Monthly Archives: September 2016

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

Judges Must Understand: Climate Rules Are Irrational

Via The Daily Caller:

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear arguments in the litigation over President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). If implemented, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulation will require states to develop and bring into force plans to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants.

The focus for opponents of the CPP will be its questionable legality. However, the ten judges hearing the case should also keep in mind that the rules are pointless. The CPP will have no measurable impact on climate.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has repeatedly admitted exactly that before Congressional hearings. She asserts that the CPP is still worthwhile because, to quote from her September 18, 2013 testimony before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, it “is part of an overall strategy that is positioning the U.S. for leadership in an international discussion, because climate change requires a global effort.”

Setting a good example would make sense if it were known that a man-made climate crisis was imminent and developing nations, the source of most of the world’s emissions, were likely to follow our lead.

But developing countries have indicated that they have no intention of following the U.S. They will not limit their development for ‘climate protection’ purposes.

For example, on July 18, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said about the Paris climate agreement, “You are trying to stymie [our growth] with an agreement… That’s stupid. I will not honor that.”

Duterte can say this with a clear conscience. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), the foundation of the Paris Agreement, gives an out clause for developing nations. Article 4 of the FCCC states, “Economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.”

Actions to significantly reduce CO2 emissions would entail dramatically cutting back on the use of coal, the source of 81% of China’s electricity, 71% of India’s, and 29% of that of the Philippines. As coal is by far the least expensive source of electric power in most parts of the world, reducing CO2 emissions by restricting coal use would unquestionably interfere with development priorities. So developing countries simply won’t do it. They will continue to grow their use of coal—the Philippines has a 7.2% annual increase in the rate of coal use for primary energy demand, for instance—citing the UN’s own treaty in support of their actions.

From a climate change perspective, it probably won’t matter in the least. After all, even the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admits that surface temperature, averaged over the land and ocean, increased only about 1.5 degrees between 1880 to 2012 despite a reputed 37% rise in atmospheric CO2 content. And it is well known that the impact of further CO2 rise diminishes as the concentration increases.

Given that there has been no general increase in extreme weather or the rate of sea level rise, the primary rationale for the actions to restrict CO2 emissions is merely the possibility of dangerous climate change in the future.

Speaking on September 20 before the UN General Assembly, Obama summed up this concern, saying, “If we don’t act boldly [to restrict emissions], the bill that could come due will be mass migrations, and cities submerged and nations displaced, and food supplies decimated, and conflicts born of despair.”

But no one, not even the world’s leading climate experts, know this. The reports of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) cite hundreds of references published in leading science journals that show that today’s climate is not unusual, and evidence for future climate calamity is weak.

Obama’s concerns are based on computer models of future climate states. But the models have failed miserably in the real world.

In his February 2, 2016 testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space & Technology, Dr. John Christy, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Alabama’s State Climatologist and Director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, presented the following graph.

Christy told Congress, “[T]hese models failed at the simple test of telling us ‘what’ has already happened, and thus would not be in a position to give us a confident answer to ‘what’ may happen in the future and ‘why.’ As such, they would be of highly questionable value in determining policy that should depend on a very confident understanding of how the climate system works.”

To create the models requires vast amounts of weather and climate data. We also need accurate data to input as the starting conditions for model-generated forecasts to be performed. Former University of Winnipeg professor and historical climatologist Dr. Tim Ball says that the collection and interpretation of the necessary data has only just begun. He explains that there are relatively few weather stations of adequate length or reliability on which to base model forecasts of future climate. “Obama’s worries therefore have absolutely no credibility in the real world,” Ball concludes.

After polling 9.7 million people from 194 countries, the UN’s My World global survey finds that “action taken on climate change” rates dead last out of the 16 suggested priorities for the agency. The judges hearing the CPP case on Tuesday must realize that, in comparison with access to reliable energy, better healthcare, government honesty, a good education, etc., most people across the world do not care about climate change. They understand that we have real problems to solve.

Judges Question ‘Generation Shifting,’ Congress’ Role in Clean Power Plan Hearing

Via The Morning Consult:

D.C. Circuit Court judges heard arguments over the Clean Power Plan Tuesday, expressing skepticism over a key argument against the plan, but also questioning why they shouldn’t leave action on greenhouse gases to Congress.

Opponents argued that the Clean Air Act calls on the EPA to regulate pollution from power sources , but not from a state’s entire interconnected grid, shifting away from coal and toward renewables. But some judges questioned why it would be all right for the EPA to require individual coal plants to co-fire with more natural gas, or even theoretically put solar panels on their roofs, but not to pay for credits benefitting renewables in a different location.

Elbert Lin, counsel for the 27 states led by West Virginia suing the EPA, said it would not necessarily be illegal for the agency to require coal plants themselves to shift toward natural gas as their primary fuel. When asked if states would inevitably engage in “generation shifting” away from coal regardless of the EPA’s rule, Lin said the states were divided on that point.

In total, Judges Thomas Griffith, David Tatel, Sri Srinivasan, Cornelia Pillard and Patricia Millett expressed skepticism about the argument against regulations that go beyond the fence line of an individual power plant.

But some justices also questioned whether the EPA can issue such a major rule without clearer instructions from Congress, which didn’t explicitly address the interconnected nature of the grid in the Clean Air Act. For particularly important and controversial cases, courts are supposed to look for specific language from Congress, Griffith said. And the Obama administration itself played up the rule’s importance, announcing it from the East Wing of the White House, Judge Brett Kavanaugh said.

“It was NPR this morning,” Griffith said.

Kavanaugh added that Congress would be better suited to address the economic repercussions of the rule, allocating money to job training programs, for example. The EPA, in contrast, has a “single-minded” mission, he said.

See the article here.

It’s Judgment Day for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, America

Via FOX News:

On Tuesday, September 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear arguments over EPA’s massive Clean Power Plan.

The hearing will be unusual for several reasons–it will be a rare initial en banchearing, meaning it will take place before nine judges instead of the typical three-judge panel.   

The case already has a short but unique Supreme Court history; in February the high court, by a 5-4 vote, enjoined the plan from taking effect until the court challenges were finished.

That unexpected ruling was followed four days later by an even greater shock–the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the justices who voted for the stay.

The massive scope of EPA’s plan is the real showstopper. The plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants by nearly a third over the next 14 years. It would be the most expensive regulation ever imposed on the energy industry, destroying jobs, pushing manufacturing companies out of the U.S., and raising consumer costs.

The Supreme Court’s stay is still in effect, but gone is the impression it created, that the plan would receive a hostile reception once it reached the high court.

But it’s the massive scope of EPA’s plan which is the real showstopper. The plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants by nearly a third over the next 14 years.  It would be the most expensive regulation ever imposed on the energy industry, destroying jobs, pushing manufacturing companies out of the U.S., and raising consumer costs.  EPA claims the plan is necessary to save the planet. Critics (like us) argue that its environmental benefits would be marginal at best, and they would be more than offset by a possibly fatal body blow to the economy.

The legal issues facing the appeals court on Sept. 27 involve a complex statute, the Clean Air Act, as well as fundamental issues of federalism and administrative law.  At heart, though, EPA’s rule is rooted in public relations, not law.

EPA’s head, Gina McCarthy, has publicly stated that the alleged environmental benefits of the plan were not its real rationale.

At a March 22 congressional hearing, one congressman stated: “I don’t understand–if it doesn’t have an impact on climate change around the world, why are we subjecting our hard working taxpayers and men and women in the coal fields to something that has no benefit?”

McCarthy’s answer: “We see it as having had enormous benefit in showing sort of domestic leadership as well as garnering support around the country for the agreement we reached in Paris.”

But demonstrating leadership is not the law’s goal; the underlying statute, after all, is the Clean Air Act, not the Clean Air Politics Act.

It’s also an incredibly expensive goal, costing the country tens of billions of dollars annually.  And it’s at this point that, on the issue of costs and benefits, EPA launches into its song-and-dance routine:  it didn’t have to do a cost-benefit analysis, says EPA, but it did one, but it’s not the one it used to justify what it did, and the numbers are fine anyway.

In fact, the numbers aren’t fine.  In ruling last year in another Clean Air Act case,Michigan v. EPA, the Supreme Court noted the irrationality of imposing “billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars” of benefits.

The Clean Power Plan’s alleged benefits, moreover, won’t even be for the U.S.; they’re global benefits, even though they’re paid for by U.S. consumers.  This is contrary to the Clean Air Act’s focus on protecting “the Nation’s air resources” for “its population.”

These are far from the only problems posed by the Clean Power Plan.  It also involves a drastic centralization of federal power over state electricity markets, and a bait-and-switch maneuver between the rule that EPA first proposed for public comment and the rule it finally issued.

If you think all this is nit-picking about a plan essential to the planet’s survival, remember Gina McCarthy’s words–it’s not about the planet, it’s about “showing leadership.”

We’re not sure how many states Gina carried in her last election, but thankfully those aren’t the votes that will matter now.

Boyden Gray served as White House counsel under President George H.W. Bush and as U.S. ambassador to the European Union under President George W. Bush.

Sam Kazman is general counsel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market organization in Washington, D.C. 

See the article here.

West Virginia and Other Opponents of the Clean Power Plan Get their Day in Court

Via WV MetroNews:

Today the news cycle is dominated by last night’s debate.  At issue is who will be the next leader of our country and in what direction America will head with a new occupant in the White House.

However, a few blocks east of the White House, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, there will be a less well publicized debate today that will have lasting impact on our nation. The case is West Virginia v. EPA, and it’s the challenge by West Virginia and 28 other states to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP).

President Obama failed to get congressional approval for limits on carbon emissions, so the administration acted unilaterally through the EPA forcing states to significantly alter their power generation sources. The EPA contends this is just the latest example of cooperative federalism, but it’s hardly cooperative.

“So this is how the plan works: The EPA pushes coal-fired plants off the grid, and then counts on the states to ensure that the resulting reductions in capacity are matched by increases in EPA preferred forms of power generation,” according to attorneys David Rivkin and Andrew Grossman, who are representing Oklahoma in the suit.

Regardless of one’s position on coal or climate change, there are legitimate constitutional questions as to whether the EPA has the authority for such sweeping action.  Historically the EPA has exercised control over specific sources of pollution, but the CPP is a forced remake state-by-state of the country’s energy portfolio.

“At the heart of cooperative federalism is the right of refusal—states must retain the power to opt out of any federal scheme,” opined theWall Street Journal.  “If that scheme is grounded in a law passed by Congress, the feds can take over and regulate themselves. In this case the EPA has no authority to do anything of the kind.”

The EPA will likely argue today that it is empowered—no, make that required—by the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions, as though it has no choice in the matter.  But that disingenuous concept is rooted in the questionable interpretation of a tiny provision of the Act passed 46 years ago when none of the bill’s supporters could have imagined that a federal law to stop pollution would be used to try to control the weather.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s team has right on its side, but it faces a tough audience today.  The Journal says the D.C. Circuit is “stocked with more liberals than conservatives.” However, the Journal also points out that many of those justices, regardless of their political lean, may be truly disturbed by how the CPP ignores the separation of powers and turns federalism on its ear.

West Virginia v. EPA is not just about getting the EPA off coal’s back; it’s also about checking the ability of this and future administrations, Democrat and Republican, from behaving dictatorially when they fail to achieve their ends through democratic methods.

See the article here.

NMA Remarks on the Clean Power Plan’s Day in the D.C. Circuit

National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn remarked on today’s arguments before the D.C. Circuit Court challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan:

 “Few regulatory issues before the D.C. Circuit carry such far-reaching economic consequences as the Clean Power Plan that was forcefully challenged today by 28 states and a variety of industries and organizations.

“The Court heard compelling arguments for drawing a line against a federal agency that, lacking clear legal authority or congressional consent, nevertheless insists on imposing a reckless regulation certain to burden households with higher energy costs and add to the loss of good jobs, yet achieve virtually nothing of measurable environmental significance.”

See the remarks here.

‘Clean Power’ Plays and the Last Stand for Federalism

Via The Wall Street Journal:

After Congress turned down President Obama’s request to enact a law regulating power plants’ greenhouse-gas emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency turned to the states—not with a request, but with instructions to carry out the president’s energy policy. The EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” now faces the scrutiny of the nation’s chief regulatory review court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

If the Constitution’s federalism is to endure, the Clean Power Plan must be struck down.

The Constitution establishes a federal government of limited and enumerated powers while the states retain a plenary “police power,” subject only to the specific limitations of federal law. This is what Justice Anthony Kennedy called the Constitution’s “genius”: It “split the atom of sovereignty” to ensure accountability when meeting both local and national concerns, while fostering rivalry between the two levels to curb excessive political ambition that might threaten liberty.

Only in recent decades did politicians learn how to realize their ambitions through collusion. The federal government now entices states with transfer payments to establish and administer social-welfare programs. And, in schemes that the courts describe as “cooperative federalism,” it offers states the choice to regulate their citizens according to federal dictates, as an alternative to the feds regulating directly and having states get out of the way.

Even these approaches were not enough for the Obama administration to cajole the states to carry out its energy agenda. So it resolved to obliterate one of the last vestiges of the Constitution’s vertical separation of powers: the bar on federal commandeering of the states and their officials to carry out federal policy.

The Clean Power Plan is enormously complicated, but its overall approach is straightforward. Previous emissions regulations have focused on reducing emissions from particular facilities, but this one relies on shifting electricity generation from disfavored facilities (coal-fired power plants) to those the EPA prefers (natural gas and renewables). The EPA then determined what, in its view, is the maximum amount of such shifting that each of the nation’s regional electric grids could possibly accommodate and calculated the emissions reductions.

Parcel those figures out by state, factor in additional reductions due to estimated efficiency improvements at older plants, and the result is state-specific reduction targets. The states can elect to achieve those targets themselves—or, if they decline, the EPA will do it for them. “Textbook cooperative federalism,” says the EPA.

Not quite. Whether or not the states choose to implement the plan directly, it leaves them no choice but to carry out the EPA’s federal climate policy. That’s because the EPA can destroy but not create. It can regulate emissions of existing facilities, but it lacks the legal authority to facilitate the construction and integration of new power sources, which is ultimately the only way to achieve the plan’s aggressive targets.

That duty falls to the states, which the plan depends upon to carry out what the EPA calls their “responsibility to maintain a reliable electric system.” Doing nothing, as in the cooperative federalism scenario, is not an option.

So this is how the plan works: The EPA pushes coal-fired plants off the grid, and then counts on the states to ensure that the resulting reductions in capacity are matched by increases in EPA-preferred forms of power generation. State agencies will have to be involved in decommissioning coal-fired plants, addressing replacement capacity—like wind turbines and solar arrays—addressing transmission and integration issues, and undertaking all manner of related regulatory proceedings. All this to carry out federal policy.

The Clean Power Plan implicates every evil associated with unconstitutional commandeering. It dragoons states into administering federal law, irrespective of their citizens’ views. It destroys accountability, by directing the brunt of public disapproval for increased electricity costs and lost jobs onto state officials, when the federal government deserves the blame. And it subverts the horizontal separation of powers, by allowing the executive branch to act where Congress has refused to legislate.

One can only wonder what will be left of our constitutional order if the plan passes judicial muster.

The federal government would no longer be a government of limited powers, but instead be able to compel the states to do its bidding in any area. The states, in turn, would be reduced to puppets of a federal ventriloquist, carrying out the dirty work for which federal actors wish to avoid accountability. And the federal executive, in many instances, could effectively create new law by working through the states, free of the need to win over Congress.

So it is difficult to imagine a U.S. where the Clean Power Plan is the law of the land. It would not be the same country, or the same Constitution, that Americans have enjoyed all these years.

Messrs. Rivkin and Grossman practice appellate and constitutional law in Washington, D.C., and represent the State of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality in their challenge to the Clean Power Plan.

See the article here.

Obama Climate Plan, Now in Court, May Hinge on Error in 1990 Law

Via The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The pitched battle over President Obama’s signatureclimate change policy, which is moving to the courts this week, carries considerable political, economic and historical stakes. Yet its legal fate, widely expected to be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, could rest on a clerical error in an obscure provision of a 26-year-old law.

That error, which left conflicting amendments on power plant regulation in the Clean Air Act, will be a major focus of oral arguments by opponents of Mr. Obama’s initiative when the case is heard on Tuesday in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The initiative, known as the Clean Power Plan, which Mr. Obama sees as at the heart of his climate change legacy, gave the United States critical leverage to broker the landmark 2015 Paris climate change accord. If the plan is struck down, the United States, the world’s largest carbon polluter over the centuries, will lose its main tool to cut greenhouse gas emissions. If it is upheld, it will transform the nation’s electricity system, closing hundreds of coal-fired power plants and setting in motion a wholesale shift to wind, solar and nuclear power, as well as to improved electric transmission systems.

Twenty-eight states and more than 100 companies and labor and industry groups are fighting to overturn the plan. Defending it are 18 states and dozens of environmental and public health groups that have joined forces with the Obama administration. Nearly 20 lawyers will take turns arguing the case before 10 judges — much larger than the typical three-member panel. The judges have allocated four hours to hear the arguments, rather than the usual one or two. The chief judge of the court, Merrick B. Garland, who is also Mr. Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, has recused himself.

Adding to the drama will be the presence of Mr. Obama’s mentor at Harvard Law School, Laurence H. Tribe, who will argue against the climate plan on behalf of the nation’s largest coal company, Peabody Energy.

The long-forgotten clerical error at issue in the case — State of West Virginia, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency — involves an update to the Clean Air Act passed by Congress in 1990.

The Clean Air Act of 1970 is the legal foundation of the Clean Power Plan. An obscure provision in the law — Section 111(d) — gave the E.P.A. broad authority to regulate unknown future pollutants. At the time, carbon dioxide, the nontoxic but heat-trapping gas that is the chief cause of global warming, was not considered a pollutant.

In 1990, when Congress passed the update to the Clean Air Act, it amended Section 111(d). A version of the amendment passed by the House said that if the E.P.A. was already regulating power plant pollution under a separate section of the law, it could not use Section 111(d) to create new regulations on the same plants. A version of the amendment passed by the Senate, however, did allow such overlapping regulation.

When the two bills were merged, lawmakers forgot to strike out one of the conflicting amendments in the bleary-eyed rush to push the bill through. So it was signed into law by President George Bush with both amendments.

Opponents of the Clean Power Plan will argue on Tuesday that a strict interpretation of the House amendment would render the plan illegal.

Last year, when the E.P.A. issued the Clean Power Plan, it used Section 111(d) to justify placing new regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. The agency has also long regulated toxic power plant pollutants, such as mercury, under a different section, 112, of the Clean Air Act.

“In 1990, Congress dramatically expanded the Clean Air Act, and when they did that, they said an industry cannot be double-regulated,” said Jeff Holmstead, a lawyer representing many of the groups suing the administration.

Sean Donahue, a lawyer for the Environmental Defense Fund who will argue this portion of the case before the court, called that legal interpretation “preposterous.”

“It’s very interesting that there was this legislative glitch,” he said. Environmentalists and the administration will argue that because the two types of pollutants are so different, the E.P.A. is justified in using two sections of the law to regulate them.

“This bizarre proposition is like exempting restaurants from food handling requirements because they are subject to the fire code,” Mr. Donahue said.

Opponents of the plan will also focus on two other main points, arguing that Mr. Obama has exceeded his executive authority.

While environmental regulations under the Clean Air Act often require states to cut pollution by using specific technology, such as affixing “scrubbers” to smokestacks, the Clean Power Plan goes further: It asks states to reduce pollution by making changes to their entire electricity systems — shutting down coal plants, and building wind and solar plants. The plan also encourages states to reduce emissions by putting in place “cap-and-trade” systems, which would create state or regional caps on emissions and allow companies to buy and sell credits to pollute.

In his first term, Mr. Obama tried but failed to push a cap-and-trade bill through Congress. Now, his opponents say, he is using regulation to force the system through.

“The E.P.A. is going beyond what it’s authorized to do by Congress and essentially creating new law,” said Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, a leader in coordinating the legal opposition to the plan.

David Doniger, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which worked closely with the Obama administration to draft the plan, dismissed that objection, noting that the E.P.A. already uses a cap-and-trade system to regulate other sources of pollution.

Given the high stakes, the two sides have gone to unusual lengths in their preparation, including what longtime activists say is an unprecedented level of counterintelligence work. Consultants have been gathering once-confidential details about how their opponents are organizing their side of the fight, in an attempt to find embarrassing tidbits that might undermine their arguments, at least in the public’s eye.

Both sides have spent months filing Freedom of Information requests and related lawsuits to obtain email correspondence and other records from their opponents.

Environmental groups sought emails between the state attorneys general who are challenging the Clean Power Plan and executives from the coal and electric utility industries.

Lawyers and consultants paid by the energy industry have sought records showing that environmentalists have worked closely with liberal politicians who support the plan.

“Transparency is a good thing, so having more of these documents serves the public,” said Kert Davies, the executive director of a group called the Climate Investigations Center, which has helped gather counterintelligence information on opponents of the Clean Power Plan. “But it is certainly an escalating war, back and forth. The intensity has peaked.”

See the article here.

Green Energy Dreams Will Hurt the Poor

Via Inside Sources:

Like any good illusionist or pick-pocket, successful politicians and bureaucrats must be adept at the art of misdirection. Commonly used political magic tricks are phrases like “protect the planet” or “fight climate change,” and they are meant to distract people from wondering who will bear the cost of more expansive environmental regulation.

In the case of EPA’s Clean Power Plan and the Department of the Interior’s Stream Protection Rule, low- and middle-income American families will shoulder the heaviest burden because they don’t have the income flexibility to accommodate higher home energy bills.

Consider the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, released about a year ago. EPA declared the CPP to be “a historic and important step” that “takes real action on climate change” and is “fair” and “flexible.” By talking about the CPP in such grandiose terms, EPA attempts to distract people from asking questions like, “Who will pay for this?” and “By how much will the CPP reduce climate change?”

Turns out, the effect on climate change is almost negligible. Applying the same climate model used by the EPA, Benjamin Zycher, from the American Enterprise Institute, determined that the climate benefit of the CPP amounts to a temperature reduction of 0.0015 of one degree by the year 2100. A similar study by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity points out that the small effect on temperature is the equivalent of reducing rising sea levels by “the thickness of one to two human hairs.

So what do Americans really get out of the Clean Power Plan? Answer: more expensive electricity.

EPA’s aggressive assault on cheap electricity affects investment decisions made by owners of coal-fired electricity plants, as they are likely to close plants that would be too expensive to operate under heavy regulation. Within a year of implementation, for example, the CPP is projected to result in the closure of 11 gigawatts of coal-fired electricity, which is enough electricity to power more than2.5 million homes.

EPA isn’t the only government entity leaping at the opportunity to regulate cheap sources of electricity out of business. The Department of the Interior is also attempting to hamstring coal-fired electricity plants through its proposed Stream Protection Rule (SPR). Interior’s trick here is to distract people’s attention with a heart-warming claim about the need to preserve the “quality and quantity of both surface water and the groundwater for future generations when the coal is gone.

Again, this political misdirection draws attention away from the discussion of who will actually bear the burden of preserving a politically determined level of environmental quality. Estimates of the economic effect of the Stream Protection Rule indicate that the people living in Appalachia, whose economies rely on coal, will pay a heavy price if the rule is promulgated.

Nationally, 100,000 to 300,000 mining-related jobs could be lost as $14 billion to $29 billion worth of coal is left useless in the ground because bureaucrats decided it must not be mined. That’s a loss of $3.1 billion to $6.4 billion in federal and state tax revenues, which not only means that coal supplies will shrink, thereby raising the price of coal-generated electricity, but also that the taxes lost will have to be made up somewhere else.

Fewer tax revenues and higher electricity prices mean that more low- and middle-income Americans will fall into the energy poverty trap, as they find themselves spending more of their incomes on meeting basic energy needs.

A cleaner and greener planet are worthy goals, but they can easily become thoughtless rallying cries that blind people to the full cost of regulation. The “look over there!” trick of environmental regulation is class warfare at its finest, as low-income earners are forced to carry the burden of achieving the environmental goals of the political elite.

We must always ask ourselves whom we are willing to harm in order to achieve our supposed “green” dreams.

See the article here.

The EPA’s “Power Plan” Is An Unlawful Power Grab

Via The Daily Caller:

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral argument next Tuesday, September 27 on the Environmental Protection Agency’s so-called Clean Power Plan. The centerpiece of President Obama’s climate policy agenda, the Plan establishes first-ever carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards for “existing” (already built) coal and natural gas power plants. The Plan will increase consumer energy prices and impede job and GDP growth yet have no discernible effect on global temperatures or sea levels. However, that’s not why the Court should strike it down.

The Court should overturn the Plan because it is an unlawful power grab. The Plan will compel States to establish new, or more aggressive, cap-and-trade programs and renewable electricity mandates—policies Congress has debated for 20 years and repeatedly declined to enact. Moreover, no federal statute authorizes the EPA or any other agency to play national electricity czar revising the policies and directing the actions of State legislatures and public utility commissions, yet that is exactly what the EPA has done with the Plan.

The Plan is unlawful on several counts. For starters, section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), the very provision on which the Plan is allegedly based, prohibits the EPA from setting emission standards for existing power plants. The provision specifically excludes from the EPA’s authority “sources”—industrial facilities such as power plants— that are regulated under a different section of the act (section 112). Power plants have been regulated under section 112 since 2011.

Section 111(d) authorizes the EPA to establish “performance standards” based on the “best system of emission reduction” for existing stationary “sources.” To regulate beyond its authority, the EPA played fast and loose with those key statutory terms.

It all began when President Obama told the agency to achieve big reductions in power-sector CO2 emissions. Performance standards are to reflect the best system of emission reduction that is “adequately demonstrated,” meaning feasible and affordable. However, there are no commercial technologies for capturing or filtering CO2 emissions from existing power plants. The only viable option for lowering the emission rates of existing power plants is to run them more efficiently. However, that would reduce power-sector emissions by only a few percentage points—nowhere near enough to satisfy Mr. Obama.

So the EPA reimagined “source”—a term defined as “any building, structure, facility, or installation” that emits air pollutants—to encompass source “owners” and “operators” including their economic activities anywhere in the nation’s electricity marketplace.

The EPA also reimagined the word “system” to refer not just to the way power plants control emissions, but also any “set of things working together” that affects emissions. Since an electric grid is such a “system,” the agency reasoned, the “best system” of emission reduction must include market-restructuring policies such as cap-and-trade.

That interpretation is clever, and if Congress wanted to decarbonize the electric grid, it might legislate a program like the Clean Power Plan. However, congressional majorities oppose the Plan, and the CAA does not allow the EPA to do what it is doing.

The illegality of the Plan is evident in its paradoxical and even absurd results. To get the big emission reductions Obama wants, the Plan sets CO2 performance standards for existing, decades-old, power plants that are infeasible and unaffordable even for new state-of-the-art power plants.

The Plan then gives existing source owners the “choice” to comply by paying for new renewable generation, reducing the output of their coal or gas power plants, or simply shutting them down. So the Plan’s so-called performance standards are actually non-performance mandates. Producing less power or closing the plant does not improve its environmental performance. “Produce less or none at all” and “subsidize your competitor’s product” are not valid Clean Air Act performance standards.

The EPA’s Power Plan will seriously undermine the rule of law, federalism, and the separation of powers. What the Supreme Court said in a previous case dealing with CO2 emissions from stationary sources applies in spades to the present controversy: “EPA’s interpretation is . . . unreasonable because it would bring about an enormous and transformative expansion of EPA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.”

See the article here.

Feds Winning Their War on Coal, at a Cost

Via The Wall Street Journal:

In his explanation for the sharp drop in coal industry jobs (“Hard Truths for Trump’s America,” Politics & Ideas, Sept. 14), William Galston dwells on the history of coal mining in the 1900s but ignores the job impact from policies today. Of course, like other industries, labor-saving technologies have cost some coal jobs to save others, but the Obama administration’s regulations have deliberately sought the demise of coal and the jobs it supports. Big difference.

For example, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards closed at least 33 gigawatts of coal-based capacity. The Energy Information Administration estimated another major capacity reduction from the pending Clean Power Plan. If upheld in court, this regulation could claim a total of 225,000 jobs. The Stream Protection Rule could cost up to 40,000 more mining jobs, and a multiyear moratorium on new federal coal leases threatens to displace still others. Studies from Duke and King universities confirm the unarguable impact of regulations like these on coal-industry employment.

The presidential candidates may not bring all these jobs back, but they can prevent the further loss of jobs that pay $84,000 or more annually. The president recently called for an honest dialogue about the plight of coal communities. A good start would be to acknowledge the real “hard” truth Mr. Galston ignores: that policies designed to keep coal in the ground also keep jobs away from workers, revenue from coal states and affordable electricity from consumers.

Hal Quinn

President and CEO

National Mining Association

Washington

See the article here.

Quinn: Coal Column is Insightful

Via The Craig Daily Press:

To the editor

Danielle Elkins’ recent opinion column provided a thoughtful perspective on the stress and anxiety in coal communities across the nation due to the sharp loss of coal jobs recently. It is true that the industry has faced drops in the number of mines and miners in the past, but the remaining and new mines were larger, more productive and miners’ wages increased. Today, the average coal mine wage is almost $84,000 and with overtime miners can take home six figures a year.

As recently as 2011, more coal miners were employed than in 1990. Since 2011, more than 67,000 coal miners have lost their jobs. Why? Some credit low natural gas prices. However, the study Ms. Elkins referenced from King University found that natural gas prices only had a modest effect — accounting for a loss of 20 million tons of lost coal production before 2013. Since then, government regulations that came into effect account for the loss of 105 million tons of coal production. The King University study confirms what an earlier Duke University study predicted —low natural gas prices threatened less than 10 percent of the nation’s coal power plants while EPA regulations for power plants threatened more than 50 percent of them. EPA’s most recent costly power plan would more than double the number of power plants closed to date, but without the new rules coal production would increase and stabilize according to the Energy Information Administration.

Ms. Elkins is correct that the coal industry’s fate remains to be determined. And, she is doubly right that the common thread among coal communities across the country — from Southwest Virginia to Craig — is their tremendous sense of community and willingness to help one another during hard times.

Hal Quinn

President and CEO or the National Mining Association

See the article here.

NMA Highlights 10 Things to Know about the Clean Power Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C.– On Sept. 27, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on the administration’s so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP). The proceedings will be followed closely by stakeholders across the country. The National Mining Association (NMA) challenged the rule and has summarized ten things to know in advance of the arguments.

  1. What is the rule about?

The CPP is a policy that limits carbon dioxide emissions produced from power plants. If implemented, the rule would transform the mix of electricity generation in nearly every state in the nation.

  1.         What has happened to date?

The rule was first proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency in June 2014, formally unveiled by President Obama on Aug. 3, 2015, and officially published in final form on Oct. 23, 2016.

Due to concerns about immediate negative economic consequences and wide-ranging legal defects including the rule’s constitutionality, regulatory overreach, and the about face on 45 years of established interpretation of the Clean Air Act, it was immediately challenged in court (West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency) by a broad coalition of concerned parties.  Due to the extraordinary nature of the case, and the threat of immediate economic harm posed by the rule, the Supreme Court issued a stay on Feb. 9, 2016, suspending any obligation by the states to implement the rule before litigation is completed. The Supreme Court has never before issued a stay of a government regulation before an underlying court hears the merits of the case. Additional recognition of the significance of the case came from the D.C. Circuit, which made the extraordinary decision to go directly to en banc review of the case on Sept. 27.

  1. Who is challenging the rule in court?

In addition to the National Mining Association, 150 parties are challenging the rule in court.

They include 27 states (with an additional amicus brief from Nevada opposing the rule); the coal industry; the utility industry, public power and co-ops; labor groups; industry associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers and others.

  1.         What will be covered in court?

The issues to be covered, in order by argument segment, as designated by the court, are:

  • Segment 1: All issues related to EPA’s statutory authority, including inside/outside fence line and state authority issues, except those related to Clean Air Act Section 112.
  • Segment 2: Issues related to whether Section 112 of the Clean Air Act bars regulation under Section 111(d).
  • Segment 3: Constitutional issues.
  • Segment 4: Issues related to whether the CPP was properly noticed.
  • Segment 5: Records-based issues not submitted on briefs.
  1. What are the key legal issues that have been raised?

A key issue concern’s EPA’s authority under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. (Segment 1)

As articulated in NMA’s stay motion and subsequent court filings, EPA’s authority is limited to regulating “sources” themselves – in this instance, fossil fuel burning power plants – by adopting standards of performance to reduce emissions that can be implemented by individual plants. In promulgating the rule, EPA jettisoned 45 years of consistent interpretation of its authority and abruptly determined that it could use the states to impose reduction requirements premised overwhelmingly on reducing or even eliminating operations at fossil plants and making fossil generation owners subsidize the development of renewable generation. In fact, says NMA’s brief, “the rule’s reduction requirements can be met only by shutting down hundreds of coal-fired plants, limiting the use of others, and requiring the construction and operation of other types of facilities preferred by EPA—a directive EPA euphemistically calls ‘generation shifting.’”  [This is frequently referred to as the “beyond the fenceline” argument because the means of compliance are outside of the boundaries of the power plants being regulated.]

Other legal arguments:

  • EPA cannot regulate sources under 111(d) that are already regulated under section 112 [111 vs 112 argument] (Segment 2)
  • The rule is unlawful because it prevents states from exercising the authority granted to them under section 111 to establish standards of performance and take into account the remaining useful life of an existing source when applying a standard to that source [remaining useful life argument] (Segment 3)
  • The rule violates the U.S. Constitution by compelling the states to implement federal policies [commandeering argument] (Segment 4))
  1. Have the courts examined similar issues in the past? (key precedent cases)

Those challenging the rule will point to recent Supreme Court cases that question EPA’s authority.

As the Supreme Court recently said, courts should “greet … with a measure of skepticism” claims by EPA to have “discover[ed] in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate a significant portion of the American economy” and make “decisions of vast economic and political significance,”Util. Air Regulatory Grp. v. EPA, 134 S. Ct. 2427, 2444 (2014) (“UARG”) (internal quotation marks omitted), especially in areas outside an agency’s “expertise,” King v. Burwell, 135 S. Ct. 2480, 2489 (2015). That skepticism is doubly warranted here where EPA’s rule intrudes on an “area of traditional state responsibility,” Bond v. United States, 134 S. Ct. 2077, 2089 (2014)—namely, the states’ “traditional authority over the need for additional generating capacity, the type of generating facilities to be licensed, land use, ratemaking, and the like,”Pac. Gas & Elec. Co. v. State Energy Res. Conservation & Dev. Comm’n, 461 U.S. 190, 212 (1983) (“PG&E”).

Those defending the EPA rule will likely refer to a less recent Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), which determined EPA had the authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.  Massachusetts, however, did not say how EPA may regulate and so provides no authority for the CPP.

  1. What will it mean for Americans if the rule is upheld?

There will be immediate and irreparable economic harm, and indeed there already has been harm. While climate change benefits will be virtually unmeasurable, the EPA’s own estimates forecast that even before the CPP takes effect it will force the retirement of 56 coal-fired power plants from 2016–2018—plants that used 55.3 million tons of coal in 2014—limiting the ability to rely on coal for the diversification that allows price increases in any one fuel to be offset by another.

If implemented, the widespread ripple effects of the closures will be felt by nearly all Americans. The typical annual household electricity bills in 2020 will be more than a third higher than they were in 2012, (an estimated $680 per family). Currently Americans save an estimated $93 billion in electricity costs annually through the diverse power grid that is anchored by coal. Under the CPP, however, more than 40 states will face double-digit increases in the cost of wholesale electricity, with the CPP increasing wholesale electricity prices by $214 billion, and an additional $64 billion for the construction of replacement generating capacity.

To view state-by-state impacts of the CPP, visit:http://www.countoncoal.org/costly-power-plan/

  1. What are the climate implications if the rule is upheld?

Climate change benefits will be virtually unmeasurable—with global temperatures reduced by 0.018°C by the year 2100, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 reduced by less than one percent and sea level rise reduced by 0.3 millimeters (less than three sheets of paper) by 2050.

  1. What will it mean if the rule is struck down?

If the rule is struck down in its entirety, EPA cannot go back to the drawing board to develop another overreaching rule but must regulate within the bounds Congress mandated, as it has consistently done for the 45 years leading up to the CPP. States will retain the authority they now have to make energy choices that best fit their circumstances, infrastructure and available mix of energy generation.

  1. What happens after the 27th?

A decision expected from the DC Circuit in late 2016 or early 2017, with an immediate appeal to the Supreme Court by the losing party nearly inevitable.

Supreme Court would likely hear the case in 2017 and issue a decision in 2018.

See the release here.

Why Coal Will Matter in the Fall Election

Via Breitbart.com:

Just when Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” comment set a new low for insensitivity, we saw another real zinger this week from former Clinton White House staffer William Galston.

In a smug Wall Street Journal op-ed, Galston deemed the “war on coal” a claim perpetuated by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to reinforce the coal community’s perceived “victimhood.”

Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, a few things have happened:

  • In 2008, President Obama promised, “If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them.”
  • The president’s subsequent MATS rule shut down at least 33 GW of coal-fired power in the United States.
  • His recently announced moratorium on federal coal leases locks up sizable portions of western coal reserves.
  • The new Stream Protection Rule (SPR)—written while the administration spent six years dodging its legal obligations to state mining agencies—could potentially eliminate half of existing U.S. coal mines.
  • And, the Clean Power Plan—currently stayed by a concerned Supreme Court—would likely eliminate 40 percent of America’s remaining coal fleet.

Even with this obvious, open-ended hostility from Washington, however, America’s coal communities are being told, “Sorry, natural gas simply outcompeted you.” And all of that even as the president simply made good on his 2008 promise.

Now we’re left with stark choices. Donald Trump has promised a “targeted review” of the Clean Power Plan because it “forces investment in renewable energy at the expense of coal and natural gas, raising electricity rates.” Hillary Clinton, in contrast, has praised President Obama’s efforts to keep fossil fuels “in the ground,” and wants to fully implement the Clean Power Plan.

Essentially, Clinton wants to end coal use, and Trump wants to defend it.

It’s important to note that new, coal-based power plants in the United States are up to 90 percent cleaner than the older plants they replaced, thanks to the widespread use of scrubbers and high-tech emissions controls. And these clean-coal plants still generate 33 percent of all U.S. power. That means any effort to lock up coal could spark an electoral backlash.

Here’s why: Seventeen states are up for grabs in the fall election. Notably, 13 of them rely on coal for up to half of their electric power. These 13 swing states represent a whopping 149 electoral votes. That’s more than half the amount needed to reach the White House.

The question come November could be whether or not voters in these coal-dependent states are willing to happily surrender their durable, cheap electricity along with the jobs it supports.

Understandably, they may not want to give up on coal. The power plants in these “Big 13” states generate some of the lowest electricity prices in the nation, and also support roughly 370,000 jobs and $90 billion in economic activity. That sort of financial interdependence between coal power and the surrounding economy can’t be switched off overnight. Especially when these same states plan to invest $58.5 billion by 2020 to make their power plants cleaner.

If coal becomes a pocketbook issue for voters this fall, “keeping coal in the ground” may not be a winning message for political candidates any more than it is a practical energy policy for the country.

President Obama has already seen the shuttering of 200 coal plants, and will likely witness the closing of another 46 of them soon. At the same time, energy experts are warning of the grid’s increasing vulnerability to power shortages. A hit to coal and affordable power will undoubtedly knock Americans hard in the wallet. And so, come November, coal may well be as potent a political issue as it is an important energy source.

Terry M. Jarrett has served on both the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the Missouri Public Service Commission.

See the article here.

Editorial: Yes, There is a War on Coal

Via The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel: 

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is a funny guy. He took his comedy routine on the road this week, telling attendees at the Mid-Atlantic Region Energy Innovation Forum at West Virginia University that the Obama administration isn’t waging a “war on coal” In fact, it is working to maintain coal as an important part of a low-carbon energy future.Moniz’s boss is a man who proposed a plan in 2008 under which electricity rates would “necessarily” skyrocket. “If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can,” President Obama said. “It’s just that it will bankrupt them.”And Hillary Clinton, who wants to be the new boss, has said in a campaign speech, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”Sure sounds like a war. And, as the casualties mount up, it looks a lot like one, too. Over the past five years, dozens of U.S. coal mining companies have had to declare bankruptcy, including many of the nation’s largest companies. The number of operating coal mines has plummeted from 1,013 in early 2009 to fewer than 400 today. America now has 83,000 fewer coal jobs than it did when Obama took office.

 To be fair, the biggest factor in the continuing decline of coal is the availability and cheapness of natural gas, which power companies are naturally transitioning to. Who wouldn’t rather have energy that is cleaner and less expensive?But such transitions should be smoother and less disruptive than this one has been. With its crippling environmental regulations — intentionally crippling — the administration is accelerating the process and hastening the demise of coal. That is not good for anything — the economy or the energy sector or American consumers.Actually, if he is sincere, Moniz has a pretty good idea. He also said in his remarks that Congress needs to pass tax credits that could help power plants burn coal more cleanly. The credits would send a signal to utilities and investors about coal’s viability for future power plant investments, Moniz said.Coal contributes to nearly 85 percent of Indiana’s total energy. In fact, only Texas consumes more coal than we do. This issues matters much more to Hoosiers than to residents of most states. So pay attention.
See the article here.

Obama Administration Energy Policy Threatens U.S. Economy

Via The Daily Caller:

If continued the Obama administration’s current energy policy will deal a devastating blow to the nation’s energy production. In a recent study, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce looked at what would happen if the current policies of the Obama administration and the “Keep it in the Ground” activists were enacted. Not surprisingly, the result is a sharp decline in the current production of energy, the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, and a devastating economic impact on several states.

The use of federal lands for energy production has been a hotly debated issue in recent years. Heavily influenced by the “Keep It In the Ground” mindset, several prominent Democrats, including Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the Democrat nominee for president Hillary Clinton, have become ardent supporters of limiting or banning the use of federal lands for energy production. Of course, this ban would only apply to certain methods of energy production that they have deemed “bad” for the environment.

These restrictive and harmful energy policies are the center of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “What if Energy Production Was Banned on Federal Lands and Waters?” The study shows what the impact of these policies would be if they were continued or enacted fully.

The United States would lose nearly a quarter of the nation’s current production of coal, oil and natural gas. Of the 2.27 billion acres of land in this country, the United States government owns 28 percent of it, which the government has leased out for the use of energy production.

 

In 2006, federal lands accounted for 35 percent of total U.S. fossil fuel production, but in 2015 it only accounted for 24 percent of the total production. This decline has come at a time when the United States has benefited greatly from an increase in domestic energy production. Instead of attempting to fix this problem, the Obama administration has deemed it necessary to further restrict the use of federal land. These actions will greatly compromise U.S. energy production and destroy thousands of jobs.

A total of 380,000 jobs could be lost if energy production is banned on federal lands. Of these 380,000 jobs, over 100,000 jobs are directly related to oil and gas extraction and coal mining. An additional 75,000 workers are employed indirectly by suppliers to these industries, and over 200,000 induced jobs are also supported. These are good jobs that pay wages higher than the national average, and if lost numerous families will be devastated by the loss of income. Yet, the current administration continues to put these jobs at risk.

These policies will deal a devastating economic blow to states. The royalties generated from federal lands represent a significant source of income for several states. In most cases, this income goes to educational programs and local governments. Also, let’s not forget the decrease in GDP overall in states dependent upon the energy sector. The hardest hit states would be:

Colorado: has the highest number of oil and gas employees working on federal lands, which amounts to 50,000 jobs when including indirect and induced jobs. This sector alone contributes nearly $8.3 billion to the GDP of Colorado.

New Mexico: receives a startling $496 million in state royalties from energy production on federal lands. Outside of sales and income tax this is the highest source of revenue for the state. Energy production also accounts for $4 billion of the state’s GDP.

Wyoming: would be hardest hit. It receives nearly $1 billion in royalties from the leasing of federal lands. Additionally, oil, gas, and coal development activities account for nearly 20 percent of the state’s GDP.

Hundreds of thousands of American jobs lost, a severe economic blow to the states, and a sharp economic decline are the result if the “Keep it In the Ground” mindset prevails. The Obama administration has already taken the first step by issuing a moratorium on the leasing of federal land for coal production. If this continues, all of the economic gains that the United States has made since the Great Recession will be put at risk.

Hopefully it is not too late.

See the article here.

Banks: Stop the Assault on Coal

Via The Roanoke Times:

Ironically, as reported by the Washington Examiner newspaper, “the Democratic National Convention likely will receive much of its electricity from coal.” Coal-fired power keeps the lights on while the politicians continue their war on the miners and the industry that employs them.

The U.S. coal industry is reeling. Worse, the people and communities that depend on it are being ignored. Over the past five years, tens of thousands of coal mining jobs have disappeared. U.S. coal production is now at a 30-year low and nearly 350 coal-fired power plants have been taken offline — enough generating capacity to power 40 million homes.

Coal-mining, which has paid for schools and roads and everything in between, is on life support. In West Virginia alone, 35 percent of coal-mining jobs have evaporated since 2011. Nearly every major coal mining company in the U.S. has filed for bankruptcy.

If this were any other industry, the U.S. government surely would have stepped in to help protect communities. But this is coal. Instead of recognizing a crisis, the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, has promised to put a lot more coal miners out of work if she’s elected president.

And here’s another irony: Richard Trumpka, former president of the United Mine Workers of America, spoke on Clinton’s behalf on the first night of the Democratic convention.

There’s a callousness about the hard times felt by coal miners and their families that Americans seem to only reserve for places like West Virginia, Kentucky and Wyoming. It seems to be an out of sight, out of mind attitude about our coal states — states that have provided so much for their country and have received little in return.

Coal, which has long been the mainstay of the national electricity system, still generates one-third of the country’s power. It has powered our way of life and been, quite literally, the lifeblood of our economy for a century. And yet, government policy has swept it aside.

Yes, there many reasons why the U.S. coal industry is struggling. Low-cost natural gas and bad bets on ever-increasing demand for coal in China, to name just two, have taken a toll. But it’s foolish to suggest coal’s decline and current predicament are not the result of calculated policy. One regulation after another has made it more expensive and more difficult both to produce and use coal.

Time and again, utilities have upgraded environmental controls on coal plants to meet stringent emissions standards only to see those standards tightened again. Anti-coal regulations are relentless. Even as the Supreme Court rejects an EPA rule, another takes its place.

To suggest the coal industry has been competing on a level playing field in the electricity marketplace with natural gas or renewable sources of energy defies logic. And yet, many in EPA do just that.

Take wind power. While the coal industry has faced a mounting wave of regulatory action, the U.S. wind industry has received $176 billion in government subsidies since 2000.

The coal industry is being systematically pushed aside. And since government money is being used to fund regulatory action and subsidize alternative energy sources, the very citizens who are hurt most by this anti-coal policy must help pay for their own demise.

It is past time to stop the assault on America’s coal communities. Environmental progress — the kind that has staying power and that can make a difference both here and overseas — takes technological progress, not regulation.

Tucked away in the Department of Energy is the National Energy Technology Laboratory whose mission is to develop technology options to enable continued use of the nation’s secure, abundant and affordable coal resources. Despite opponents claims that there’s no such thing as “clean coal,” with adequate funding there’s a lot that has been done and more than can be done to advance technologies that safeguard the environment.

While there may not be a new coal plant planned in the U.S., there are 1,500 in the pipeline worldwide. China alone uses more than half of the world’s coal.

Environmentalists and government regulators can pretend we can reduce global emissions by torpedoing our own coal industry or they can be intellectually honest. The U.S. and the world need the affordable, reliable power generated from coal. Helping to advance the technology that will allow the world to burn coal more cleanly is the kind of government leadership we need. Destroying American coal communities is certainly not.

See the article here.

Point of View: Low-income Americans Pay Heavy Price for Energy Policies

Via NewsOK:

The clean energy mantra is so loud that it often drowns out the feeble cry of energy poverty. Many Americans are finding it more and more difficult to pay their utility bills, yet this important issue is nearly absent from the debate about America’s energy future.

Modern progressives, who have long fancied themselves as champions of the poor, now see energy policy only through the lens of climate change. Their call to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, at any cost, drives public policy. Consequently, the sources of our most reliable and affordable electricity — existing coal power plants — are being shut down as overzealous federal and state regulatory mandates force utilities to use less reliable and more expensive sources such as wind and solar power.

For those on fixed incomes, increasing energy prices mean the gap between what they can afford to pay and what they are paying for electricity is widening. If we continue to push aside cheap coal-generated electricity for more expensive alternatives, more of the nation’s poor will fall into that gap as they struggle to keep their lights on and their refrigerators running.

To be considered affordable, utility bills should be no more than 6 percent of one’s income. But according to new research, energy costs now represent 20 percent or more of income for many of the poorest Americans.

For those on fixed incomes, increasing energy prices mean the gap between what they can afford to pay and what they are paying for electricity is widening. If we continue to push aside cheap coal-generated electricity for more expensive alternatives, more of the nation’s poor will fall into that gap as they struggle to keep their lights on and their refrigerators running.

To be considered affordable, utility bills should be no more than 6 percent of one’s income. But according to new research, energy costs now represent 20 percent or more of income for many of the poorest Americans.

See the article here.

Obama Kept His Promise, 83,000 Coal Jobs Lost And 400 Mines Shuttered

Via The Daily Caller:

This Labor Day, America has 83,000 fewer coal jobs and 400 coal mines than it did when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, showing that the president has followed through on his pledge to “bankrupt” the coal industry.

A 2015 study found the coal industry lost 50,000 jobs from 2008 to 2012 during Obama’s first term. During Obama’s second term, the industry employment in coal mining has fallen by another 33,300 jobs, 10,900 of which occurred in the last year alone, according to federal data. Currently, coal mining employs 69,460 Americans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Much of the blame for the job losses is targeted at federal regulations aimed at preventing global warming, which caused coal power plants to go bankrupt, resulting in a sharp decline in the price of coal.

“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted,” Obama said during a 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board. Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton also pledged that “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

Employment has fallen so drastically because coal production has fallen by 15 percent since 2008 as companies have been forced by environmental regulation to shut down 400 mines due to decreasing demand. Companies opened 103 new mines in the U.S. in 2013 while 271 coal mines were idled or shut down, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and cheap natural gas have devastating coal companies as well, even forcing Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal company, to declare bankruptcy earlier this month. Other American coal companies have faced financial problems too. Arch Coal filed for bankruptcy as well in January and coal companies like Alliance Coal announced mass layoffs.

As a result, many ex-coal miners are unemployed and Appalachian “coal country” has faced very real economic devastation as a result. The coal-producing areas of eastern Kentucky have an unemployment rate of 8 percent unemployment rates and parts of West Virginia have double-digit unemployment.

Even Obama has recognized the economic devastation, and stated that opposition to his policies by coal miners and people in Appalachia is “perfectly legitimate,” during a December interview with National Public Radio. However, the situation for coal miners would likely get worse if Obama’s Clean Power Plan is fully implemented. The EIA predicts the plan would more than double the number of coal plants shutting down over the next five years. The shutdowns have a cascading effect, causing coal production to collapse by more than 30 percent over the next decade.

The Obama administration responded by offering a mere $14.5 million in federal funding for programs to retrain out-of-work coal miners, after imposing regulations that greatly hampered the American coal industry.

See the article here.

EPA, Enviros Shut Down Two Colorado Coal Plants And Put More Out Of Work

Via The Daily Caller:

Two Colorado coal plants and one mine will be shut down as part of an effort by federal and state regulators and environmentalists to improve visibility at national parks and other areas of the state.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a rural cooperative utility, will shutter its 100 megawatt Nucla Station coal plant and the coal mine that feeds it by 2022 as part of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and the environmental group WildEarth Guardians.

Tri-State will also shutter a 427 megawatt unit at the Craig Station coal plant. Tri-State determined it would be more cost-effective to shutter the coal plants than retrofit them with costly emissions control equipment.

But in doing so, environmental crusaders have crushed a major source of employment for small towns in rural Colorado, sparking concerns they could be on the edge of regional economic depression.

Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid is worried about the economic future of his home town.

“The decision to decommission Unit 1 at Craig Station hurts us and I’m still very angry about it,” Kinkaid told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“We can’t afford any more of this insanity,” he said.

Craig Station, however, isn’t expected to result in any serious job losses, so Kinkaid is optimistic they’ll weather the regulatory storm. But Nucla may not be so lucky, as the town just lost a major source of high-paying jobs.

Closing the Nucla coal plant in Montrose County will impact 55 power plant workers and 28 miners. That may not sound like a lot, but it’s a big concern for a country of just 40,000 people with a poverty rate of more than 10 percent.

The Denver Post notes that “mining and utilities pay the second and third highest weekly wages, double or nearly double the overall average,” in Montrose County.

WildEarth Guardians, the environmental group ultimately responsible for the closings, was thrilled at the new agreement, saying it would cut more than 5 million tons of carbon dioxide every year along with 7,000 tons of haze-and smog-forming emissions.

The Guardians initially sued to have stricter emissions controls put on the Craig and Nucla coal plants in order to improve visibility at national parks. They got a favorable settlement in 2014, and now are celebrating the closure of more coal-fired plants.

It was only last summer that WildEarth Guardian’s spokesman Jeremy Nichols said “tough shit” during last summer’s legal proceedings on the future of the coal plants.

Basically, Montrose County lost dozens of jobs so tourists might be able to get a better view of national parks and Colorado’s natural wonders.

The EPA and others say coal plants are a major source of regional haze, which impairs visibility, but natural sources like fires also contribute a lot to haze. Recent visibility issues in Colorado actually stemmed from wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona, not coal plants.

Will Yeatman, a senior fellow at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), has been a major critic of environmentalists using regional haze regulations to shut down coal plants. Yeatman’s work has shown such rules come with a huge price and make virtually no difference in visibility.

Arkansas recently got hit with an EPA-mandated regional haze plan, or FIP, that Yeatman says will cost a lot of money and make virtually no difference in visibility. He said similar things about Colorado’s haze plan, or SIP.

“For the Arkansas FIP, I have modeled the results, and there would be zero visibility improvement, at a ratepayer cost of almost $200 million annually for 30 years,” Yeatman told TheDCNF.

“The Colorado SIP and the Arkansas FIP are merely the latest all pain, no-gain manifestations of one of the least known but worst regulatory programs of the Obama era,” he said.

See the article here.

Let’s Use More Coal, Open More Coal-fired Power Plants

Via The Livingston Daily:

Our current administrations agenda to protect the environment is superseding the needs of the people. We have been burdened with overzealous regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency and this has forced many of our coal fired power plants to be shut down and ruined the majority of the industry. We have made extensive strides to reduce the emissions from coal and our air quality is at some of the best levels we have seen. Yet, our administration still wants to destroy one of our most reliable sources of energy. Personally, I would like to see us move back to using more coal and opening more coal-fired power plants.

Michigan faces energy prices which are at least 20 percent higher than in other parts of the country. Eliminating the use of coal-fired power plants in our state is narrowing our options for energy considerably. However, supporting our fossil fuels would not only create many new jobs, but it would also provide all of us with more affordable energy while helping to secure our energy independence as a state. It seems to me like a win-win.

Ivan Secord

South Lyon

See the article here.

The ‘War On Coal’ Unexpectedly Hits A Washington Town Struggling To Get By

Via The Daily Caller: 

LONGVIEW, Wash. — In the morning, the industrial site nestled along the Columbia River is eerily quiet.

Lori Black is one of the first employees to arrive most days. She knows the site well, has worked there for 12 years. Five years ago, Millennium Bulk Terminals acquired the 540-acre site. Officials planned to convert an old aluminium smelter into a profitable industrial export facility. They restored a wetland area in one part of the site to show their commitment and began the permit process to export coal.

That was four years ago.

Today, there are more birds and fish on the site than workers, and the coal terminal project has yet to be approved. The project’s environmental approval process is nearing the longest in the history of Washington state.

The terminal’s extended delay has had an economic impact on Longview, where the unemployment rate is roughly 8 percent, higher than the average for both the country and the state of Washington as a whole.

If completed, the project will export 44 million tons of coal per year to East Asia and provide jobs not only in Longview, but further inland in states like Wyoming and Montana.

The Washington Ecology Department told The Daily Caller News Foundation its final environmental review on the coal terminal will be released in 2017.

Regulators want the project to mitigate 50 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions generated not only at the site, but also from the use of the exported coal in Japan or Korea. Supporters call the regulation unprecedented; no other project in the state has been forced to consider life-cycle emissions.

“The precedent that the [draft environmental impact statement] sets would have enormous impacts for businesses across Washington State,” explained project President Bill Chapman who is an environmental lawyer by trade.

“Imagine if Boeing were required to include a calculation of the emissions from every flight one of its planes may take. Or if Amazon had to mitigate for the impacts for every product it shipped, no matter the usage,” Chapman said.

Chapman’s staff is small. The site only employs a mere 36 employees. If approved, that figure would jump more than 10 times, all for the local community. The 300-plus jobs would be in addition to the 2,650 linked to the construction of the $68 million project, as well as benefits to coal-mining communities in other states. Supporters estimate the terminal will generate $5.4 million annually in taxes for the state of Washington.

“It’s an economy that used to have twice as much income and activity. With unemployment at 8 percent, this community needs jobs. And not just minimum wage or service jobs – we need family wage jobs, which is what the community is used to and what Millennium will provide,” Chapman said. (RELATED: DOWN IN THE HOLE: A Look At The People And Way Of Life Suffering Under Washington, DC’s Plan For Coal)

While at work, Black often talks about the future of her two sons and the town they call home. Her youngest son is in the National Guard and is studying at a community college with an eye toward a future in the legal profession, she says. Her eldest graduated from community college two years ago, but was only able to find work at the local Kentucky Fried Chicken. He might have been lucky to find even that; the Longview Kentucky Fried Chicken is the only KFC for a 45-minute drive in either direction along the nearby I-5.

While both of her parents worked in timber mills, Black’s career followed a different path. After earning a university degree in California, she returned to Longview to try her hand in industrial work, eventually becoming an ore loader. It was difficult work, but she got the hang of it. When the site began using a safer automated system, she was elated. Yet, the improvement was short-lived as the smelter closed one year later.

The Man They Named The Town After

In 1923, Long founded what he hoped would be a modern city for workers at his timber mill. It’s possible the mill was the largest in the world at that time.

Long commissioned a number of structures the community still uses today, including a public library and the Monticello Hotel. The industrial focus of the town began to shift during World War II. The site of the proposed Millennium Bulk Export terminal was turned into a coal-fired smelter to produce aluminium, a key component of Allied war planes.

Long’s statue still sits in the park downtown. A few feet away, Eric Gray, 37, played with his toddling son. Gray works as driver for a company that escorts railroad engineers to their assigned trains.

Gray made his support of the project clear, “I would really like to see it happen, I work for a company that services the train industry.”

“We pick-up conductors and engineers from wherever they stop and the people who I pick-up tell me that they put a coating on the coal so the dust doesn’t go everywhere,” Gray said. “It is more profitable to these companies to keep the dust contained. That’s the biggest complaint about the project but, people who are complaining about that are complaining about it from a position of ignorance.”

At a café within sight of the Monticello Hotel, city councilman Mike Wallin described the local economy, “A lot of people in the community are facing job loss and foreclosure on their homes. The area is really hungry for growth and we’re not in a position to get a Honda plant or a server farm.”

“Our strong point, what we are good at is shipping and receiving and we can take advantage of that,” he suggested.

The faded sign of the Monticello Hotel notwithstanding, the town of 37,000 people he insists is a great place to live. “With more money to fund new school teachers and new public workers, it could be even better,” Wallin said.

In Longview, disagreement with the plan can often focus on aesthetic issues. Steven Haine took a break from his jog around Longview’s Lake Sacajawea Park to offer his thoughts on the project.

“The new terminal will mean that the view of the Columbia River from a cemetery will be obstructed, now what kind of legacy is that?” he asked, to which a fellow runner gave his nod.

Nevertheless the majority of residents who spoke to TheDCNF during a visit to the town seem to be in favor of the project and the need to bring jobs to Longview.

A two hour drive north in Olympia, Wash., the Washington Farm Bureau’s short office building sits in a clearing.

CEO John Stuhlmiller, explained why Washington farmers support the Longview coal project. Stuhlmiller believes coal exports will further develop trans-pacific trading networks that will benefit farmers. He said the silos and facilities built for coal could easily expand to include agricultural exports. Rail improvements needed to support the coal trade will also help agriculture.

Making his pitch for the site, Stuhlmiller offered a big picture argument, “We are an export orientated state and we need to stay that way. This site has been handling coal since 1941, look if this site isn’t built the coal is going to be exported elsewhere. Maybe it will be exported from Canada or Mexico which would be a net loss of jobs to us here in Washington.”

“We want Asian economies to use American coal which is often higher quality and cleaner burning than the coal from other countries,” Stuhlmiller noted.

The Washington Farm Bureau is joined by the construction trade in its support for the project.

Lee Newgent, the executive secretary of the Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council speaks for many supporters of the site when he expresses frustration with the long approval process, “This is Washington’s longest ongoing project and it’s a record holder and it gets longer every day.”

“If you look at Canada, our competitor, it is an 18-month process to get environmental permits,” he said. “In Washington, we embrace the fact that you need to have an environmental impact assessment but, you shouldn’t be able to stall it out for infinity.”

See the article here.