Monthly Archives: April 2016

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

Pennsylvania Coal Industry Crushed by Needless Regulation

Via The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

For decades, Pennsylvania has proudly mined the coal that fuels American industry. During World War II, coal helped fire the steel foundries and factories that built America into the “Arsenal of Democracy.” Today, coal still supplies roughly 35 percent of U.S. power generation — more than any other single power source.

Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s coal industry faces an all-out assault from Washington. The commonwealth is one of 17 coal-producing states formally protesting the Obama administration’s Stream Protection Rule (SPR), the most recent of a fistful of regulations that could spell the end of the coal industry, with troubling consequences for the U.S. economy.

How did this battle for coal’s existence come about so suddenly? Because the Obama administration — ignoring the welfare of coal states — has moved aggressively to ensure that coal will now be kept in the ground.

The SPR, a creature of the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining (OSM), is a massive, 2,100-page regulation that expands the agency’s authority, conflicts with scores of existing laws and threatens to render the majority of America’s coal reserves off-limits to further mining.

Despite its name, the SPR has little to do with protecting streams. That’s because the agency’s own reports already show virtually all U.S. mining operations carry no off-site environmental impacts.

Instead of protecting streams, the SPR aims to protect regulators. A skeptical Congress is asking why OSM needs more funding when poor market conditions have left it with fewer mines to regulate. OSM has responded by seeking to co-opt additional authority currently shared by the states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Along with being needless and duplicative, the SPR’s language is so broad that a full reading could be used to essentially eliminate the safest and most-efficient techniques for coal mining, including longwall mining used in some of the largest coal-producing states. An independent analysis projects the loss of at least 40,000 coal-mining jobs nationwide, with total job losses throughout the U.S. coal supply chain potentially reaching 281,000 jobs.

The effect of keeping so much affordable energy in the ground would be staggering. The annual value of lost coal production could reach $29 billion, with federal and state tax revenue falling by as much as $6.4 billion annually.

Coal communities won’t be the only losers, however. Displacing affordable coal power with higher-cost alternatives will mean higher energy prices for everyone, including those who can least afford it.

It’s bad enough that the SPR is unnecessary and costly. But the Office of Surface Mining wants to impose these costs on states with which it failed to consult during six years of protracted rule-making. That explains why the agency was able to claim for itself responsibilities already carried out by states and other federal agencies.

The SPR is a rule in search of a purpose — a regulation that is more about politics than environmental protection. Pennsylvania is right to demand accountability from a federal agency that has clearly lost its way.

Hal Quinn is president of the National Mining Association.

See the article here.

The Federal Coal Moratorium – Politics Masquerading As Policy

Via Real Clear Politics:

Some Americans may not realize it, but coal still provides roughly 35% of all the electricity generated in the United States. That’s the largest share of affordable electricity from any one energy source. States that rely on coal as their primary source of power enjoy the lowest electricity costs nationwide.

Partly for that reason, coal-generated power enables them to serve as major hubs for America’s domestic manufacturers. Basic industry needs cheap, reliable power. In states with primarily coal-based power, industrial electricity prices can be two to three times lower than the power prices of competing countries. The coal advantage extends to employment; energy-intensive industries tend to offer high-wage jobs.

Unfortunately, affordable power faces a surprising opponent: our own government. The Obama Administration has announced a three-year moratorium on the leasing of coal reserves located on federal lands. Because the coal mined from these reserves accounts for 42 percent of total U.S. production, such a moratorium could eliminate a major portion of domestic coal supplies, creating less fuel diversity—with serious consequences for power generation.

A moratorium on federal coal would also deprive U.S. taxpayers of billions of dollars in revenue. Coal currently leased from federal lands has generated more than $12.6 billion in royalties, rents, and bonus payments over the past decade. States with federal coal leases would also see revenue drop, draining state budgets and forcing higher taxes or painful reductions in services. Wyoming has already warned that school funding may be cut due to falling coal revenue.

Beyond the revenue it generates, the greatest value of federal coal may be its central role in anchoring a stable, reliable mix of electricity sources. A study by IHS Energy found that the current base load generation mix anchored by coal saves ratepayers roughly $93 billion in annual electric bills while also reducing utility bill volatility by 30 percent.

The risk posed by this moratorium is bad enough but it’s all the more reckless for being unnecessary. The current coal leasing program doesn’t need major reforms, let alone a work stoppage. The present system meets standards that guarantee taxpayers receive fair market value for coal leased at auction. Multiple reviews by federal and state agencies ensure the environment is protected.

In fact, the argument that taxpayers are somehow denied a fair return from the current federal coal program falls flat. The 12.5 percent royalty paid on coal leased from federal land is approximately 40 percent higher than rates paid for coal mined on private land in the Midwest and Appalachia. Companies pay additional fees based on the coal under lease. Small wonder recent investigations by the Government Accountability Office and the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General found no reason to overhaul the program.

Undaunted, the Obama Administration has floated the idea of increasing the royalty rate for leased coal. But doing so would squeeze coal producers already operating on a tight margin. Higher royalties will discourage production, keeping affordable energy off the market and revenue from taxpayers.

Without a defensible rationale for its coal lease moratorium, we’re left with the Obama administration’s political rationale. It wants to keep faith with climate change activists who want fossil fuels to stay in the ground. But keeping faith with climate alarmists will break faith with taxpayers and consumers. They will derive zero benefit, let alone a “fair” return, when coal is locked underground.

The federal coal leasing program fairly values an important public resource and generates substantial revenue for America’s taxpayers. A move to replace the current program with costly new fees and higher royalties, or with a flat-out moratorium, serves no legitimate public purpose.

 Hal Quinn is President of the National Mining Association
See the article here.

The Green Unreality Show

Via The Wall Street Journal:

The climate deal negotiated in Paris and signed in New York Friday is not a treaty. It is not enforceable against the U.S. or anybody else. It waves vaguely at the idea of a $100 billion adjustment fund for poorer countries, to be filled in later by somebody else, maybe.

Like all such international agreements, it’s a giant PR exercise designed to put a global imprimatur on what domestic politicians want to do anyway. In China and India, that’s grow their energy output any way they can. In President Obama’s case, it’s continue to dish out green mandates and subsidies that please his entourage.

Economist Bruce Yandle coined the term bootleggers and Baptists for political coalitions of true believers and their more self-interested fellow travelers. The climate movement is the ultimate example.

Having ginned up a climate “crisis” in the first place, it’s almost as if the movement has ginned up a fake victory to keep the game going. This week’s signing was preceded by an outpouring of fishy studies in the press about how renewable energy is on the verge of solving the problem. The most paradoxical claim, regularly aired in the New York Times, is that the fate of the planet depends on how you vote in the U.S. presidential race because solar power is falling rapidly in cost and is now competitive with fossil fuels.

Well, then it doesn’t matter how you vote. Cheaper solar energy will displace fossil energy for purely economic reasons.

The fragment of truth here is that the cost of solar collectors has come down thanks to Chinese production, but this represents a small fraction of the actual cost of integrating solar into the power system.

Solar is free; the sun does not send us a bill. But solar is only competitive to the extent that fossil-fuel plants remain on hand to provide backup power when the sun is not shining. Unfortunately, fossil-fuel plant economics deteriorate rapidly when plants must stop and start to make up for fluctuating wind and solar.

This is why, for instance, Germany managed to increase its use of renewables and its output of carbon dioxide at the same time—because it resorted to cheap coal to keep the lights on at a price its people could afford.

This is why states like Iowa and Texas, which brag about their wind production, have more stubborn emissions output than do states that simply followed market signals to switch to gas from coal.

A giddy media is full of traps for the unwary. Widely touted earlier this month was a study by United Nations Environment Program claiming that renewables now represent 10% of global electricity production—never mind that more authoritative sources like the International Energy Agency and the U.S. Energy Information Administration put the figure at 7%.

UNEP also claimed that $286 billion was invested in renewables last year, more than twice the investment in new coal and gas plants. This is the Soviet habit of measuring inputs rather than outputs. Consumers get far less power per dollar of renewable investment than they get from fossil-fuel investment.

In truth, the cost of backup power not only caps solar and wind growth, renewables may already have overshot. The International Renewable Energy Agency, in a discordantly sober report, predicts that wind and solar will start shrinking their share in the fast-growing developing economies in coming years.

Now you, dear reader, are properly backgrounded on a fight going on in many U.S. states. The fight concerns the exorbitant costs imposed on other ratepayers to subsidize backup power for solar adopters.

Nevada has been a recent ground zero. A battle there enlisted utility owner Warren Buffett and solar promoter Elon Musk on opposing sides. Eventually utility regulators trimmed back generous prices paid to solar-panel owners who sell excess power back to the local utility.

Curiously, solar fans didn’t applaud. When they can’t sell their excess back to the power company at inflated prices, solar adopters would have greater incentive to invest in a battery to store it for their own use. They no longer would need backup from coal or gas. Solar would become a real competitor with the grid, not just a sinkhole for handouts. And obviated would be any nasty political arguments over how much to pillage innocent ratepayers to make solar viable.

Of course, solar promoters don’t see it this way. They care about their stock prices, not the planet.

The good news is that battery technology will continue to improve, thanks to the proliferation of portable devices in our lives, and so will the economics of grid independence. True climate worrywarts should be grateful for small favors. Whatever the truth of man’s impact on global warming, the outcome will be shaped more by the unregulated evolution of technology than by any master plan from the bureaucracy. Meanwhile, the ecstatic burble accompanying the Paris deal is just another layer of fraudulence of the kind that has become too much mixed in with the climate cause.

See the article here.

Coal Company Sues EPA To Stop A Regulation That Will Close More Coal Plants

Via The Daily Caller: 

The Environmental Protection agency may be headed into federal court to once again defend its controversial mercury rule from a legal challenge — being brought, this time, by the coal company Murray Energy.

Murray Energy sued EPA over its mercury rule for power plants the day it was published in the Federal Register and after the agency had been working for a year to get the rule back on the books after it was struck down by the Supreme Court in June. In that case, a coalition of states and industry groups sued the EPA over its mercury rule.

“This final ‘finding’ is flagrantly arbitrary, and fails to comply with the law and with the Supreme Court’s mandate,” Murray Energy said in a statement to the West Virginia-based State Journal.

Murray, which is run by Bob Murray, filed suit in federal court Monday. The coal company argues the EPA is trying to work around the Supreme Court’s rejection of the so-called Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS — a regulation slated to cost nearly $10 billion.

EPA reissued the rule Monday, giving the public 60 days to comment on its supposedly new findings, and the regulation went into effect earlier this month. Now, EPA may have to wade into another lengthy court battle over whether or not the new MATS rule is legal.

“Indeed, the Obama EPA plainly refuses to consider the costs of its decision in light of the reasonable and available alternatives to inflexible and cost-blind federal standards that Murray Energy identified in its comments,” the company said. “This is a fatal error that will require the Courts to strike down this finding.”

MATS, originally imposed in 2012, requires power plants to reduce mercury emissions, but from the beginning it was criticized because of its high cost and low benefits. EPA estimated MATS to cost $9.6 billion and shutter coal-fired power plants across the country, but the agency also claimed the public health benefits outweighed the costs.

But only a fraction of those public health benefits came from reducing mercury, the rest came from reducing a pollutant called fine particulate matter, or PM2.5. In fact, the cost of MATS outweighed the benefits from mercury reductions more than 1,600-1.

“These benefits are so miniscule because they are based on a population that almost assuredly doesn’t exist,” William Yeatman, a senior fellow at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute, said in an emailed statement in December.

“According to the EPA, the MATS rule is necessary in order to protect a supposed population of pregnant subsistence fisherwomen, who during their pregnancies eat hundreds of pounds of self-caught fish from America’s most polluted bodies of fresh inland water,” Yeatman said.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled against EPA and forced the agency to go back to the drawing board on MATS. Former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that “[no] regulation is ‘appropriate’ if it does significantly more harm than good.”

“The Agency must consider cost—including, most importantly, cost of compliance—before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary,” Scalia wrote. “We need not and do not hold that the law unambiguously required the Agency, when making this preliminary estimate, to conduct a formal cost-benefit analysis in which each advantage and disadvantage is assigned a monetary value.”

Scalia sent the rule back to a lower court where it was upheld because so many coal plants had been forced to spend millions of dollars on upgrades to cut mercury emissions.

“EPA is very pleased with the court’s decision to leave the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) in place,” EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said in an emailed statement in December.

“These practical and achievable standards are already cutting pollution from power plants that will save thousands of lives each year and prevent heart and asthma attacks,” Harrison said. “The standards also slash emissions of the neurotoxin mercury, which can impair children’s ability to learn. All told, for every dollar spent to make these cuts in emissions, the public is receiving up to $9 in health benefits. A majority of power plants have already installed and are operating the controls needed to meet MATS and the rest will be doing so in April 2016.”

See the article here.

Obama Targets Electric Grid for Power Grab

Via Newsmax: 

The carbon-caused climate crisis cabal must be absolutely giddy that President Obama has made good on his pledge that “if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant,” policies of his regime “will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all the greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

He fulfilled that promise, with Peabody Energy Corp, America’s largest mining company, following Arch Coal, Inc., Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., Patriot Coal Corp., and Walter Energy, Inc. into Chapter 11 filings.

Speaking last November at a Texas Public Policy Foundation conference, Murray Energy Corporation owner Robert Murray described the Obama administration’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” as “a political power grab of America’s power grid.”

He views it as “a blatantly illegal effort by the Executive Branch to use the Clean Air Act of 1971 in a way never intended by Congress to promulgate carbon dioxide emission reductions across America, which will radically and destructively transform our electric power system.”

The regulatory consequences have had devastating impacts on families and communities of miners, truckers, engineers, construction workers and others who depend upon coal industry employment.

A Duke University study has estimated that 50,000 coal jobs were lost between 2008 and 2012. The Energy Information Administration’s 2013 data reported losses of about 10,000 more (another 10 percent of the industry workforce), with Appalachia, Utah, eastern Kentucky, and southern West Virginia taking huge hits.

Whole towns across America ranging from Wyoming- to Virginia-to Pennsylvania have been, and continue to be decimated.

A 2015 McKinsey and Company study shows that the entire U.S. coal industry is now bankrupt, with all producers together lacking the $45 billion needed to fund their current debts and employee and reclamation liabilities.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration reports that coal companies have lost a combined $30 billion in stock market value since 2010, with much of that hemorrhage bleeding value from worker 401(k) pensions.

Consequences of EPA’s war on fossil energy won’t bring happy tidings for those who hope to recharge their plug-in Obamacars from sunbeams or moonbeams at night . . . and seldom from intermittent and unreliable gusty breezes.

Nope, about one-third of that electricity is provided by coal plants (down from about half in 2008). Another third comes from natural gas, the next target on EPA’s regulatory anti-fossil hit parade.

About 20 percent comes from slightly more than 100 geriatric nuclear plants. Most of the rest (about 7 percent) comes from hydropower, a truly renewable, clean and economical power source that turns many Greenies purple with rage.

Hillary has promised to continue the Obama administration’s carbon-cleansing climate crusade. Speaking at CNN’s March 13 Democratic town hall meeting in Columbus, Ohio, she said, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal businesses out of business.”

Clinton’s salve for their pain would slather on liberal layers of political pork.

Her proposed $30 billion of big government lard would bail out underwater United Mine Worker pension and health plans, compensate power plant and transportation workers hurt by bankruptcies, and retrain EPA regulatory victims to qualify for politically appropriate taxpayer-funded public works largess.

Expect similar punitive prospects for natural gas. Responding to a question from a college student whether she supported fracking at a Flint, Mich. debate, Hillary answered, “So by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.”

Referring to methane release and water contamination, she said: “And I think that’s the best approach, because there are places where fracking is going on that are not sufficiently regulated.” (Incidentally, none of numerous EPA studies have ever detected any significant water pollution attributed to fracking.)

Bernie Sanders responded to the same question posed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper even more directly. He replied, “My answer is a lot shorter. No, I do not support fracking.”

As with fracking, clean coal in the U.S has also made great strides. EPA statistics show that the real pollutants . . . sulfur, lead, carbon monoxide and smog-causing emissions from coal plants are down by 50 to 90 percent over the past 40 years.

Carbon dioxide emissions, on the other hand, aren’t pollution. Just ask any leafy friend.

Besides, wouldn’t you expect the president to take due credit, just as he promised in killing coal, for also ending billions of years of climate change?

Satellite records indicate that apart from naturally-ocourring 1998 and 2015 ocean El Nino temperature spikes there hasn’t been any statistical global warming now for nearly two decades.

So perhaps before leaving the White House keys under the door mat for Hillary or Bernie, Barack will declare climate war victory and end this destructive anti-fossil jihad?

Yeah, I guess you’re right . . . maybe when hell freezes over.

See the article here.

Paris Agreement Ignores Role of Clean Coal Technology in Addressing Global Warming, Energy Poverty

National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn commented on today’s climate change agreement signing ceremony in New York City:

“What is missing from the administration’s celebratory rhetoric surrounding the Paris agreement is that its own plan for addressing global warming – aside from being stopped by the Supreme Court for its questionable legality – bears a still more fundamental flaw. It ignores the fact that reaching the UN’s temperature reduction goal will not be achieved by regulations designed to drive U.S. coal out of the market. That goal can only be achieved by aggressively supporting the testing and deployment of high-efficiency, low-emissions technologies for use globally.

“But by refusing to acknowledge the technology solution, the administration has inexplicably turned its back on the most responsible pathway for addressing the issue it claims is urgent – as well as on the hundreds of millions of the world’s poor who lack or will lose affordable electricity.”

See the release here.

Daines to EPA: Your Regulations are Killing Montana Jobs

Senator Steve Daines today took Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (EPA) Gina McCarthy to task on the EPA’s Power Plan all-fronts assault on affordable energy and good-paying union and tribal jobs.

During today’s Senate Committee on Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Daines challenged McCarthy to quantify the impacts of the anti-energy regulations on Montana. McCarthy could not give Daines a straight answer.

“If the impact on temperature is virtually negligible, what impact are we trying to drive here?” Daines pressed McCarthy.

“We are trying to get domestic and international agreements which this Clean Power Plan has helped to initiate to get worldwide response to what is essentially a worldwide problem,” McCarthy responded.

“By killing the coal industry, which is what your regulations are doing, they are killing coal-fired plants,” Daines fired back. “The regulations are going to result in the shut down of Colstrip units 1, 2, 3 and 4. Over 50 percent of the electricity generated in Montana is from coal-fired plants. You are going to shut them all down with these regulations.”

“We need to help China continue become better at managing their environment – but to completely step away from the coal fired business and to take American innovation out of the equation – to let America lead in clean coal technology versus ceding this to the Chinese,” Daines continued. “I think this is a grave strategic mistake as it relates to overall stewardship of the planet.”

McCarthy did not dispute that the EPA Power Plan will have a negligible impact on global temperature.

Daines has long fought to protect Montana jobs and access affordable energy from the Obama administration’s overreach. He recently held a two and half day Energy Summit in Billings, Montana following a 10-city energy tour across the state.

Daines is an original cosponsor of two bipartisan Congressional Review Act resolutions of disapproval that will block the Obama administration’s regulations on new and existing coal-fired power plants.

Daines is also an original cosponsor of the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act (ARENA), which holds the EPA accountable and protects states’ rights by requiring the EPA to demonstrate how their proposed regulations could impact each state.

See the press release here.

VA Lawmakers Block Funding for Climate Rule Compliance

Via E&E Publishing: 

Virginia’s General Assembly yesterday blocked funding for the state environment agency to work on ways of fulfilling a federal mandate to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In a move decried by environmental groups, the Virginia House of Delegates yesterday pushed forward language in the state budget stating that the Department of Environmental Quality can no longer use state funding to prepare or submit a compliance plan for the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan “unless the stay issued by the United States Supreme Court is released.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) supports the Clean Power Plan. In March, he vetoed a bill Virginia lawmakers put forth requiring the General Assembly’s approval of the state compliance plan submittal for the EPA rule (ClimateWire, March 3).

The governor had proposed an amendment to remove the language in the budget barring the DEQ from spending state funds to comply with the Clean Power Plan.

“I strongly believe that Virginia needs to proceed with development of the regulations while a stay is in place,” the governor’s recommendation stated, adding “submission of such plan to the United States Environmental Protection Agency will not be authorized until the stay issued by the United States Supreme Court is released.”

But yesterday, the House of Delegates voted to override the governor’s amendment, meaning the state agency will be restricted from working on compliance with EPA’s climate rule as of July 1.

Michael Dowd, director of the Virginia DEQ’s air division, said in an email yesterday the agency still needs to meet with its attorneys and the governor’s office to determine the full impact of the budget language.

“Certainly, we won’t be putting pen to paper to draft a plan or start a regulatory process,” said Dowd. “With the stay in place, we are pretty limited on what we can do anyway, so it might not impact our work too much.”

A restriction or a ‘symbolic jab’?

Virginia environmental groups criticized the budget restriction, holding a protest outside the General Assembly yesterday morning wearing orange life vests and yellow rain boots.

Virginia Sierra Club director Glen Besa argued it’s “more than ironic” that Republicans in the General Assembly “would use the budget to block action on climate change when Virginia taxpayers are already spending millions to deal with sea-level rise.”

However, Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Walton Shepherd argued McAuliffe may be able to devise a workaround allowing his state to continue pursuing Clean Power Plan compliance. He called the budget language a “symbolic jab.”

“I just don’t think this is something that will stop the governor from moving forward,” said Shepherd. “By doing it through a budget restriction, it’s necessarily a very narrow action.”

Dominion Resources Inc., a major Virginia utility that recently made headlines for filing an amicus brief calling the Clean Power Plan’s goals “feasible,” declined to comment on the funding block.

“The budget issue is the purview of policymakers, the Governor, and the legislative process,” Dominion spokesman David Botkins said in an email.

McAuliffe’s office did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Virginia’s Legislature is not the first state to restrict funding for its environment agency related to the Clean Power Plan.

Wyoming’s governor this spring signed a law prohibiting the state’s Department of Environmental Quality from spending money to plan for EPA’s climate rule, although it does allow the agency to “attend meetings and otherwise be informed as to any potential need to develop and submit a state plan” (ClimateWire, March 7). Missouri’s General Assembly is moving forward with a similar bill (ClimateWire, March 16).

See the article here.

Arizona Regulators Should Stop Preparations for the Clean Power Plan

Via The East Valley Tribune:

In one of his last official acts before his untimely death in February, Justice Scalia joined the Supreme Court’s other four conservative justices in issuing a virtually unprecedented stay of the Obama Administration’s so-called “Clean Power Plan.” The stay effectively puts the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) implementation of the burdensome set of regulations on hold until the litigation is resolved.

Along with 26 other states, including neighboring Utah, Arizona has sued to stop implementation of the rule. Because of the Supreme Court’s decision, Arizona’s regulators at the Department of Environmental Quality and other stakeholders should halt further work on the Clean Power Plan until the courts can address the case on the merits. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear oral arguments on the merits of the case on June 2, and whatever the outcome in the lower court, it is highly likely the case will end up before the Supreme Court.

If the Clean Power Plan went into effect, each state would need to meet a carbon emission target as determined by the EPA by 2030 with an aggregate nationwide reduction in emissions of 32 percent below 2005 levels. This level of reduction would likely lead to a significant increase in energy costs, which is especially troubling considering how many people are moving to Arizona for retirement and job opportunities. The rule envisions implementation beginning January 1, 2022. Though this is more than five years away, utility companies must begin planning to comply now, given the intensive investments in time and money necessary to adhere to the rule.

Though the EPA sets a specific cap on emissions, the rule allows states to create their own plans for meeting the reduction targets. The EPA argues this allows states flexibility in tailoring how best to comply with the rule. If a certain state refuses to design its own plan, the EPA would step in and implement a federal plan. The threat of federal intervention to induce state action is eerily similar to Obamacare’s interplay between state and federal health insurance exchanges.

The EPA issued the Clean Power Plan rule pursuant to authority it claimed it has under the Clean Air Act. This is a dubious assertion. For starters, many legal scholars, including prominent liberals like Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, argue that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan exceeds the statutory authority granted to the agency by Congress under the Clean Air Act—in violation of the fundamental premise of separation of powers. In other words, critics charge that the EPA cannot effectively rewrite the Clean Air Act, as it is attempting to do.

Likewise, the Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily put the brakes on the Clean Power Plan is a strong indication that the high court has serious reservations about the EPA’s claim of authority under the Clean Air Act. Temporarily blocking implementation of federal regulations is highly unusual for the Supreme Court, especially given that the D.C. Circuit had rejected the request for a stay.

Aside from the statutory and constitutional concerns with the rule, what else could have driven the Supreme Court to take such an unusual step? Perhaps the Court was chastened by the practical effect of their 2015 decision in Michigan v. EPA. In that case, the Supreme Court struck down an EPA regulation issued pursuant to the Clean Air Act, but the regulation in question was not halted as the case was litigated. As a result, most power plants incurred enormous expenses to come into compliance with the rule, even though the Supreme Court eventually invalidated it. For the EPA, losing the case was trivial—they achieved their desired outcome simply because the rule was not stayed during the litigation. As their statement said after the Court announced its decision, “EPA is disappointed the Court did not uphold the rule, but this rule was issued more than three years ago, investments have been made and most plants are already well on their way to compliance.” For all intents and purposes, the EPA was able to circumvent judicial review of the rule in question. This was certainly not the outcome the Supreme Court intended when it ruled against the EPA in the case.

In light of the serious legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan, coupled with EPA’s recent history of brazenly skirting judicial review, Arizona’s regulators and the regulated community should not take any additional compliance measures until the litigation is finalized. This is the prudent thing to do before embarking on expensive changes that would be passed along to ratepayers.

See the article here.

EPA Budget Still Seeks Funding for Clean Power Plan

Via West Virginia MetroNews:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy took fire and praise from members of the U.S. Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee Tuesday. The committee heard from McCarthy and quizzed her on the EPA’s budget request for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

At the center of much of the discussion was the Clean Power Plan, which is currently under a stay from implementation by the United States Supreme Court. Still, despite the stay, McCarthy’s budget sought additional funding to continue working with states who are voluntarily continuing to work toward compliance with the new rule.

“There’s $25 Million for the EPA to continue to develop tools and work with the states, but there’s also $25 Million for the states themselves to move forward voluntarily,” Said McCarthy.

U.S.Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) questioned why $50 Million is budgeted for a rule which is in limbo in court, but the agency was overall seeking $223 Million for work on the climate change.

“That’s $50 Million, but you’re still at $185 Million asking for appropriations for the center piece of this effort to the Clean Power Plant,” Capito said. “I would just register some concern that in fact it appears through your budget you’re moving forward with this even though there’s a stay on it.”

McCarthy shot back there are other efforts being pursued.

“Only those two are directly related to the Clean Power Plan,” McCarthy said. “The rest is identified as opportunities in vehicle emissions, our Energy Star program, and our methane reduction initiatives.”

The last of those, methane reduction, is a fairly new plane for the agency.  Until now most regulation of methane came at the state level.   Capito challenged states were doing a pretty good job on that all along, a point McCarthy could not refute in some instances, but added there were areas of concern.

“There are some states having challenges in this regard,” she said. “What we’ve identified there are many more methane emissions in the oil and gas sector than we had previously understood.  We are actually putting out an information collection request to provide us a level of data so we can identify where state’s can improve.’

Although stayed by the Supreme Court, McCarthy continued to draw fire from Senators in energy states where the Clean Power Plan will hit hardest.

“Based on your quote of April 13th, you’re saying you’re not responsible for the loss of even one job in the coal industry,”  asked  Senator John Barrasso (R-WY).

“Sir that’s not what my quote said,” McCarthy responded. “What I would indicate is that the energy system has been shifting since the 80’s and it’s time to work with those communities and individuals so that we make sure everybody in the United States has an opportunity to live well.”

Barrasso challenged the EPA’s requirement to study the economic impact of a new rule was given limited attention as the administration forged ahead with its climate change agenda.   Senator Sheldon Whitehorse (D-RI) reacted to Barrasso’s’ allegation and said it was unfair to give attention to the impact of EPA rules in coal country and not giving attention to the economic impact of climate change on his state.

See the article here.

‘Scrubbers’ Muddy Claim of ‘Dirty Coal’

Via OneNewsNow.com: 

One of the biggest arguments against the coal industry involves how “dirty” coal is but one critic of that argument calls it a myth.

Sierra Club is one of the biggest critics of the coal industry, saying it contributes to everything from climate disruption – or climate change – to toxic water pollution and asthma. As a result, the club’s Beyond Coal campaign has a countdown for the number of coal-burning power plants the Sierra Club wants to see retired.

On the other side of the argument is Terry Jarrett, attorney and former Missouri Public Service commissioner. He says the “myth” of dirty coal is, in fact, just a myth.

“We can all harken back to 30, 40 years ago,” he says, “with the old-fashioned coal plants, so to speak, which were belching out a lot of smoke out of their smokestacks. And that is sort of what the green industry continues to try to portray coal as being.”

But that is no longer true today, he insists, calling today’s plants “very, very clean.”

Sierra Club and like-minded entities may beg to differ but Jarrett says modern coal plants have lots of clean coal technologies.

“Technologies that scrub all kinds of pollutants and emissions out of the coal,” he says, “before it goes up the smokestack.”

Information found on the Department of Energy’s website states the following:

Most modern power plants — and all plants built after 1978 — are required to have special devices installed that clean the sulfur from the coal’s combustion gases before the gases go up the smokestack. The technical name for these devices is “flue gas desulfurization units,” but most people just call them “scrubbers” — because they “scrub” the sulfur out of the smoke released by coal-burning boilers.

Today’s coal plants also scrub emissions of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and mercury, Jarrett adds. As a result, he says, the nation can continue to use coal, whereas Sierra Club wants alternative energy sources that supporters claim are more environmentally friendly.

In the meantime, coal was at the top of the list last year for sources of electricity generation in the U.S.

See the article here.

5 Charts Show the High Job Costs of EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Via The U.S. Chamber of Commerce: 

Because of previous EPA regulation, states in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic have witnessed thousands of coal-related jobs cut. “Combine coal extraction losses with coal generation declines nationwide and the coal industry has lost more than 47,500 jobs already, with the promise of more to come by 2030,” Sam Batkins of the American Action Forum wrote in 2015.

According to Batkins, EPA expects the Clean Power Plan to cost as much as 34,000 jobs by 2030.

As you can see in the five charts below, even with the Supreme Court putting a pause on any work on the Clean Power Plan while legal issues are settled, administration anti-coal policies are costing jobs.

1. Since 2008, 19,000 coal mining jobs have disappeared nationwide.

U.S. coal mining jobs: 2007-2015

Kentucky coal mining jobs: 2007-2014

West Virginia coal mining jobs: 2007-2014

Pennsylvania fossil fuel electric power jobs: 2007-2014

Ohio fossil fuel electric power jobs: 2007-2014

If EPA wins its legal battle and the Clean Power Plan is fully implemented, it will be tough for anyone whose job revolves around coal.
See the article here.

EPA is Downplaying Sweeping Rule — Challengers

Via E&E Publishing:

Opponents of the Clean Power Plan are swatting back at U.S. EPA in court, deriding the agency’s defense of the rule as an attempt to understate its “radical” approach to power plant regulation.

In briefs filed Friday, the massive coalition of challengers — states, utilities, coal companies and others — renewed previous arguments that the rule is both beyond EPA’s jurisdiction and procedurally flawed. They slammed EPA for “ty[ing] itself in knots” to defend the rule as both monumentally important and a continuation of industry trends.

But the rule does represent a radical change, the challengers argued, because it “is premised on the unprecedented assertion that EPA has the legal authority under section 111(d) [of the Clean Air Act] to require emission reductions based on shutting down existing fossil fuel-fired power plants and building new, EPA-favored plants to replace them.”

“The agency wants to have it both ways, touting the Clean Power Plan as a major environmental milestone, while downplaying to the point of absurdity the rule’s unprecedented legal overreach,” the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Jeffrey Connor said in a statement. NRECA is a party to the case. “The fact is that EPA didn’t produce a rule simply to reduce emissions — it crafted a radical plan to restructure the U.S. power sector.”

The briefs are the latest in a flurry of legal filings in the high-stakes litigation over the Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. Critics of the rule made their case in February in opening briefs before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. EPA and its allies responded three weeks ago, and last week’s briefs represent challengers’ reply.

Congressional authorization?

The 150-plus petitioners filed two briefs Friday: one focused on core legal issues in the Clean Power Plan and one focused on alleged procedural missteps, following their setup for opening briefs (EnergyWire, Feb. 22).

On core issues, the challengers doubled down on arguments that EPA is overstepping its bounds in regulating the power sector without “clear Congressional authorization.” They say legal precedent requires explicit statutory support, not just “vague text,” for such “expansive assertions of agency authority.” The argument takes aim at one of EPA’s key defenses, that it is entitled to deference on its interpretation of the Clean Air Act.

The brief goes on to challenge EPA’s decision that rebalancing state energy portfolios is the “best system of emission reduction” under the Clean Air Act. The agency says several states have made successful efforts to increase cleaner power generation, prompting the Clean Power Plan’s push for broader generation shifting.

But the petitioners argue that the Clean Air Act requires EPA to focus on individual sources. Generation shifting, they say, means operators will have to shutter individual sources, like coal-fired power plants, or buy credits and invest in renewables — violating “unambiguous” limitations in the law.

Finally, the brief repeats past arguments that the Clean Power Plan violates the 10th Amendment and treads on state regulatory turf. According to the petitioners, state regulators should have the right to decide when and how to make changes to electricity generation.

On the procedural side, the challengers made a slew of technical arguments against the rule — chiefly that the final version violates administrative law by being too different from the proposed rule. The petitioners argue that the final version of the Clean Power Plan incorporates a uniform, national performance rate for coal- and gas-fired power plants that was never contemplated in the draft rule.

“In promulgating a Rule it never proposed, EPA evaded its most fundamental obligation under [the Clean Air Act] — to propose its Rule before finalizing it,” the brief said.

The brief goes on to criticize the agency’s technical support for the rule, arguing that the rule’s goals are not actually achievable and that certain changes to generation could threaten the grid’s reliability.

Intervenors in the case also weighed in last week, submitting a separate brief that challenges EPA’s “sweeping” application of the Clean Air Act.

“EPA would transform Section 111(d) into a general enabling act, giving the agency authority over the entire electric grid, not to mention the entire American economy,” Peabody Energy Corp. and other companies wrote. “EPA would convert an obscure, little-used provision into the most powerful section of the CAA, rendering much of the remainder surplusage.”

Support for the rule

Proponents of EPA’s rule shrugged at the challengers’ latest arguments, instead focusing on growing support for the rule. A wide variety of corporations, religious groups, health groups, former government officials and others joined in support of the regulation earlier this month (EnergyWire, April 4).

“The Clean Power Plan is firmly rooted in our nation’s successful clean air laws and time-tested solutions adopted under both Republican and Democratic Presidents,” Environmental Defense Fund attorney Tomás Carbonell said in a statement. EDF is a party to the case on EPA’s side.

“Across the country, public support for climate action is strong and continues to grow — even in states whose officials are litigating against the Clean Power Plan,” he added. “The Clean Power Plan is one of the most important steps we can take to protect our families, communities and businesses from the dangers of climate change while strengthening our clean energy economy.”

Both sides will submit a final round of briefs Friday, setting the stage for oral arguments in June.

See the article here.

Purposeful Job Destruction

Via Steamboat Today:

This past March 13, the front-running Democrat Party presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, made the following statement: “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” This statement was the final, outright admission of what she and President Obama have been trying to achieve for years. On April 13, 2016, her promise came true. Peabody Energy, owner of Routt County’s Twentymile coal mine, declared bankruptcy.

Sadly, Ms. Clinton’s war on coal endangers hundreds of high-paying jobs in Northwest Colorado. It is devastating the economic lives of thousands of miners and their families. Clinton’s war on coal is her policy. It is not just a hollow campaign promise or a statement of political ideology.

The number of coal workers in America declined every month last year to about 58,000 — a record low. In the 1980s, employment peaked at 175,000. In Routt and Moffat counties, coal employment has declined by double-digit percentages recently. Coal’s decline in West Virginia has produced the highest unemployment rate in America.

It’s ironic that while politicians and presidential candidates decry the decline of the American middle class, the campaign against coal is costing tens of thousands of high-paying, middle-class jobs. The average pay and benefits for a coal miner is more than $115,000 per year, according to the Colorado Mining Association. The anti-coal crowd justifies these losses in coal jobs with the promise of a transition into work opportunity in green energy. The problem is that solar and wind energy jobs are not materializing at near the rate of losses of coal jobs.

Another irony is the general misunderstanding about perceived pollution from burning coal for electricity generation. Actual pollutants include sulfur, mercury, fly-ash and nitrogen oxides. Coal-fired power plants, for the last several decades, have been equipped to eliminate nearly all of these contaminants. Projects are underway now in Routt and Moffat Counties, costing more than $360 million, to further reduce nitrogen oxides. Modern technology and billions of dollars have nearly eliminated pollution from coal effluent.

Carbon dioxide is another issue. Carbon dioxide is the product of burning any fossil fuel, including coal, natural gas and the gasoline from your car’s fuel tank. The proportion of CO2 produced from burning coal is higher than from other fuels. That makes coal the first target of the politicians who want to control our nation’s energy supply.

The Obama Administration, with the strong backing of presidential candidate Clinton, wants to eliminate man-made CO2 and thereby all fossil fuels. They deem CO2 a hazardous chemical due to its perceived contribution to “global warming.” The administration’s recently imposed Clean Power Plan regulations demand reductions in CO2 that are now impossible to attain economically with coal as a fuel.

The bottom line is clear: The Obama/Clinton policy through the CPP will eliminate coal as a low-cost electricity source. (A fuel, by the way, of which America has more than a 200 year supply.) Clinton is not concerned about “… putting a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” no matter the human cost. And no matter the destruction of the livelihoods of tens of thousands of hard-working Americans.

As low-priced electricity generated by coal is destroyed, your electric bill will rise dramatically. Some say your bills will double through the next few years. All this because CO2, the same substance we all exhale every day with every breath, has been falsely designated as an evil pollutant by uncaring politicians.

See the article here.

Europe’s Energy Crisis Poses Warning for the U.S.

Via Real Clear Energy:

Europe has a problem that may soon become ours. Countries like Germany, Spain, and England are finding that their recent “green energy” experiments are proving too costly to continue. Between 2005—when the European Union adopted its emissions trading scheme—and 2014, residential electricity rates in the EU increased by an average of 63 percent. In Germany, rates increased by 78 percent; in Spain, by 111 percent; and, in the U.K., by a whopping 133 percent. Over the same decade, residential rates in the United States rose only 32 percent.

Across Europe, the cost of electricity has been rising, thanks to a well-intentioned but mistaken plunge into “renewable energy.” And what’s happening in the EU portends a troubling lesson for the United States. Simply put, green energy is proving to be an expensive failure. Yes, green energy works when heavily subsidized by the taxpayer. But Europe’s taxpayers can no longer afford the experiment.

What did our European friends get for their exercise in green energy exploration? Power shortages, job loss, and the bankruptcy of major green energy giants like Spain’s Abengoa, which received more than $2 billion in loan subsidies from the Obama Administration. In fact, Spain is now confronting $27 billion in debt from failed wind and solar projects, thanks to a program estimated to have eliminated at least two jobs for every “green” job it created.

This isn’t the picture that renewable energy activists like to trumpet when praising wind and solar power. Germany’s activists proudly talk of renewables powering a record 78% of the day’s energy needs on July 25, 2015. It sounds breathtaking, but the fine print is more relevant. Three days before, the same renewables powered only 25 percent of energy demand.

A more accurate picture emerges the closer one looks at Germany’s actual experience. On the recent afternoon of April 4, 2016, for example, the data show production of only 2.23 Gigawatt (GW) of wind power, zero GW of solar, and 46.48 GW of “Conventional” energy. That conventional energy comes mostly from coal plants, which still generate roughly 40 percent of total German electricity.

There are several lessons here for the Obama Administration. First, wind and solar will always require back-up power from gas, coal, and nuclear plants. That’s because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. Second, renewables are expensive, because they require standby support from gas, coal, and nuclear. Third, any effort to rely on renewable energy as the primary source of power is simply not feasible.

Unfortunately, the Obama Administration continues to ignore the evidence. The president’s “Clean Power Plan,” which hopes to install 125,000 wind turbines nationwide while eliminating 40 percent of America’s coal fleet, means a blind leap into the same green chasm.

The Clean Power Plan is projected to raise consumer utility costs $214 billion by 2030, with another $64 billion needed for the installation of renewables infrastructure. The Administration ignores who will be hurt the most by such cost increases. U.S. manufacturers will suffer when competing with countries like China that enjoy cheaper energy. And America’s low-income communities will certainly be hurt by higher residential electricity costs, leaving them with less discretionary income for essential services.

Unfortunately, environmentalists continue to disregard the state-of-the-art technology now employed at U.S. power plants to trap and scrub coal emissions. But this clean coal approach works. And the same technical innovation can capture carbon dioxide, just as it has cleaned coal of conventional pollutants. Given our nation’s technological prowess and world-leading coal supply, clean coal should be a logical option if America’s goal is safe, reliable, affordable power.

Let’s hope America learns quite soon to embrace clean coal. Otherwise, the alternative will be the heavily subsidized model of renewable energy now provoking a crisis in Europe.

See the article here.

CHART: Power Is A LOT More Expensive Under Obama

Via The Daily Caller: 

The average American’s electric bill has gone up 10 percent since January, 2009, due in part to regulations imposed by President Barack Obama and state governments, even though the price of generating power has declined.

Record low costs for generating electricity thanks to America’s new natural gas supplies created by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, haven’t translated into lower monthly payments for consumers due to new regulations.

The price of generating electricity in the eastern U.S. fell by half under Obama, but utilities raised monthly bills for residential customers, according to government data.

The biggest price increase in the U.S. was in Kansas, where prices rose from 8.16 cents per kilowatt-hour in January, 2009, to 11.34 cents in January, 2015. That’s a 39 percent increase in the price of electricity during Obama’s tenure. States like Idaho, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Missouri, Utah, and Ohio saw enormous increases in the price of electricity as well, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

States with large and developed natural gas and oil industries generally saw their average electric bill drop. The biggest price drop was in Texas, where prices fell by almost 10 percent during Obama’s tenure. States like Louisiana, Arkansas, Maryland, Florida, Delaware, New Jersey, Maine and the District of Columbia all saw the average electric bill fall since January, 2009.

“President Obama openly ran in 2008 on a platform of making electricity rates ‘skyrocket’ and bankrupting anyone who dared to build a coal plant in the United States,” Travis Fisher, an economist at the Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Now, more than seven years into his presidency, it should come as no surprise that his efforts have taken a widespread toll in the form of higher electricity rates for nearly every state in the union.”

Despite falling generation costs, electrical utilities are being forced by the government to pay for billions of dollars of government-mandated “improvements” and taxpayer support for new wind and solar power systems.

“The administration has subsidized our highest-cost sources of electricity–new wind and solar facilities–while shutting down a significant portion of our most economic source, which is the existing workhorse fleet of coal-fired power plants,” Fisher continued. “In fact, rates are going up when they should be going down. For example, natural gas prices reached their peak in 2008 and have since fallen by two-thirds. Coal prices are stable. What’s really behind the increase in electricity prices is an increase in subsidized and mandated wind and solar power combined with a decrease in low-cost electricity from coal.”

Most analysts agree rising residential electricity prices are also harmful to American households. Pricey power disproportionately hurts poorer families and other lower-income groups as the poor tend to spend a higher proportion of their incomes on “basic needs” like power, so any increase in prices hits them the hardest.

As essential goods like electricity becomes more expensive, the cost of producing goods and services that use electricity increases, effectively raising the price of almost everything. The higher prices are ultimately paid for by consumers, not industries.

See the article here.

Louisiana Attorney General Stands Against the Clean Power Plan

Via The Louisiana Record:

BATON ROUGE – The Clean Power Plan, announced on Aug. 3, 2015, by President Obama and the EPA, has faced some heavy opposition from many state officials, including Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who believes that the plan is injudicious and misguided.

“The Clean Power Plan was created without Congressional authority and in direct contradiction to statutory language,” he stated in a statement given to the Louisiana Record. “The Clean Power Plan is a purely political attempt to force states into green energy submission.”

Currently, the plan has been stayed by the Supreme Court and is pending judicial reviews. Under the stay, the EPA cannot enforce or enact any of the proposed regulations and rules until the legal challenges against it are resolved in court. The cases are now waiting to be heard before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The final version of the Clean Power Plan relies on a federal and state partnership to reduce carbon pollution from what is considered to be the biggest sources of carbon output: power plants. It is considered to be one of the most ambitious climate-related policies undertaken by President Obama and the EPA. It also allegedly gives the EPA unprecedented legal authority.

That legal authority worries Landry, who believes that the plan gives the EPA too much of a reach with little oversight.

“By their own admission, the EPA said the Clean Power Plan is an attempt to aggressively transform the domestic energy industry,” he said. “The Clean Power Plan is another example of federal overreach and, just like other overly burdensome and extremely expensive Washington regulations, this unconstitutional EPA mandate is a job killer.”

The EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases came from a 2005 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA in which the Court decided that carbon dioxide and other green house gases are qualified as “pollutants” subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. Under the language, the ruling gave the EPA the power to regulate green house gases. The plan requires that each state meet specific standards with respect to reduction of carbon emissions. The states are free to reduce emissions by various means, and must submit emissions reductions plans by September 2016. They can apply for extension, however; and then must submit their plan by September 2018. If a state has not submitted a plan by then, the EPA will then impose its own plan for that state.

By 2030, the EPA hopes to lower power plant carbon emission levels by 32 percent of what it was in 2005. The ultimate goal is to have emissions reduced to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Landry, however, believes that carbon emission levels will not be the only thing affected.

“If enacted, the Clean Power Plan would cost billions to implement and would jeopardize Louisiana’s six coal-fired plants that generate over 6,000 megawatts of low-cost energy for our state,” Landry said. “So I will continue to work with my fellow attorneys general from across the country to ensure Louisiana workers, job creators, and consumers are not burdened by this EPA overreach.”

Landry said that there are more than 29 states and state agencies that oppose the Clean Power Plan, and they are currently preparing their case in the appeal court.

See the article here.

Count on Coal Launches New Information Resource on “Costly Power Plan”

Washington, D.C. – Today the Count on Coal initiative launched a new online resource to highlight the economic impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan on individual states.

CostlyPowerPlan.com features an interactive map of the U.S. that enables the public to see the higher costs incurred by each state, as well as assess nationwide costs associated with this plan designed to make the nation’s power supply more expensive and less reliable.

By bringing to light facts that the administration has sought to bury, the site will be especially useful to state leaders who are encouraged to put down their pencils and halt their state’s efforts to impose a federal regulation recently stayed by the Supreme Court.

CostlyPowerPlan.com provides a one-stop-shopping opportunity for state officials, businesses and ratepayers who are interested in finding out more about how EPA’s far-reaching rule will disrupt both their finances and power supplies.

Count on Coal is a grassroots advocacy program supported by NMA for the purpose of informing the public about the benefits of affordable electricity from coal.

See the release here.

State Spent About $150k on Clean Power Plan … So Far

Via Watchdog.org:

UP IN SMOKE: Colorado officials continue to spend money on the Clean Power Plan despite a U.S. Supreme Court stay but have tapered off some costs.

State officials spent approximately $150,000 to help Colorado implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, most of it before the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the rules last month, records obtained by Watchdog.org show.

And while future meetings to discuss the CPP are planned, the meeting scheduled for March in Pueblo was postponed in part because of the stay and in part due to logistical reasons, according to Will Allison, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s director of the air pollution control division.

POLLUTION CONTROLLER: Air pollution division director Will Allison said most of the spending on Clean Power Plan rules has stopped.

Allison said it has been difficult to determine the cost of CPP implementation or how much the state will spend in the future because the department is doing the work with existing staff and no new funds.

“We didn’t stop spending the date of stay,” Allison told Watchdog.org, adding the CPP planning is part of overall clean air work the department oversees. “We work on a wide variety or air pollution matters, including emissions from power plants, and we’re going to continue to do that.”

But state Sen. John Cooke, a Weld County Republican who is sponsoring two bills to address the consequences of the Clean Power Plan and may look to cut the Department of Public Health and Environment’s budget if it doesn’t stop working on the stalled EPA rules, isn’t buying CDPHE’s disclosures.

“I think they’re being disingenuous,” Cooke told Watchdog.org. “And I don’t think they’re being very transparent.”

CDPHE filed two documents, which officials provided to Watchdog.org after a Colorado Open Records Act request, with the Joint Budget Committee saying the majority of spending on the CPP stopped in early February.

“Much of the division’s CPP work took place between when the rule was published on August 3, 2015, and the February 9, 2016 stay of the CPP,” health officials wrote lawmakers. “In light of the stay of the CPP, we anticipate the same division staff having additional time to devote to other projects.”

The department estimated about $150,000 in costs so far for CPP implementation.

“(A)pproximately 10 Division staff worked on issues relating to the rule,” staff wrote in the documents. “We estimate that during this timeframe those staff members devoted a total of approximately 2,400 hours, which would equate to a total cost of $111,651.92, estimated using an average salary.”

The document also notes $14,008.56 in mostly meeting costs and $19,120 for legal services, adding that 28 percent of the personnel costs are from federal funds and the rest were covered with cash funds (non-tax revenue, such as money from fees or fines).

The department’s website shows that meetings on the CPP continued after the court stay, including one in Denver on Feb. 22 that included discussions about the stay and one scheduled for Craig, Colo., in April, though the exact date wasn’t set yet. Allison wasn’t sure what would happen with the Pueblo meeting that was postponed.

Cooke said health officials continue to spend on the CPP, haven’t provided a full accounting and shouldn’t be working on any rules about what kind of fuels power plants can use because the CPP, which attempts to eliminate or limit coal use, may die at the U.S. Supreme Court.

RULE BREAKER: Sen. John Cooke wants to stop any spending on EPA rules that might never go into effect.

“They have the authority at the smokestack to regulate what comes out of the smokestack,” he said. “They shouldn’t be working on what kind of fuel (power plants) use.”

Cooke is leading the fight to block any additional spending on CPP. His Senate Bill 46 would suspend state implementation of the plan if there is court stay, and his Senate Bill 61 would create a fund to protect consumers from any rate hikes caused by the CPP.

He concedes the bills are unlikely to make it out of the Democrat-controlled House or, if they do, avoid a Gov. John Hickenlooper veto. But Republicans might cut the department’s budget if officials continue spending.

“We’re looking at their budget and the option of holding up their supplemental (request for additional funds) until we get answers,” he added.

Cooke contends administration staff have been “speaking out of both sides of their mouths” on whether to continue spending on CPP rules. Hickenlooper and CDPHE director Larry Wolk have made statements and written an op-ed saying they plan to continue preparing the state for the rules.

Allison said he doesn’t know the exact cost of the meetings and whether they will continue, but the department doesn’t want to waste money.

“We are trying to determine what is the best investment of time and effort,” he said. “We don’t want to waste time or money on something, but there is ample opportunity (to reduce pollution) regardless of the” CPP.

See the article here.

NMA Documents Administration’s Failure to Curb Regulatory Abuse

Washington, D.C. – Despite the many executive orders and directives requiring federal agencies to curb their voracious appetite for regulations that are redundant, inefficient or outdated, a lack of incentives to repeal them has predictably resulted in costly inaction. That is the conclusion of the National Mining Association’s (NMA) review of regulations imposed on mining and other businesses by the Obama administration since 2009.

“While businesses must continue to abide by such regulations or face the risk of incurring government sanctions, there is no reciprocity with federal agencies that are free to either ignore or adhere superficially to these executive orders,” said NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn.

“Frankly, the executive orders on improving the regulatory process embody sound principles for balanced regulatory policy producing better outcomes. Unfortunately, they are not binding on the agencies,” Quinn said. He recommended “codifying these principles or best practices into law to bring much needed accountability into our nation’s vast regulatory system.”

In a presentation today to the Congressional Task Force on Regulatory Reform, Quinn examined a half-dozen regulations that are a small but potent portion of rules whose total burden on the economy exceeded $2 trillion, or 12 percent of GDP, in 2012. Each rule cited by Quinn meets one or more of the criteria for repeal or reform identified in executive orders.

A prime example of a massive regulation whose costs greatly exceed any benefits is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Utility MATS rule. The 2011 rule “is a poster child for unbalanced regulations that dismiss the real costs and inflate the benefits,” said Quinn. Even by EPA’s own calculation, Quinn noted the rule saddles consumers with annual costs of almost $10 billion yet brings them at most only $4-$6 million in highly questionable benefits.

When indifference to regulatory costs combines with pre-determined outcomes, the harmful impacts can be truly devastating. In the case of MATS, Quinn noted that EPA estimated the rule would force into retirement only 4,400 megawatts of power generation when the actual loss, acknowledged by the Energy Information Administration, was as much as 60,000 megawatts of generating capacity. Almost 41,000 coal mine jobs alone have been lost in the past five years, thanks in part to rules like this, said Quinn.

For duplicative and conflicting regulations, Quinn cited proposed financial responsibility requirements for metals and minerals mining and the inefficient permit approval process that hamstrings production. EPA is proposing additional surety requirements even though these already exist and additional requirements are left to agency discretion, not mandated, under the Superfund Law. Permitting delays on mineral mines can take up to a decade, placing the U.S. near the bottom of the world’s mining regions in this category and significantly hindering our industry’s ability to compete against them.

If the White House is genuinely interested in avoiding costly rules that lack any purpose, Quinn invited its attention to the Stream Protection Rule. The Department of the Interior prefers to create rather than reduce uncertainty by proposing a massive rule without either legal basis or environmental purpose, as confirmed by its own documentation of environmental performance at coal mines. An analysis of the rule nevertheless shows it jeopardizes between 55,000 and 79,000 jobs throughout the United States.

“Obviously if well done, regulations can protect the public, the environment and the marketplace,” said Quinn. “But if done poorly, as has been too often the case here, they must be avoided or repealed before adding more harm to the economy and to American workers.”

See the press release here.

Wasting Colorado’s Money on EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Via The Denver Post: 

With the full support of Gov. Hickenlooper, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is refusing to fully honor the U.S. Supreme Court’s Feb. 9 stay on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

Republicans in the legislature are trying to stop the agency from wasting taxpayer dollars pursuing a plan that’s not required by any federal environmental mandate, nor authorized by Colorado statute.

The U.S. Supreme Court halted implementation of the Clean Power Plan because the 27 state plaintiffs met the court’s two conditions for granting a stay — proof of “irreparable harm” in the absence of a stay, and likelihood of eventual success on the merits.

See the full article here.

Alabama Still Threatened by Obama’s War on Coal

Via AL.com:

The Obama Administration’s assault on the nation’s coal producers took a remarkable turn recently.  The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay against the president’s massive “Clean Power Plan” (CPP), blocking the new program until a federal court determines its legality.

The ruling produced a huge sigh of relief from the 27 states currently suing to halt what they see as the most far-reaching and intrusive regulations ever imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.)

Cash-strapped states no longer need to scramble to reduce power sector carbon dioxide emissions 32% by 2030.  Because the power plan requires interim targets in 2022, though, many states were already mobilizing to build new power sector infrastructure at substantial cost.

See the article here.