not be enough to meet the goals EPA is proposing,” Ledger said. He added that, depending on how the rule is implemented, it could cost co-op members an additional $223 a year.

Committee Co-Chair Griffin, of Hereford and who represents LD 14, said the committee would return at a later date to hear additional testimony, while stressing the importance of getting one’s voice heard.

“Everybody needs to be involved in this issue because it affects our rural areas and our rural economies, both directly and indirectly,” Griffin said.

The committee was formed to ensure the state was prepared to deal with the final rule.

“In the absence of state action, EPA is proposing a federal implementation plan that does not provide the same amount of flexibility a state can utilize in their own state plan,” said Phil Bashaw, Director of Government Relations and Grassroots Advocacy at Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association (GCSECA).

Final rules of the CPP call for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from coal-fired plants by 2030. It’s a more rigorous version of the plan that was initially proposed and one which calls for power companies to cut nearly one-third of carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030, with most of that reduction, more than 90 percent, accomplished by 2020.

See the article here.

Yes, AG Cynthia Coffman is Right to Sue Over EPA Clean Power Plan

Via The Denver Post: 

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman deserves praise for joining a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general challenging the legality of the Environmental Protection Agency’s expensive carbon plan for new and existing power plants. Gov. John Hickenlooper’s attempt to cut her legs out from underneath her in court is the exact opposite of commendable.

The fact that Hickenlooper disagrees with Coffman and has chosen to side with the Obama administration against the interests of Coloradans is his prerogative. But to try to strip or circumvent the constitutional authority of the attorney general to represent the interests of the people of Colorado in litigation against the federal government is not only legally flawed, it’s also just plain wrong. The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to decline Hickenlooper’s petition challenging the legality of Coffman’s lawsuit to stop implementation of federal regulations that exceed the EPA’s authority is an opportunity for the governor to re-evaluate his position.

What’s really at stake is an attempt to stop the federal government from once again harming Coloradans. The environmental disaster on the Animas River caused by the EPA is just the latest example of what happens when Washington, D.C., bureaucrats run amok. That blunder, however, could be small potatoes compared to the damage the EPA’s illegal and expensive carbon rule will do to our state.

Not only will the agency’s plan cause electricity prices to soar and have a disastrous impact on our economy, it will also completely strip our right, as afforded by the constitution, to have the state regulate electricity production. The EPA’s plan is an illegal and overreaching attempt to usurp Colorado’s power and regulate how we produce electricity. Twenty-five other states agree, and Coffman is joining them to fight back in court. Hickenlooper, however, wants to force Coffman to stand down and instead would have her turn Colorado’s decision-making authority over to bureaucrats in Washington who have no idea what’s best for our state.

If Hickenlooper has his way, affordable energy for Colorado consumers will be a thing of the past. The EPA’s plan will be especially disastrous in our state, where coal — the prime target of the proposed policy change — not only provides consumers and businesses with 64 percent of the electricity they use, it also is the source of thousands of jobs in numerous local communities on our Western Slope. By forcing our state away from coal-based electricity and to less reliable, more expensive forms of energy, we will all pay through the nose in the form of skyrocketing electricity bills.

Gov. Hickenlooper needs to wake up to the reality of how the EPA’s proposal will affect the 44 percent of all Colorado households that are low- or middle-income. Electricity price hikes — up to 31 percent, according to recent analysis — will be devastating for these families who spend an average of 17 percent of their after-tax income on energy costs.

Rather than choosing to play politics while Colorado’s future hangs in the balance, or continuing to pursue this fight against the attorney general in lower courts, Hickenlooper should respect the attorney general’s constitutional prerogatives and her independent responsibilities to the voters who elected her. He has no authority to derail her fight against this illegal and costly EPA rule.

Coffman is doing the right thing by fighting this EPA rule. She deserves the support of every Coloradan — especially our governor.

See the article here.

Despite the Paris Enviro-piffle, Coal is Still King

Via The New York Post:

History, on the “right side” of which Barack Obama endeavors to keep us, has a sense of whimsy. Proof of which is something happening this week: Britain’s last deep-pit coal mine is closing, a small event pertinent to an enormous event, the Industrial Revolution, which was ignited by British coal.

The mine closure should not, however, occasion cartwheels by the climate’s saviors, fresh from their Paris achievement. The mine is primarily a casualty of declining coal prices, a result of burgeoning world energy supplies. Thanks largely to the developing world, demand for coal is expected to increase for at least another quarter-century.

The mine is closing immediately after the planet’s latest “turning point” — the 21st UN climate change conference since 1995, each heralded as a “turning point.” The climate conference, like God in Genesis, looked upon its work and found it very good.

It did so in spite of, or perhaps because of, this fact: Any agreement about anything involving nearly 200 nations will necessarily be primarily aspirational, exhorting voluntary compliance with inconsequential expectations — to “report” on this and “monitor” that.

A single word change that brought the agreement to fruition: It replaced a command (nations “shall” do so and so) with an entreaty (nations “should” do so and so).

Secretary of State John Kerry knew that any agreement requiring US expenditures and restrictions on wealth creation would founder on the reef of representative government.

He remembers why Bill Clinton flinched from seeking Senate ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol: The Senate voted 95-0 for a resolution disapproving the Protocol’s principles, with Massachusetts Sen. Kerry among the 95.

Eighteen years later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of whose invaluable functions is to be a wet blanket about moveable feasts such as the Paris conference, says: “Before [the president’s] international partners pop the champagne, they should remember that this is an unattainable deal based on a [US] domestic energy plan that is likely illegal, that half the states have sued to halt, and that Congress has already voted to reject.”

But as the ink dries on the Paris gesture of right-mindedness, let us praise the solar energy source most responsible for the surge of human betterment that began with the harnessing of fossil fuels around 1800.
The source is, of course, coal, a still abundant and indispensable form in which the sun’s energy has been captured from carbon-based life.

Matt Ridley, a member of a British coal-producing family and author of “The Rational Optimist,” notes that the path of mankind’s progress, material as well as moral, has been from reliance on renewable but insufficient energy sources to today’s 85 percent reliance on energy from fossil fuels.

The progression has been from reliance on human (often slaves’) muscles, to animal energy (first oxen, then horses), to burning wood and peat as stores of sunlight, to energy from water and wind, to, at last, fossil fuels.

Sustained economic growth, a necessary prerequisite for scientific and technological dynamism, became possible, Ridley writes, when humanity was able to rely on “non-renewable, non-green, non-clean power.”

Because “there appeared from underground a near-magical substance,” Britain’s landscape was spared: “Coal gave Britain fuel equivalent to the output of 15 million extra acres of forest to burn, an area nearly the size of Scotland. By 1870, the burning of coal in Britain was generating as many calories as would have been expended by 850 million laborers . . . The capacity of the country’s steam engines alone was equivalent to 6 million horses or 40 million men.”

And cheap coal produced the iron for new labor-saving machines. The environmental toll from burning coal (it emits carbon dioxide, radioactivity and mercury) has been slight relative to the environmental and other blessings from burning it.

In May 1945, Aneurin Bevan, a leading light among British socialists, said: “This island is made mainly of coal and surrounded by fish. Only an organizing genius could produce a shortage of coal and fish at the same time.”

Genius was not required. Socialism — command-and-control government of the sort that climate fine-tuners recommend for the entire planet — soon accomplished this marvel, with coal rationed and the price of fish soaring.

See the article here.

Obama’s Power Plan is a Costly Mistake

Via The Spectrum: 

Now that President Obama has spoken at a United Nations summit on global warming, it’s time to consider the specifics of his new climate campaign.

In the run-up to the UN conference, the president announced a “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) that would curb carbon dioxide emissions from America’s power plants. It’s an effort that has bolstered the president’s credentials as a climate leader. But the specifics of his plan would require 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 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 (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 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.

See the article here.

Santa Baby, Bring Me Coal

Via Townhall.com: 

I want coal for Christmas, and not because I’ve been a naughty girl. I want coal so I can affordably power up the high-tech toys Santa is bringing me, including an electronic butler who cleans and cooks and a modern, coal-fired steam locomotive that will allow me to bypass the TSA Snooper Troopers when I travel cross-country.

OK, so Santa probably won’t be sending a full-size coal-fired train down my chimney. But, like many of you, I may receive small electronics as gifts. As millions of us ring in the New Year by adding new gadgets to the power grid, we’ll need ample electricity to fire-up our cutting edge smartphones, sound systems and gaming consoles.

Americans currently get around 40% of their electricity from coal. We require coal to stay warm by running our furnaces—without going bankrupt—and to keep our ovens on as we celebrate the reason for the season with honeyed ham, buttery mashed potatoes and frosted sugar cookies.

Coal has historically created millions of well-paying jobs for miners around the world (who can make upwards of $30 an hour). Meanwhile, the coal industry provides a safe and affordable form of energy so that everyone—healthy or sick; educated or illiterate; rich or poor—may access basic living necessities like light and heat.

Last week, President Obama met global leaders in Paris for the 2015 Climate Summit. ABC News called coal the Summit’s “elephant in the room” before admitting: “All our energy derives from the sun, including fossil fuels that merely are reservoirs of solar energy from eons ago.”

Wait a minute… if coal power is a form of solar energy, then why is President Obama utilizing the EPA to crush the industry with excessive rules? “Human beings disrupt the climate,” Obama claimed in Paris. If any humans are to blame for disrupting nature, it is humans within the EPA and the government—not everyday Americans. Let me explain…

Why Solar Is On The Naughty List

Energy prices increase for poor people when utilities rely on solar. For example in my home state of Minnesota, the largest power company—Xcel Energy—is proposing to raise electric rates by 9.8% over three years. The average family would see their annual electricity costs increase by $132—a hefty sum when you consider that over half of working Americans make less than $30,000 a year. Xcel Energy says it must raise rates in part due to government-mandated: “investments in cleaner energy.” (Minnesota law now requires that all utilities obtain 25% of their electricity from alternative sources by 2025.) Go figure.

Solar is often touted as an alternative to coal. Proponents claim that the price of solar has fallen, making it competitive. Not so, as I explain below. Furthermore, solar still does not provide reliable or affordable base load energy (power 24 hours a day) like coal or nuclear power. Finally, folks complaining about Donald Trump’s use of eminent domain should investigate our federal government’s routine subsidization of solar projects that permanently destroy thousands of acres of pristine land.

Western Lands Project founder and director Janine Blaeloch writes in the New York Times that solar projects are devastating public land and natural habitats—while failing to generate dependable power. She warns: “hundreds of thousands of acres of our pubic land… cannot be returned to their previous state; conversion is total and permanent, even though most [industrial solar and wind] projects will generate power for only 15 to 30 years.” By the way, Blaeloch is a self-described believer in a “climate crisis.” She simply happens to be willing to admit the truth about solar power’s shortcomings.

A “Poop Plant” in a Pear Tree… and Other Horror Stories

Politicians have a frighteningly terrible track record at investing your dollars in reducing emissions. For example, our federal government gave $8 million to the Minnesota Municipal Power Company to build a biomass plant before the company demonstrated its ability to convert agricultural waste into energy.Locals who live nearby now call the malodorous refinery a “giant poop plant,” complaining that the strong smells have caused them to grow nauseous and even vomit.

Two years after going live in 2013, the $45 million plant operates at only 12% of its capacity. Most waste converters reach at least “50% of their operating capacity in a few months,” according to Iowa State University Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department’s Dan Anderson.

Plant executive Derick Dahlen of Avant Energy told the Star Tribune this fall that he would be “very happy” if the plant reached operating capacity in “six years.” Why wouldn’t he? He received a portion of an $11 million fee to set up the plant: the longer the plant appears to be functional, the longer he can pretend to be useful.

Dahlen’s sweet-talking seems to pay off in hardware as well as in dollars. The American Biogas Council just awarded his plant “Biogas Project of the Year.” You can smell the cronyism from a mile away.

A second story: the EPA’s annual budget exceeds $8 billion yet the EPA twice refused to fund the technology invented by a man named Dan Carder who blew the whistle on Volkswagen’s emissions problems. According to TIME, Carder built his technology with only $69,000 in grant money from the International Council on Clean Transportation. Meanwhile, the EPA was busy dumping millions of gallons of mine waste into the Animas and San Juan rivers.

A third story: coal-rich states like Minnesota are encouraging residents to invest in subsidized solar gardens in exchange for a reduced energy bill. The catch, according to the Star Tribune, is: “the exclusion of financially strapped people who could benefit most from the savings. That’s because solar garden companies, and their lenders, only want customers with good credit scores.”

Coal Power Ends Poverty Without Harming Nature

Coal is cheap, and therefore does not discriminate against poor people. It’s about time that jet-setting elites stop discriminating against the most financially vulnerable among us. India, for example, sees coal as its only hope for providing power for its 260 million citizens living without electricity and millions more who have unreliable power. Even as Obama pontificated in Paris, India was building Asia’s largest coal mine, the Magadh project in Jharkhand.

Developing nations like India mine their own ancient solar-powered fuel—coal—to provide a better life for their citizens. Meanwhile, developed nations like the U.S. are proposing carbon taxes to force people to live the “right way.” The sad truth is that wealthy people will be unaffected by energy price increases. Carbon taxes are unjust because they single-handedly hurt impoverished people.

Climate alarmists claim that coal is the largest source of man-made carbon emissions. Scientists who represent over 14 different countries as members of the Nongovernmental International Panel On Climate Change confirmed for me that they fact-checked all of the UN-sanctioned reports and found that there is “no hard evidence” of “dangerous human-caused warming.”

Only rich economies can afford to experiment with energy. It’s clear from the examples given above that even the world’s richest nation, the United States, struggles to convert natural resources like livestock fecal waste and sunlight into energy—without damaging hundreds of thousands of acres of land and natural animal habitats. Coal plays a key role in a safe, affordable and reliable power grid that will lift the world’s hungry, sick, cold and impoverished out of their misery.

Santa Baby, there’s one thing I really do need, the deed, to a coal mine, Santa Baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

See the article here.

Not So Fast: EPA Chief’s Coal Comments Unhinged from Reality

Via the Institute for 21st Century Energy:

By: Dan Byers

As we have repeatedly warned, an “air of unreality” is permeating the COP 21 climate talks.  Any agreements reached later this week will have little or no impact on what actually happens in the real world. On Thursday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy joined the party with some unreal comments of her own about the use of coal. While in Paris lobbying for a deal with numerous other Obama Administration cabinet officials, McCarthy stated in an online Q&A session that [emphasis added]: “We know now, however, as China does, that it’s [coal] not necessarily the path to the future,” McCarthy said from Paris, where she’s taking part in the United Nations climate conference. “We know in the U.S. that we are transitioning away from coal because coal is no longer marketable. We have cleaner natural gas, and we have opportunities for low-carbon sources like renewables and using energy efficiency to lower energy demand.” …McCarthy, though, noted that other countries like China are also looking to cut [back] on their coal use as part of a proposed global pact on climate change, which officials in Paris are working to finalize this week. McCarthy would do well to have a chat with her counterpart, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz (also in Paris lobbying for a deal). His Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) is forecasting that coal as a percentage of overall domestic energy consumption will remain flat between now and 2040.

See the full article here.

Lawsuits Greet Clean Power Plan

Via Heartland.org:

Igniting what promises to be a protracted legal battle, on October 22 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its Clean Power Plan (CPP) in the Federal Register.

Crafted to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants, CPP is the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s strategy to address what it characterizes as manmade climate change. The rules require a nationwide 32 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, setting state-by-state emissions-reduction targets.

States are to submit their draft plans to EPA in 2016, with final plans due by 2018. States not submitting their own plans by the deadline will be subjected to a “federal implementation plan” designed by EPA.

Within days of the rule’s appearance in the Federal Register, 24 states and several businesses filed suit against EPA. Critics say the plan is an illegal overreach of federal power that will drive up the cost of electricity to consumers and businesses and result in the closure of coal-fired power plants that are critical for reliable electricity.

Questionable Legal Authority

“The Clean Power Plan is one of the most far-reaching energy regulations in the nation’s history,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) said in a statement. “EPA claims to have power to enact such sweeping regulations … but such legal authority simply does not exist.”

Opponents of CPP have attempted to have courts throw it out prior to its finalization, but in the summer of 2015 separate federal courts ruled litigation would have to await publication of the final plan in the Federal Register. With the rule finally published, the issue will now be debated in court and experts believe it will likely reach the Supreme Court. It could take more than two years for the courts to determine the validity of CPP.

Meanwhile, states will have to decide whether to submit implementation plans to EPA. Several states, such as Colorado, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin, have stated they will not comply with CPP.

‘Costly, Ineffective, and Illegal’

“EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan is costly, ineffective, and illegal,” said James Taylor, vice president for external affairs and senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, which publishesEnvironment & Climate News. “The plan can only reach its reductions in carbon dioxide by forcing our most affordable and readily available energy options—coal and natural gas—out of the nation’s energy mix.

“The plan is ineffective because EPA’s own data show it will mitigate less than 0.2 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century,” said Taylor. “The plan is illegal because it imposes different restrictions on different states and violates several other statutory provisions. Any way you slice it, the CPP is a disaster.”

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel (R) says the rule could increase carbon dioxide emissions.

“The reverberations of these EPA rules have the potential to increase global carbon emissions,” Schimel said. “If manufacturing moves to countries like China and India, which rely heavily on uncontrolled coal plants, there is a real potential that carbon emissions could increase globally.”

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D. (bcohen@nationalcenter.org) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.

See the article here.

Stopping the President’s Climate Slush Fund

Via the Senate Republican Policy Committee: 

  • Developing countries meeting in Paris say they could want at least $5.4 trillion by 2030 for climate mitigation and adaptation projects.

  • Developed countries, including the U.S., are pledging to contribute $100 billion annually.

  • Congress rejects the Green Climate Fund as no more than a U.N. slush fund.


This week, 196 countries that participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change continue their meeting in Paris. They plan to reach “a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2?C.” President Obama has promised to provide the UNFCCC’s Green Climate Fund with $3 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars. He has also pledged to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Other countries will welcome the president’s pledge to transfer American wealth and to constrain American prosperity in favor of subsidizing their economic growth. Those countries should not count on the president’s ability to deliver on his commitments, which do not enjoy the support of the American people.

developing-countries-want-trillions

Developing Countries want at least $5.4 Trillion

In May, the French foreign minister, who is now presiding over the Paris talks, explained that the willingness of the U.S. and other developed countries to transfer money to developing countries would play a “decisive” role in reaching an international agreement on climate change.

As of last Friday, 73 developing countries had submitted plans for how much they would reduce their own emissions. They also estimated that meeting these goals would come with a high price tag: approximately $5.4 trillion by 2030. India alone estimates that it wants $2.5 trillion by 2030. South Africa says it wants $909 billion. Iran says it wants $840 billion – and warned that its greenhouse gas pledge is entirely dependent on the removal of all sanctions.

The countries expect to pay for just $253 billion of the total themselves. Another $1 trillion would come from international sources. The countries offered no explanation of where the bulk of the money – $4.1 trillion – would come from. Presumably, they expect other countries to eventually fund that shortfall.

These huge figures do not even include the desires of at least 50 developing countries that declined to provide specific estimates. They also do not include the financial requests of another 40 developing countries that the Organisation for Cooperation and Development projected could be eligible for international assistance in the future.

A U.N. Slush Fund

In 2010, 24 developed countries that are part of the UNFCCC committed to raising $100 billion a year to help developing countries. They agreed that a “significant portion of such funding should flow through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund.” Even if developed countries are able to meet that goal, it will not satisfy the $341 billion per year the 73 developing countries say they want. The cash demands will only grow when another 90 developing countries announce how much money they expect.

Last Saturday, the World Bank Group’s special envoy for climate change conceded to Politico, “That $100 billion is not a scientific number.” She added: “The $100 billion was a political number that emerged in Copenhagen and it’s become very important because promises made should be promises kept. The true cost of what we’re trying to do is … multiple trillions of dollars. Whether it’s 90, 100, 120, 150, 160, 170 is a political discussion. It’s got no real bearing on the reality of what we’ve got to do.” Last December, the United Nations’ chief climate official admitted the same thing: “What we actually need is a trillion dollars a year.”

Not only was the $100 billion created out of thin air, even that goal is nowhere close to being met. So far, 38 countries have pledged $10.2 billion to the fund. A total of $5.9 billion have been announced, signed, and disbursed. A total of $4.3 billion – including President Obama’s pledge of $3 billion – have been announced but not yet been signed and disbursed. Last December, the head of China’s delegation at U.N. climate talks called the $10 billion in commitments announced by that time “far from adequate.” Most countries have spread out their pledges to the Green Climate Fund over four years.

Officially, the Green Climate Fund will finance “low-emission and climate-resilient projects and programmes in developing countries.” Realistically, it will operate as a slush fund for the U.N. and government officials in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere. According to one analysis in July, the top climate finance recipients of 2014 are also among the world’s most corrupt countries. India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam, Egypt, South Korea, Kenya, Thailand, and the Philippines each score as “corrupt” to “highly corrupt” on Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index.

The 10 riskiest countries for money laundering and terrorist financing, according to the International Centre for Asset Recovery’s 2015 Basel AML Index, have said they could need more than $900 billion in climate financing by 2030. Even the Green Climate Fund board includes several government officials from some of the riskiest countries for money laundering and terrorist financing.

American Financial Support is up to Congress

The American people, through their representatives in Congress, have the right to approve or disapprove any contribution of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Green Climate Fund. Earlier this year, the president requested in his fiscal year 2016 budget a first payment of $500 million toward his $3 billion pledge. In March, the Senate rejected that budget by a vote of 98 to 1. In June, House appropriators passed a bill out of committee that does not include an appropriation for the Green Climate Fund and prohibits any other appropriations from being made available for it. In July, Senate appropriators also passed a bipartisan bill out of committee that does not include an appropriation for the fund.

The likelihood that the American people will approve the promised funds in the future is doubtful. In aletter to the president last month, 37 Senators wrote: “We pledge that Congress will not allow U.S. taxpayer dollars to go to the Green Climate Fund until the forthcoming international climate agreement is submitted to the Senate for its constitutional advice and consent.” The Senators requested that the president direct his lead climate negotiator “to be forthcoming with his foreign counterparts representing developing nations in Paris about the views of members of Congress.”

Instead of being realistic with its foreign negotiating partners, the Obama administration has continued to write checks it cannot cash. As the Paris talks kicked off last week, the administration unilaterally pledged an additional $51 million in U.S. taxpayer funds for a global account that distributes climate finance to developing countries. “The Obama administration didn’t specify where the U.S. dollars would come from,” an Associated Press article noted.

President Obama spent a total of $12.8 billion of U.S. taxpayer dollars on climate finance from fiscal years 2010 to 2014, according to the State Department’s website. That includes $4.3 billion in financing for climate initiatives in developing countries, according to a February 2015 Congressional Research Service report.

Developing countries are demanding trillions of dollars in return for participating in a feel-good climate-change pact. Developed countries have been willing to pledge only a fraction of that amount, and have actually paid just a sliver of that fraction. Whatever the world’s developed countries do contribute is more likely to be squandered in countries where governance is lacking.

With the American economy stuck with paltry 2 percent growth, a national debt approaching $20 trillion, and uncertainty about how international climate funds will be used, the American people should continue to reject President Obama’s $3 billion promise. Democrats should join Republicans in protecting Americans and their hard-earned tax dollars.

See the article here.

Stream Rule Sparks Fireworks at Oversight Panel

Via E&E News:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Republicans pelted a top Interior Department official with tough, rapid-fire questions yesterday on the agency’s proposed stream protection rule.

GOP members of two panel subcommittees expressed deep skepticism toward the Obama administration’s assertion that the rule would not have a significant negative impact on the economy or mining jobs.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) asked, “How confident are you that your projection on job loss gets an A?” He added, “I talked to all my coal states, and they say this will kill them.”

Janice Schneider, assistant Interior secretary for land and minerals management, said the impact would be “minimal” and “largely offset” by compliance-related jobs. “So essentially, a wash,” she said.

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) was skeptical of any job creation. “There’s no industry in those communities except those coal jobs,” Johnson said, dismissing Schneider’s examples.

Schneider rebutted a report released by the National Mining Association that said the proposal would eliminate tens of thousands of mining jobs and put tons of coal off-limits.

Schneider said the industry-backed analysis contains “significantly flawed assumptions,” including claims that the rule would dramatically hurt underground longwall mining, which can affect land and waterways above ground.

House Republicans, mostly on the Natural Resources Committee, have been probing the rulemaking for years, particularly since leaked preliminary documents showed it could jeopardize thousands of jobs. Schneider said those documents were not accurate.

Interior Subcommittee Chairwoman Cynthia Lummis (R), from the top coal-mining state of Wyoming, urged Schneider to release an unredacted Office of Inspector General report on former Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement contractors working on the rule and claims that the agency pressed them to alter job-loss numbers.

The OIG found no wrongdoing (E&ENews PM, Dec. 20, 2013). But GOP leaders have for years been asking for an unredacted copy, which they say could contain evidence of an anti-coal agenda within the administration.

Schneider touted the president’s plan to help communities displaced by coal’s downturn and regulations, including speeding up the spending of $1 billion in abandoned coal mine funding. The administration has been looking for a sponsor for legislation.

Beyond jobs, Lummis said OSMRE “shut out the states” by not sharing rulemaking documents following the leak and before this year’s public release.

Lummis, like the mining industry, said the agency’s actions raise questions about “whether OSM followed administrative procedures in drafting the rule.”

Schneider read a list of meetings with states on the rulemaking. “We are really trying to make sure that we understand and hear directly with state regulatory authorities,” she said.

Lawmakers also wanted to know how the rule treats the definition of regulated waterways. Schneider said it conforms to Army Corps of Engineers definitions rather than U.S. EPA’s new disputed Clean Water Act jurisdiction rule. Critics say the rule’s relying on corps definitions could make the rule legally vulnerable.

Lummis called on Schneider to either scratch the proposal and start over or pause the process to make states more comfortable. Schneider said people still had a chance to affect the rulemaking.

Democrats raised concerns about mountaintop-removal coal mining. While the proposal would not ban the practice, it would increase reforestation and reduce buried waterways.

Interior Subcommittee ranking member Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) defended the rulemaking, saying “existing rules do not offer enough protections.” She added, “The net effect on jobs would be zero. The importance of clean water cannot be understated.”

See the article here.

How Will the Clean Power Plan Affect the Power Sector?

Via  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 

Will the Obama administration’s new rules on carbon emissions from power plants spike power prices in Pennsylvania by 26 percent? Or will electricity customers see their monthly bills decline 7 percent?

Both figures have been presented as possibilities within models touted by interest groups assessing the Clean Power Plan, an historic climate change rule finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in August.

The rule — which in essence creates a hypothetical grid that by 2030 meets power demand while emitting 32 percent less carbon dioxide than in 2005 — is complex; and every model has limitations.

But the differences among the conclusions show the wide gulf between groups on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, even on the basic underlying assumptions.

As the Clean Power Plan was presented to global leaders last week at the Paris climate change summit, the assessments, aimed at persuading state officials tasked with drawing up a plan to meet individual targets, fed divisions at home.

No cheap option

Some points of dispute are the rule’s effect on coal-fired power plants and the roles of energy efficiency and renewable technology in compliance.

“There’s no cheap option,” said Luke Popovich, vice president for external affairs at the National Mining Association. “What the administration is trying to do to is basically exchange affordable energy sources to more costly energy sources.”

See the full article here. 

Obama Power Plan Is Costly Mistake

Via The State Journal Register: 

Now that President Obama has spoken at a UN summit on global warming, it’s time to consider the specifics of his new climate campaign. In the run-up to the UN conference, the president announced a “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) that would curb carbon dioxide emissions from America’s power plants. It’s an effort that has bolstered the president’s credentials as a climate leader. But the specifics of his plan would require 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 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, 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 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.

Obama’s Costly Power Plan

Via The Southern Illinoisan: 

Now that President Obama has spoken at a United Nations summit on global warming, it’s time to consider the specifics of his new climate campaign. In the run-up to the U.N. conference, the president announced a “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) that would curb carbon dioxide emissions from America’s power plants. It’s an effort that has bolstered the president’s credentials as a climate leader. But the specifics of his plan would require 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 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 (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 believes that replacing affordable sources of electricity (like coal) with far costlier sources, such as 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.

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.

Five Major Problems with the Clean Power Plan

Via Kentucky Living.com:

As you read this today, please put aside your personal beliefs about the climate of our planet, and also put aside your political likes and dislikes. Why? Because regardless of whether you approve or disapprove of what’s going on in Washington, D.C., or in Frankfort or even your own county, the newest federal regulations for the electric utility sector will have far-reaching effects for everybody.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s final version of regulations known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP) aims to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electric utility sector by the year 2030.

The new regulations are forcing immediate decisions at power plants throughout the U.S. and will continue to affect decisions during the next 15 years. Those decisions will determine whether the lights come on and stay on—and will affect the price you pay for the electricity you use every month.

Five major problems
The Clean Power Plan requires a rapid shift away from coal toward using more natural gas at conventional power plants, and with a greater emphasis on using renewables such as wind and sunshine. It encourages generating electricity at nuclear power plants (not an option under Kentucky’s current laws) and tighter energy-efficiency standards to reduce electricity usage.

With the EPA’s August 3 release of the final Clean Power Plan, electric utility experts began carefully studying the large and small details.

Throughout the U.S. many within the electric utility industry, plus government officials in two dozen states, as well as regional and national trade associations, have identified five major problems with the new regulations.

They say the EPA’s Clean Power Plan:

  1. Contains unrealistic timetables for so many massive changes
  2. Threatens decades of previous planning
  3. Forces utility companies to make risky financial decisions
  4. Will increase the price of electricity
  5. Challenges the stability and reliability of the power grid

These five problem areas are not separate, however. Each one is tied to the other in interlocking ways. The existing power grid infrastructure that delivers safe, reliable, affordable electricity is at the heart of the American economy. Changing just one thing about the present system has far-reaching consequences. Changing a lot of things at once gets extremely complicated and expensive.

Plus a tangle of legal questions
But there’s another issue on top of the practical details. It may not be entirely legal for a federal government bureaucracy to step into the management of the power grid by using the 1970 Clean Air Act in such an unprecedented way.

When the final rule was published on October 23 in the Federal Register, 24 states acting together as a coalition—including Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, and West Virginia—filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, challenging the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Two other states filed individual lawsuits.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), which represents more than 900 member-owned electric utilities serving more than 42 million consumers in 47 states, including Kentucky, also filed a lawsuit the same day in opposition to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan regulations. Dozens of rural electric distribution co-ops and generation and transmission cooperatives, including East Kentucky Power Cooperative and Big Rivers Electric Corporation, are participating in that lawsuit.

The lawsuits ask the court to overturn the EPA’s rule and seek a “stay,” which would immediately stop its implementation while the legal challenges work their way through the courts. Additional lawsuits may be filed challenging the details of the regulations because of the vast difference between the original proposals utilities were asked to comment on last year and the final regulations announced.

Opposition within states and Congress
Further opposition and challenges to the Clean Power Plan are also proceeding within individual states and in Washington. What’s particularly messy is the overlapping timing of lawsuits and CPP deadlines. Unless the lawsuits are successful for an immediate “stay”—which would put the timetable on pause until all the cases are heard in court—it appears that states opposed to the regulations will still need to craft their implementation plans while the lawsuits are in progress.

In the meantime, Congress stepped into the battle. Using the Congressional Review Act, elected members of both the Senate and House introduced resolutions to block the EPA’s regulations.

Such resolutions only need a simple majority vote to pass, but are then subject to presidential veto, with further Congressional action to override it.

Regardless of Congressional actions, and without waiting for the first lawsuits to make their slow way through the courts, many individual states are considering the boycott option. Refusing to participate in any part of the Clean Power Plan, not submitting plans or requests, and skipping over the first set of EPA deadlines would focus attention on a different set of legal issues.

While campaigning earlier this fall, Kentucky’s now Governor-elect Matt Bevin said, “As a state, we will not comply. As governor, I will not submit that plan.”

Higher prices ahead
Coal provides roughly 40 percent of the nation’s power. But there’s a sharp contrast between the national energy picture and that in the Midwest.

In Kentucky coal generates about 90 percent of the state’s electricity. Many of Kentucky’s neighbors to the north—especially Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois—also rely heavily on coal for affordable electricity. If coal plants run shorter periods of time or are entirely shut down to meet regulations, the amount of power they formerly produced will have to come from other sources.

A short-term solution for utilities is to buy bulk power generated out-of-state, from natural gas or nuclear power plants or renewable energy.

Robert Berry, president and CEO at Big Rivers Electric Corporation, which generates and transmits electricity to three distribution co-ops serving members in 22 counties in western Kentucky, says, “We think the EPA’s Clean Power Plan could have an impact on reliability in Kentucky and throughout the region.” Transmission lines throughout the Ohio River Valley region may soon be so crowded with bulk power moving among states trying to meet the new regulations that it could be difficult to schedule additional transfers.

And buying power from other sources may be much more expensive than electricity produced using coal.

Two longer term solutions are to convert existing coal plants to natural gas or to build entirely new natural gas power plants. Power plants are expensive to build. But there are additional problems with these choices. These short- and long-term options will likely require construction of additional natural gas pipelines and high-voltage transmission lines.

All this tacks on costs, which are passed along to consumers.

Making good choices
Tony Campbell, president and CEO at East Kentucky Power Cooperative, which generates and transmits electricity to 16 electric distribution co-ops serving more than 1 million people in central and eastern Kentucky, says, “Dealing with the requirements of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is going to be challenging for all utilities in the Midwest. The first increment of reductions in carbon dioxide emissions would begin in 2022—only six years from now—and it’s going to be very, very challenging for us to make prudent decisions in such a short time frame. As a co-op we have an obligation to make sure that we can provide power for our members and to try to keep the cost of that electricity affordable. We want to manage our response to the Clean Power Plan to maximize the reliability of our system and minimize the impact on the consumer.”

See the article here.

Obama’s Climate Plan Has Short Life Expectancy

Rep. Jenkins: EPA’s Actions Cost WV Jobs

Via The Williamson Daily News:

U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) took to the House floor Monday night to urge his colleagues to vote yes this week on two resolutions disapproving of the EPA’s new regulations on new and existing coal-fired power plants.

“This week we will join together with the House to send President Obama and the EPA a strong message – no more attacks on coal. No more attacks on domestic energy. No more attacks on the people who produce energy,” he said.

Rep. Jenkins said the EPA’s regulations will not only cost thousands of coal miners their jobs but raise electricity prices on those who can least afford it.

“Not only will the EPA’s plan destroy jobs, but it will increase utility costs for consumers and lead to higher household electricity bills for all American families. Our seniors, the middle class, and Americans on fixed incomes should not have to bear the burden of increased costs. Our economy is still struggling to recover. People are struggling to survive,” Rep. Jenkins said.

Please click on the picture above

to watch Rep. Jenkins’ speech.

The full transcript is below.

“Thank you to the gentleman from Ohio, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

“Our natural resources power this nation and our economy. We have abundant, affordable resources that provide low-cost energy and give thousands of people good-paying jobs. In my district, in southern West Virginia, coal is struggling because of this administration’s anti-coal regulations. The people who mine coal and the families who depend on coal’s paychecks are suffering.

“We are at a critical point in the war on coal. I know times are tough. I see it every time I talk to a coal miner or their family. Our nation is at a turning point. We will fight for coal each and every day. But the question is, will we support jobs and domestic energy? Or will we favor an environmental agenda at the expense of our economy and our communities?

“Coal must play a critical role in an all-of-the-above domestic energy strategy. We can use our resources to create jobs here at home, provide safe and affordable energy for businesses and families alike, and reduce our dependence on energy from unfriendly nations.

“Unfortunately, it appears that the EPA and the Office of Surface Mining are dead set on bankrupting coal. They have issued rule after rule that will decimate our industry and the livelihoods of our coal miners.

“The proposed stream buffer zone rule would lead to losses of tens of thousands of direct mining jobs and hundreds of thousands of jobs linked to mining. Likewise, the EPA’s finalized regulations on coal-fired power plants will hurt our economy and drive up electricity rates for our families, seniors and small businesses. It sets unachievable emissions limits for our coal-fired power plants and forces states to adopt different energy policies or else become subject to additional federal regulations and a cap-and-trade program.

“Not only will the EPA’s plan destroy jobs, but it will increase utility costs for consumers and lead to higher household electricity bills for all American families. Our seniors, the middle class, and Americans on fixed incomes should not have to bear the burden of increased costs. Our economy is still struggling to recover. People are struggling to survive.

“Each of us here tonight has led the fight against the EPA’s overregulation and overreach. On the House Appropriations Committee, I helped to secure a provision in the Interior/EPA funding bill that would prohibit funding for the rulemaking on power plants to proceed. I was an early cosponsor of Chairman Whitfield’s resolutions to block implementation of the EPA’s coal-fired power plant rules.

“And this week we will join together with the House to send President Obama and the EPA a strong message – no more attacks on coal. No more attacks on domestic energy. No more attacks on the people who produce energy.

“We will take up resolutions to disapprove of the EPA’s new regulations on new and existing coal-fired power plants. We will also vote on a broad energy bill that will update our policies to allow America to take advantage of all of our domestic energy while strengthening our energy security and independence. Congress is standing up to this administration’s regulatory overreach.

“We must send a message to President Obama and his runaway EPA and end the war on coal. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and, again, thank you to the gentleman from Ohio for his leadership. I yield back.”

See the article here.

House Votes to Overturn Obama’s Climate Rule

Via The Hill:

The House voted Tuesday to overturn President Obama’s sweeping climate change regulations for power plants in a largely symbolic move.

The mostly party-line 242-180 vote came on the second day of a two-week climate change conference in Paris.

The legislation would block the main pillar of Obama’s climate agenda and of his pledge to the international community for the accord world leaders are writing in Paris.

 Tuesday’s vote sends the measure to Obama’s desk, after the Senate passed the legislation in November. The president has promised a veto to protect his climate priorities.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the rule in August, mandating a 32 percent cut in the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, the first limits on greenhouse gases for power plants.

It’s expected to significantly hurt the coal industry, though the EPA says it will save consumers money on their electricity bills.

The measure was passed as a resolution under the Congressional Review Act, which allows for a streamlined process for Congress to overturn major regulations.

Lawmakers also voted 235-188 to block a parallel EPA regulation setting limits on carbon emissions from newly built power plants that use coal or natural gas. That rule would require technology on coal plants to significant curtail carbon output, which the industry says would all but prevent new plants.

Both votes are a piece of the GOP’s attempts to undermine the Paris climate talks by showing that his emissions cuts do not enjoy support at home from Congress or the American public.

While Republicans know they can do little to stop the rules while Obama holds the veto pen, they feel that sending a strong signal against climate action is important.

“What the heck? This is all done in the name of climate change. Climate change has happened since God created our Earth,” said Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas).

Earlier Tuesday, Obama sought to reassure leaders that the Republicans’ actions against his climate agenda do not effect his pledges.

“My expectation is that we will absolutely be able to meet our commitments,” he told reporters in Paris shortly before leaving the conference.

“This is part of American leadership,” he said. “Because we’re the largest country, because we have the most powerful military, we should welcome the fact that we’re going to do more — and oftentimes we’re going to do it first.”

The day before, White House press secretary Josh Earnest mocked the GOP’s unwillingness to back Obama on climate.

“We’re well aware of the fact that there is an abiding hostility in the Republican conference to facts and science and evidence,” he said.

While the legislation has no chance of overturning the rule, opponents are also fighting against it in court. Republicans argue that the Obama administration exceeded its authority in issuing the regulations.

“The final rules regarding emissions from new and existing power plants are a clear executive overreach,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.).

Twenty-seven states have joined dozens of business groups and energy interests in asking the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to stop the rule’s implementation. Judges will decide as early as next month whether to temporarily block it while the litigation proceeds.

Considering the stakes of the fight over the rule, the litigation is almost certain to reach the Supreme Court.

See the article here.

Obama’s Appalachian Tragedy

Via The Wall Street Journal: 

‘The traveler comes to the Appalachians in the lovely season. He sees the hills, the streams, the foliage—but not the poor.” That passage comes from “The Other America,” Michael Harrington’s 1962 book that opened the eyes of liberal policy makers to America’s invisible poverty. The classic work helped provide the intellectual ammunition for President Lyndon Johnson’s “unconditional war on poverty,” announced in his State of the Union address two years later.

Fast forward to today. The latest touchstone of liberal policy, the regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions, is causing economic destruction and pushing poverty higher in the Appalachians. But those backing the climate-change agenda are doing their best to keep this reality hidden from the public.

Since 2012, 27 coal-mining companies with core operations in Central Appalachia, a region roughly centered in southern West Virginia, have filed for bankruptcy protection. The list includes a number of large-cap, publicly traded entities, such as Alpha Natural Resources, James River Coal and Patriot Coal. Production of coal in southern West Virginia declined by 45% between the first half of 2011 and the first half of 2015, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Since 2009, 332 coal mines in West Virginia have been closed, and 9,733 jobs—roughly 35% of the industry’s total employment in the state—have been lost, figures from the West Virginia Coal Association show.

This has devastated the state’s economy. West Virginia has the highest unemployment rate in the country, 6.9% as of October, compared with 5% nationwide. The local unemployment rates for counties in the southern part of the state reach nearly 13%. West Virginia also has the lowest labor-participation rate in the country. Of West Virginians over the age of 16, only 53% have a job or are looking for work, nine percentage points below the U.S. average.

Some of West Virginia’s economic woes are structural. For instance, the state’s median age, according to the 2010 census, is 41.3—the third highest in the country. That said, there is no denying that the collapse of coal mining has increased hardship and poverty.

Environmentalists claim that coal is being killed by market forces, including a slump in global commodity prices and increased competition from cheap natural gas. Such arguments ignore the historical fact that spot prices for Henry Hub natural gas have stayed within a range of $2-$4 for the past six years, and that they were even lower in the two decades before 2001. Spot prices for Central Appalachian thermal coal now average $40-$45 a short ton, compared with an average of $30 between 1984 and 2004. The West Virginia Coal Association estimates that the state still is sitting on approximately 51 billion short tons of recoverable coal.

Corporate failures in a cyclical commodity industry are rarely noteworthy. But things are different this time. Even after rounds of cost-cutting and consolidation, coal-mining companies—including large and experienced players—continue to go bankrupt. Some are exiting chapter 11 protection only to return after several months. Others are being liquidated for the scrap value of their mining equipment. Buyers who would normally aim to turn around troubled companies are not stepping in to bid at any price.

The West Virginia coal industry is no longer dealing with cyclical pressures or the invisible hand of the market; rather, it is facing an existential regulatory threat. In its 2009 “endangerment” finding, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that greenhouse gases pose a public-health threat. Since then the EPA has put limits on carbon-dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants. Add that to tightened restrictions on mercury and other air pollutants, plus the coercive Renewable Portfolio Standard mandates at the state level.

The result is that electric utilities have opted to shut down coal-fired power plants rather than invest the capital needed to upgrade them and extend their useful life. The Energy Information Administrationprojects that over the next five to seven years roughly a third of America’s coal-fired generation capacity will be retired. Utility companies are not switching to natural gas to save on fuel; coal is still a cheaper feedstock. But these highly regulated firms see the regulatory writing on the wall.

Instead of focusing on a hypothetical “social cost of carbon,” the Obama administration should consider the real economic effect of its regulation on West Virginia. The rest of the country should speak up, since the loss of coal-fired generation will destabilize the power grid and increase the price of electricity. Oil and gas companies should pay attention, too: For the fossil-fuel industry, Central Appalachia is the canary in the coal mine.

Mr. Tice is a senior managing director and head of the Energy Capital Group at USCA Asset Management LLC.

See the article here.

How High Will Obama’s EPA regulations Drive Your Power Bill?

Via personalliberty.com:

Within the next 15 years, electricity consumers in every state — which means just about everybody in America — will be paying as much as 25 percent more than they’re paying now, thanks to President Obama’s war on coal.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce power plant carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent — mainly by setting standards that no coal-fired plant can meet — would cause double-digit rate increases in 40 states, according to National Economic Consulting Associates (NERA).

In a recent study on the long-term effects of the EPA’s climate plan, NERA forecast “annual U.S. retail electricity rate increases range from 11%/year to 14%/year” through 2033, and, “[f]or the overall economy, losses to U.S. consumers range from $64 billion to $79 billion on a present value basis over the same time period.”

An economic impact analysis carried out by Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA) is even more dire, predicting “[d]ouble digit wholesale electricity price increases in 46 states,” including increases of 25 percent or more in 16 states.

That study, backed by the mining industry, found states in the central and eastern U.S., where coal-fired plants abound, would see the greatest cost increases. West Virginia would be hardest hit, with a projected increase of 29.8 percent.

costmap

EVA also noted that the government appears to have willfully discounted the collateral costs of implementing the rule. “The findings of this analysis suggest EPA has substantially understated the CPP’s [Clean Power Plan] costs to consumers in at least three ways,” the report lists:

  • First, EPA fails to acknowledge the higher cost of natural gas required to substitute for the coal generation displaced in base load power.
  • Second, EPA fails to recognize the cost impact on natural gas customers outside the power sector.
  • Third, EPA does not fully account for the cost consumers will pay for power generation and transmission infrastructure necessary for replacing the coal generation that will be prematurely retired by the rule.

“[T]he standard set by EPA cannot be met by any existing plant in the coal power generation fleet,” the report states. That’s a crippling standard, since coal “has historically been the largest source of the nation’s base load (24/7) electricity generation and remains so today.”

So far, 26 states have joined in a lawsuit to bar the EPA from implementing the CPP rule and to have the rule overturned. In the meantime, those states are warning the Obama administration not to make any long-term international climate commitments it can’t keep, should the rule be struck down.

See the article here. 

EPA Regulations Threaten Alabamians’ Jobs, Quality of Life and Liberty

Via Yellow Hammer News.com

In 2008, Barack Obama stated that under his plan, “electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket.” Unless something is done about the plethora of mandates being instituted by his liberal EPA, we will see that become a reality in the very near future. In 2015 alone, there were six major rules that were published or that became effective. These burdensome mandates assure the death of coal-fired generation as we know it and threaten industrial growth in the South.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at these rules and find the true target of Obama’s EPA. It’s manufacturing. In Alabama and other Southern states, we are able to offer lower utility rates to support our large employers. Lowering the bottom line for our job-creators means more jobs for Alabama families. In contrast, Northern and Western states with more restrictive energy policies cannot compete with what we have to offer. It is for this reason that Obama has set out to drag us down tot the level of states that are bent on living under bad energy policy.

The means by which Obama has decided to impair our energy policy is by eliminating the use of coal. Even though our nation sits on enough coal to last us another 250 years, the Obama administration has forced us into a position where coal only comprises 40 percent of energy production, and this figure is dropping.

Power companies have spent billions of dollars to keep up with the onslaught of new regulations. Alabama Power Company will spend approximately $5 billion in the next two years in order to comply with these federal mandates, and not one kilowatt of power will be added to the mix from that enormous expense. These rules and regulations promulgated by executive agencies have the effect of being laws as if passed by the same Congress these agencies seek to bypass. This is because states and their utilities must begin expending the costs of compliance immediately, regardless of whether the rules are later struck down, in order to meet the imposed deadlines. An example of this happened in June of this year when the U.S. Supreme court overturned the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, stating that it did not take into account the cost of compliance when it was established. Unfortunately, the compliance date for this rule had passed, and utilities had already modified or shuttered a significant number of coal plants to meet the standard. And now it’s too late to reverse those decisions.

We are currently facing the implementation of one of the most costly regulations to come from the EPA, the Clean Power Plan. This plan places arbitrary limits on states for the emission of carbon dioxide from electric generation facilities and will cost consumers billions of dollars, weaken the integrity of our electrical grid, threaten the reliability of our power supply and provide little to no benefit.

This rule is predicated on so-called science that attempts to deceive the American people to believe in man-made climate change. Secretary of State John Kerry went as far as to say that if a politician does not buy in to their science, “it seems to me that they disqualify themselves fundamentally from high public office with those kinds of statements.” It’s a good thing that Secretary Kerry was not around when our founding fathers met, or we would still be paying taxes to the King and attending the National Church.

By the EPA’s own admission, these standards will only have a minimal effect on the climate. The reductions proposed by the EPA will prevent the lowering of sea levels by the thickness of three sheets of writing paper. Given these facts, this brings us back around to the question of why enact these ridiculous mandates? The answer is clearly that the Obama administration is using them to centrally plan our economy and shift industrial growth back to states that are otherwise unable to compete with the reliable, inexpensive energy we produce throughout the South.

There are some effects that we can be sure of from this plan. Reliable and cheap energy from coal and natural gas will be replaced by unreliable and expensive energy from wind and solar. One day, technology may exist that makes solar or wind competitive in the market place, but now they must rely on government subsidies, paid for with our tax dollars, to be competitive. And neither is capable of producing energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is a terrible recipe for economic growth, and the Obama administration knows it.

As President of the Public Service Commission, I have fought these mandates every step of the way. I have testified at hearings before the EPA; I have publicly staked out what has been a lonely but principled position on behalf of Alabama at proceedings conducted by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners; I have even written a letter to President Obama with my fellow commissioners. The fact of the matter is that we all need to continue to fight these overly burdensome mandates because picking winners and losers in our economy is not the American way.

The rise of our nation is largely attributable to our ability to reliably produce low-cost energy. It is the foundation for our manufacturing and technological edge in the world marketplace. We cannot allow extremists in Washington to destroy the critical advantage we have in the world. Failure to maintain this critical advantage will move us toward third world status and leave us dependent on government to provide everything for us. Then again, maybe that’s what they are trying to achieve.

See the article here.