Monthly Archives: October 2016

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

Support Investments in Clean Coal

Via The Journal:

In a recent Facebook interview, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy acknowledged the obvious — that she supports the Environmental Left’s “Keep it in the Ground” policy. In an online Mashable discussion with science editor Andrew Freedman, McCarthy said of anti-coal activists, “I think we share the same goal.” She also admitted that the economies of coal states are “in trouble,” and even allowed that EPA’s regulations “steepen the curve” of their decline.

But like a Formula One driver veering from a collision, McCarthy quickly dodged responsibility for this “trouble” by blaming market competition. “Frankly, the coal industry has been going downhill since the 1980s,” she told Mashable.

This is nonsense. Coal production rose steadily from 1980 until 2009. Production in 1980 was 830 million tons and in 2008 it was 1.2 billion tons. Coal employment climbed from 2000 through 2011, reaching a level not seen since 1994. And so, before the Obama Administration decided to destroy it, coal’s share of the nation’s power generation market hit 51 percent-higher by far than competing fuels. Coal also broke records for exports and drove increasing high-wage employment, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs paying an average of $84,000 per year with great benefits.

But beginning with a “MATS rule” in 2011, coal lost half of its entire power generating fleet-sparking a gradual decline in market share that soon accelerated, thanks to a regulatory barrage capped by the Clean Power Plan (CPP). In fact, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates the CPP will shut down another 56 coal plants nationwide. McCarthy and others might point a finger at the market impact of expanding natural gas production, but a recent study by the King University business school showed that natural gas had only a modest effect on coal production. That analysis found EPA regulations actually destroyed five times as much coal demand. And, a Duke University study concluded that less than 10 percent of America’s coal fleet was threatened by natural gas before EPA’s regulations kicked in.

In exchange for leaving the nation with a less diverse energy supply, and global CO2 levels that will remain virtually unchanged, EPA’s climate regulations have contributed to the loss of 68,000 jobs in coal communities — with more layoffs to come. The resulting “trouble” is serious enough that McCarthy’s own administration has proposed a $3 billion aid package to repair the damage. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton believes the damage merits $30 billion in federal aid.

In short, coal’s distress is not the result of market competition. The MATS rule, the Clean Power Plan, renewable fuel standards, New Source Performance Standards, the retroactive vetoes of mining permits, hefty federal subsidies for competing fuels-none of these is the result of “market conditions.” They are government decisions.

Coincidentally, the same week that McCarthy was denying the cost of her regulations, a federal judge sought to clarify them. In a summary judgement against EPA, Judge John Preston Bailey berated EPA for ignoring its legal obligation to weigh regulatory costs. “EPA cannot redefine statutes to avoid complying with them,” he said. “Nor can EPA render them superfluous or contrary to their original purpose by simply defining them to be.”

Not to be outdone, McCarthy has claimed that she can’t find “one single bit of evidence” of job losses stemming from her climate change regulations. Maybe she hasn’t bothered to look.

Point is, if we’re going to agree on enduring environmental solutions, we need an honest discussion about the costs as well as the science. And that begins by acknowledging the importance of advanced technologies that can make coal cleaner, rather than poorly designed and costly federal measures. It’s time let America’s engineers find climate solutions, not Washington’s regulators.

See the article here.

Rob Portman Touts Importance of Coal in Visit to Tuscarawas County Mine

Via The Times Reporter:

DENNISON U.S. Sen. Rob Portman stopped at the Tusky Mine on Wednesday to meet with coal miners as part of his 35-county “Countdown to Victory” RV Tour.

“I love doing these tours,” said Portman, who is running for reelection this year. “It gives us a chance to see what’s actually happening on the ground, how the policies in Washington are effecting jobs. In this case, we’ve got a coal mine that’s been shut down because of the war on coal.”

The mine, located just east of Dennison on Pleasant Valley Road, is operated by the Rosebud Coal Co. According to Gary Alkire, Rosebud’s manager of permitting in Ohio, the mine has been idled since last November.

At one time, the mine employed between 60 and 80 people.

The preparation plant is still in operation, but only on a limited basis. “We can only process the coal that we can sell,” Alkire said. “Right now, the way things are with these power plants closing in Ohio, our markets are severely reduced, so we’re having trouble selling the coal that we’re capable of making and producing here.”

Portman said he has introduced legislation in the Senate to burn coal more cleanly.

“I’d like to use our Ohio coal and our Ohio power plants, and give the power plants a tax incentive to burn it more cleanly,” he said.

During his tour of the Tusky Mine, the senator walked the grounds and went through the coal preparation plant.

Among those accompanying Portman was Jerry Murphy of New Athens, who works at Rosebud’s Vail Mine near Freeport. Murphy comes from a family of miners. His father, brother, brother-in-law and two uncles also are in the profession. Murphy has also appeared in campaign ads for the senator.

Portman said it’s important for someone in his position to see the impact that regulations written in Washington have on families and communities.

Speaking of Murphy, he said, “This is a family tradition, and they love it. They want to mine coal.”

Portman said he believes that coal has a future in Ohio.

“We still have a lot of coal-fired plants. Sixty-eight percent of us get our electricity from coal. Ohio is a coal state. We produce it, we move it, we burn it, we use it for electricity. In the past five and a half years, during this administration, the price of electricity for consumers has gone up 25 percent in Ohio. Federal regulations have resulted in the shutdown of 14 power plants already.”

The industry has been hit hard by the low price of coal, as well as competition from the natural gas industry. Construction has begun on a gas-fired power plant in Carrollton, and plans are in the works for another in Harrison County.

Portman said the availability of natural gas has had an impact on coal.

“That’s part of the issue, no question about it, but there’s room for both,” he said. “Natural gas can be used in so many other ways, for home heating and fuel, that you’re not going to look to coal for.”

He noted that an energy bill passed by the Senate would allow the export of natural gas, which would help increase energy production in eastern Ohio.

Portman also took a swipe at his opponent in the Senate race, former Gov. Ted Strickland. He said Strickland used to be pro-coal but now supports the regulations that coal company officials are worried about.

Christian Palich, president of the Ohio Coal Association, applauded Portman’s visit.

“That Sen. Portman came out here to hear first-hand what President Obama’s war on coal has done to eastern and southeastern Ohio shows he’s the friend of coal in the race for the United States Senate,” Palich said. “His opponent endorsed Hillary Clinton, who said she’s going to put coal miners like Jerry (Murphy) out of business. That’s unacceptable, so we really appreciate the senator coming out here and hearing first-hand what the issues of our companies are and going back to Washington and fighting for us. And that’s what he’s done in his first term and we know he’s going to do in his second.”

Portman’s “Countdown to Victory” tour will make 80 stops across the state, including 12 colleges, and will cover more than 4,000 miles.

See the article here.

Clean Coal: A Light In The Coming Energy Void

There have been few heroes in this utterly tiresome political silly season. We’re all sick of what Donald Trump is grabbing and what Hillary Clinton is deleting, where Gary Johnson is Aleppo-ing and that Jill Stein even exists.
For a few briefs moments at the end of second debate, though, it seemed that just such a hero might finally have arisen. His name was Ken Bone.
The pride and joy of Shiloh, Illinois, Ken pierced the inky blackness and brought a laser-like focus to one of the most important yet most consistently overlooked issues in this year’s presidential mêlée: clean coal. His question in the second debate, asking what the candidates planned to do to insure clean methods for meeting domestic energy consumption, elicited one of the best answers Trump pieced together any of his three encounters with Clinton.
 
The last eight years have been rough on America’s most venerable energy resource. Obama had scarcely taken the oath of office before his administration launched an all-out blitz against the American coal industry. Using regulations on carbon emissions as a convenient scourge, the administration has driven coal mines to close, forcing legions of blue-collar coal miners into unemployment. Roughly twenty percent of America’s coal workforce found themselves without jobs under the Obama regime – fifty thousand coal jobs were destroyed in his first term and another 33,300 in his second. Never one to miss a chance at compounding an error, Obama invested billions of tax dollars on solar and wind boondoggles. Although many of his political promises fell by the side of the road, his pledge to bankrupt coal companies is one that he has kept: Peabody Energy, which is the world’s largest energy company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September, and Arch Coal preceded it to bankruptcy court in January of this year.
 
There’s little doubt a Hillary administration will be the horror show Trump promises for the coal sector. She has said as much herself, assuring coal miners and coal companies they have little to look forward to beyond becoming lambs slaughtered at the altar of environmentalism.
 
Obama’s scorched-earth policy has ignored several positive factors coal power brings to the table. Traditionally responsible for fully half of this country’s energy needs, the United States rests atop enough coal to power this country for another two-and-one-half centuries. Calling the US “the Saudi Arabia of coal” as he did during his first presidential run, Obama significantly understated the situation – the United States has more energy in coal than Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, and Russia combined have in oil reserves. Coal can be found in thirty-eight states, and a complex and highly-evolved distribution network allows it to be moved where it is needed quickly and efficiently.
 
Though the Trump train finds itself perilously close to derailing, focusing on the promise locked within clean coal and other fossil fuels seemed like it could have been the issue to put his campaign back on track. Examples of how such technology can be implemented abound. As Trump pointed out in a fleeting moment of clarity in the third debate, China and India are both enjoying economic growth at a much faster rate than we are: India’s “8% growth rate” (7.1%, to be technical) is being fueled in large part in coal energy, since wind and solar power simply can’t generate enough power to meet the massive needs of a country where 304 million people don’t have access to electricity. Instead of ignoring their coal reserves, our burgeoning economic rivals are mitigating emissions by utilizing scrubbers that filter out ash and soot. By developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, they will be able to capture the emitted carbon dioxide and pumps it into vast underground storage reservoirs where it can be stored for timescales beyond those of human lifetimes.
 
Other projects proving the concept of clean coal are taking shape closer to home, including just north of the border at the Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan. SaskPower, the province’s lone energy provider, has taken China’s approach one step further – they are planning to capture one million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year to the petroleum company Cenovus Energy for it to utilize in extracting oil reserves that have remained locked away and inaccessible to conventional extraction means.
Examples of proven clean coal technology are not limited to foreign locales, either. Just last week the coal gasification plant in Kempner, Mississippi produced its first batch of electricity. Using synthetic natural gas converted from Mississippi lignite coal, this first success has been achieved largely without the massive federal funding solar and wind energy projects enjoy; the United States Department of Energy pitched in $245 million, but that’s barely a drop in the bucket of the $6.9 billion required to bring the project online.
 
For clean coal to be a reality, the US government must make a commitment to investing in the technology in the same way it has with other such industries. Increasing efficiency in coal-fired plants is among the most effective methods for reducing emissions across the board. According to the World Energy Council, for each percent gain in efficiency, a two-percent reduction in CO2, NOx, SO2, and particulate matter results. Once efficiency rates reach supercritical and ultra-supercritical levels, up to forty percent less carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere than traditional subcritical coal plants. The bang for the investment buck has been significant – the industry has invested $120 billion since 1990 to cut emissions, and the result to date has been a 55% decrease in NOx emissions, a 70% drop in sulfur dioxide output, and a 92% drop in PM10 emissions since 1970. While environmentalists keep disingenuously pushing the mantra that wind and solar are all this country need, an actual, practical solution to the emissions issue is staring us in the face.
 
Clean coal technology offers affordable, secure, and environmentally responsible energy production that will put Americans back to work. Yes, it requires a long-term financial commitment from Washington to bring it to fruition, but that is no more than the other “clean” energy industries have already gotten. Resuscitating the coal industry would also throw a badly-needed lifeline to this country’s hardest-hit communities; for their (and our) sake, we can scarcely afford not to explore this road.

See the article here.

Mooney Calls for Closer Look at Stream Protection Rule

Via West Virginia MetroNews:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — West Virginia Second District Congressman Alex Mooney urged an Obama administration official to take a close look at the economic impact the federal Stream Protection Rule would have on the Mountain State in a meeting that took place in Washington, D.C. earlier this week.

Mooney met with Office of Management and Budget Administrator Howard Shelanski Thursday. Part of Shelanski’s job is to review the impact of rules proposed by agencies, Mooney said.

“We’re appealing to him for some fairness on the economic impact (of the Stream Protection Rule). I believe he does see that as his duty to make sure that whatever rules are promulgated can withstand court scrutiny,” Mooney, who has a bill that would put a two-year pause on the rule, said.

The Stream Protection Rule, also called the “buffer zone rule,” overhauls and updates rules first implemented in 1983 and are written to address any potentially negative environmental effects from coal mining on surface water and groundwater.

Once finalized, the rule could apply to about 6,500 miles of streams and will cover both surface mines and any surface effects originating in underground mines.

U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement has failed to highlight the economic impact, Mooney said.

“The folks pushing this in the Department of Interior have claimed there would be virtually no economic impact, no job loss, and I point out that’s simply not true,” Mooney said.

He said he made that point to Shelanski.

“This rule would be, we believe, drastically horrible for the coal mining industry. It would be another tough shot,” Mooney said.

Mooney’s meeting comes a few days after a federal judge ordered the EPA to respond to job loss concerns. U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must meet requirements of the 1971 Clean Air Act.

Bailey’s order gives the EPA 14 days to come up with a plan and implementation schedule that would determine the potential job losses caused by agency regulations. The ruling followed a lawsuit filed by Murray Energy.

Shelanski still has to review the Stream Protection Rule and then there would be another 30 days before it is finalized, Mooney said.

See the article here.

EPA Undeterred by Court Rulings

Via The Salem News:

Let us hope there remains enough fidelity to the Constitution among U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials that a federal judge’s order on Monday means something to them. Unfortunately, recent history suggests that may be an unrealistic thought.

Ohioans and millions of other Americans who may not even understand the stakes won a victory Monday against President Barack Obama’s war on coal and affordable electricity. It came in the form of a ruling by U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey in Wheeling.

Bailey ruled in favor of Murray Energy Corp. and its subsidiaries in a lawsuit filed against the EPA. In essence, the ruling requires the agency to do something it has not — take into account the economic impacts of its assault against coal-fired power plants. That is required by the Clean Air Act of 1971, Bailey noted.

Murray, which operates mines in Ohio, nearby West Virginia and other states, has filed six lawsuits against the EPA. Company President and CEO Robert Murray explained why on Monday, citing both closures of coal-fired power plants and job-killing shutdowns of the mines than fed them.

At least 411 coal-fired generating units in the United States have been shut down because of EPA action, Murray said. That eliminated an enormous supply of the “lowest-cost electric power available across the country,” he emphasized.

In addition, the EPA’s actions have meant “tens of thousands of coal miners have been put out of work, and their families are suffering,”Murray said.

The company, along with officials in several states, previously had been successful in gaining a U.S. Supreme Court order that the EPA delay implementation of Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) — devised in spite of rather than in cooperation with Congress. If enforced, it will close more power plants and coal mines.

But it was the EPA’s reaction to that order that should concern many Americans who rely on affordable electricity from coal-fired power plants.

EPA officials have continued to move forward with the CPP, insisting they are merely helping states plan for it, not implementing it.

That is nonsense, of course. EPA officials know full well they are thumbing their noses at the Supreme Court. They also understand what they are doing encourages states to adopt CPP-compliant rules that will mean more power plant closures.

Bailey has ordered the agency to conduct the required evaluation of the economic effects of its actions. His decision reminds the agency its war on coal and affordable electricity has, in effect, been conducted illegally.

Unfortunately, Obama and his minions at the EPA have not let that worry them in the past.

See the article here.

EPA Required to Follow Law: Imagine That!

Via The Charleston Gazette-Mail:

Perhaps the Obama appointees at the burgeoning U.S. Environmental Protection Agency didn’t believe they’d ever hear such a statement.

But U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia Judge John Preston Bailey said in a ruling earlier this week the EPA must follow the law.

It’s a shocker, we know, considering the overreaching federal agency has consistently been acting as if the law applies to anyone else — primarily the energy companies, farmers, manufacturers and others for whom the agency regularly promulgates more costly and burdensome regulations with no consideration for the economic impact to the ones being regulated.

Bailey gave the EPA 14 days to submit a plan for completing a study of both the general jobs impact of air pollution rules and specific effects of such regulations on the coal industry, reported the Gazette-Mail’s Ken Ward Jr.

In a 64-page opinion, Bailey cited a section of the Clean Air Act that states the EPA “shall conduct continuing evaluations of potential loss or shifts of employment which may result from the administration or enforcement” of the law, including, “where appropriate, investigating threatened plant closures or reductions in employment allegedly resulting from such administration or enforcement.”

 Bailey noted that Congress required such evaluations “to provide information which could lead the EPA or Congress to amend … prior EPA actions.”

“This is a great day for coal miners in the United States, and for all citizens who rely on low-cost electricity in America,” said coal operator Bob Murray, who, with his company Murray Energy and others, sued the agency.

“We will continue to vigorously pursue this lawsuit, and all of our litigation initiatives, in order to protect the lives and livelihoods of coal miners and their families, to defend the rule of law and to preserve reliable and low-cost electricity in our country.”

Opined MetroNews and Daily Mail columnist Hoppy Kercheval, “In making his ruling, the judge swatted away the EPA’s weak argument that the agency really didn’t have to say whether their regs caused anybody to lose their job, and even if it did, that information would not be public.”

Continued Kercheval, “Judge Bailey made it clear the EPA is not above the law. ‘EPA cannot redefine statutes to avoid complying with them,’ he wrote.”

It’s unfortunate it takes judicial rulings instead of smart agency management to make the massive regulatory agency understand that it, too, must comply with the law, and must do so in a transparent manner.

See the article here.

Morrisey Praised for Defending W.Va. Coal Miners

Via The Wheeling News-Register:

For the last four years, no one has done more to defend our jobs, our industry and our West Virginia way of life than Patrick Morrisey, as our Attorney General. On behalf of our coal industry, our managers and the best coal miners in the world, we have to do everything possible to be sure Patrick Morrisey is re-elected and will continue to serve as our Attorney General.          The Obama administration has done nothing but brings negativity to our coal miners’ jobs and economic harm to our state. Attorney General Morrisey has mounted strong and fruitful legal initiatives to stop this war on coal and protect our people.

While the presidential and gubernatorial races have taken up most of the limelight, our attorney general has been getting more than one-half of the states in this nation to join his efforts to stop the EPA’s assault on our coal and agricultural industries. Because of that, those of us who depend on the coal industry for our livelihood and as a means for remaining in West Virginia must recognize that this race for attorney general has enormous consequences for our state and its future.

In 2015, the Obama Administration’s EPA released its “Clean Power Plan (CPP) regulations,” a drastic new set of rules aimed at severely limiting the ability of coal producing states to continue to operate their mines and power plants. The idea behind the mandate is to force a switch to other sources of energy and take coal miners’ jobs.  In many circles, this CPP is referred to as the “Costly” Power Plan because, if enacted, it would increase the cost of our electricity by 30 percent (2030) and displace 24,000 jobs (2020) across this country for those who can least afford it!

The importance of Morrisey’s litigation is vividly clear to West Virginians because we can hardly afford to pay more to keep our lights on during this significant government-imposed recession.

In addition to being a job killer, these EPA regulations are almost certainly unconstitutional. Laurence Tribe, a famous liberal law professor, agreed with this assessment in a column in the Wall Street Journal by writing, “I recently filed comments with the EPA urging the agency to withdraw its Clean Power Plan… In my view coping with climate change is a vital end, but it does not justify using unconstitutional means… I concluded that the agency is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority.”

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also believes the EPA has exceeded its legal authority and is leading a coalition of 27 states’ attorneys general and industry groups filing suit to stop these onerous regulations. Their case was heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit recently, and the verdict has not yet been handed down, but we have our fingers crossed for a positive outcome since it has so much to do with our jobs and West Virginia’s future.

Astonishingly, Patrick Morrisey’s opponent, State Delegate Doug Reynolds, supported legislation that would have weakened the power of the attorney general to sue the federal government. You read that correctly: Doug Reynolds tried to cut the legs out from under Patrick Morrisey while Morrisey was fighting for the future of West Virginia’s economy. Whether Reynolds cast this vote due to an ideological commitment to President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s environmentalist agenda (he has donated money to both) or simply a case of extremely poor judgment, it is a disqualifying and a very concerning vote.

Patrick Morrisey has assembled a staff of eminently qualified, nationally recognized attorneys who have worked at the highest levels of our country’s legal system and they have done superb work on other high priority issues.

Morrisey’s team has tackled the state’s opioid crisis head on and forced several settlements with drug companies that will help limit the supply of opioids in West Virginia. Their efforts have won the endorsement of medical groups for the comprehensive best practices guidelines seeking to crack down on over-prescription of potentially addictive drugs.

Also, Morrisey has partnered with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on faith-based initiatives to fight substance abuse and has initiated programs to coordinate with federal officials to combat trafficking. Overall, Attorney General Morrisey and his outstanding staff have put West Virginians first and done exemplary work in serious issues such as protecting consumers and our Second Amendment rights as well as working tirelessly and constructively with the state’s business community.

While the list of responsibilities for an attorney general is long, nothing is more important than the difference between Patrick Morrisey and his opponent on the issue of fighting the EPA’s punitive CPP regulations and federal overreach, in general. West Virginia’s top attorney must be laser-focused on pushing back against these and other federal regulations that are both unconstitutional and harmful to our people and our state.

Morrisey has answered the challenge and is walking where others talk!  We West Virginians must do everything possible to ensure that Patrick Morrisey has another four years to continue fighting the EPA and other arrogant federal bureaucracies that seem to care little for our great coal miners, our jobs and our very way of life.

Ask yourself a question: The next time the federal government oversteps its boundaries, don’t we need Patrick Morrisey, a man who has demonstrated the will and ability to fight all the way to the Supreme Court as opposed to his opponent, who seems to support the continuation of the Obama-Clinton war on coal? We need Patrick Morrisey as our Attorney General. He has and will continue to fight for our jobs, our operations, and our proud West Virginia values.

See the article here.

Judge Tells EPA to Calculate Job Losses From its Rules

Via West Virginia MetroNews:

One of the recurring debates over climate change policy is whether the EPA’s regulatory actions to control carbon emissions have caused the decline in the coal industry.

Coal critics typically attribute the industry’s collapse  to natural gas becoming more plentiful and cheap and, in West Virginia’s case, the increased cost of mining smaller coal seams compared with western coal.

Coal industry supporters argue the regulations, specifically the proposed Clean Power Plan, are forcing coal out of business. They say the CPP  (which is currently under challenge in court) sets unrealistic standards for burning coal in power plants.

Which is correct?

This week, a U.S. District Court in Wheeling ruled that the EPA has a legal responsibility to determine the economic impact of its decisions.  Federal Judge John Preston Bailey ruled that Section 321(a) of the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to calculate coal mine layoffs and shutdowns as a direct result of its regulations.

“This Court further finds that, due to the importance, widespread effects, and the claims of the coal industry, it would be an abuse of discretion for the EPA to refuse to conduct a 321(a) evaluation on the effects of its regulations on the coal industry,” the judge wrote.

In making his ruling, the judge swatted away the EPA’s weak argument that the agency really didn’t have to say whether their regs caused anybody to lose their job, and even if it did, that information would not be public.

Judge Bailey made it clear the EPA is not above the law.  “EPA cannot redefine statues to avoid complying with them,” he wrote.   He gave the EPA 14 days to submit a plan to comply with the order.

Murray Energy President and CEO, Bob Murray, who brought the suit several years ago, welcomed the ruling. The EPA “must tell us how many coal miners’ jobs and lives and family livelihoods are being destroyed,” he said on Talkline Tuesday.

The judge’s ruling is significant.  The originators of section 321(a) forty years ago intended for there to be cost-benefit analysis of EPA actions. A House Committee report said that under the provision “the (EPA) Administrator is mandated to undertake an ongoing evaluation of job losses and employment shifts due to requirements of the Act.”

Judge Bailey said, “Congress’ purpose in enacting the evaluations was to provide information which could lead the EPA or Congress to amend prior EPA actions.”  If the EPA rules are job killers, those who make the rules—as well as the public—should have that information so they can weigh it against the perceived benefits, and thanks to the judge’s decision they will.

See the article here.

Time for Court to Limit EPA’s power Over Electricity

Via The Great Falls Tribune:

Late last month, an appeals court in Washington, D.C., heard a case that will determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency has the power to require states to restructure the electric grid.

At issue is the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which would expand the power of the federal government immensely, cost thousands of jobs, and give the EPA a veto over decisions that have always been left to state legislatures and utility commissions.

A majority of states, including Montana, are challenging EPA’s regulation. The U.S. Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of it.

In the past, the EPA regulated emissions by identifying a control technology and requiring that device, or its equivalent, to be installed on a factory or power plant. The EPA Power Plan is a radical departure from this tradition.

The Clean Power Plan requires emissions rates at Montana’s coal plants to be cut by 47 percent. No commercially available technology can achieve that level of emissions at a coal plant, and certainly not by the EPA’s mandated time line for compliance. So how does the EPA assume it is possible?

The agency bases its requirement on the idea that if only other, brand new natural-gas or renewable power plants existed, then those coal plants would operate less of the time. The state would be expected to restructure its energy economy accordingly, and jeopardize the grid’s reliability while doing so.

 

EPA’s extension of federal control over local economies will have profound consequences for Montana as it faces the most severe requirement of any state in the nation. It will likely result in the loss of thousands of jobs associated with Colstrip, worth $360 million in personal income. The loss of tax revenue will leave county and state budgets in the lurch. It is an affront to the Crow Tribe and trade unions, many of whom depend on coal mining for revenue that sustains their livelihoods.

Montana will already face a significant economic impact when Colstrip Units 1 and 2 close, which their owners have agreed to do by 2022 in response to environmentalist litigation. But even the closure of those generators only accounts for half of what the EPA is requiring.

What’s more, the EPA has spelled out no clear limits to its new-found authority to adopt this kind of regulation. If electricity can be regulated in this way, what about transportation? Will the EPA one day discover it has the authority to specify an emissions limit on refiners based on what they would emit if only there were more hybrid vehicles or electric buses?

Additionally, in calculating Montana’s requirement, the EPA gives our state no credit for our hydroelectric facilities, including the facilities NorthWestern Energy bought only two years ago. If the rule stands, Montana consumers will get no credit for that clean energy, despite paying hundreds of millions of dollars for it.

It’s popular these days to say we should have a Montana-created energy policy. We completely agree. The EPA should not be allowed to commandeer it.

Steve Daines, a Republican from Bozeman, represents Montana in the U.S. Senate. Travis Kavulla, a Great Falls Republican, is vice chairman of the Montana Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities providing energy to consumers in Montana.

See the article here.

Judge Forces EPA To Count How Many Coal Miners It Forced Out Of Work

Via The Daily Caller:

A federal judge ruled the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must study how many coal industry workers have been laid off due to federal environmental regulations.

U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey gave EPA two weeks to come up with a way to measure job losses from air pollution regulations, including a special analysis of how these regulations impact the coal industry.

“In this case, the plaintiffs have alleged that the actions of the EPA have had a coercive effect on the power generating industry, essentially forcing them to discontinue the use of coal,” Bailey ruled.

“This Court finds these allegations sufficient to show that the injuries claimed by the plaintiffs are fairly traceable to the earlier actions of the EPA,” he wrote in his 64-page opinion.

It’s a big legal victory for the coal industry, which has been in decline for years due to Obama administration regulations, competition from cheap natural gas and a wave of environmentalist lawsuits.

“This is a great day for coal miners in the United States, and for all citizens who rely on low-cost electricity in America,” Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray said of the ruling.

“We will continue to vigorously pursue this lawsuit, and all of our litigation initiatives, in order to protect the lives and livelihoods of coal miners and their families, to defend the rule of law, and to preserve reliable and low-cost electricity in our country,” said Murray, whose company was a plaintiff in the suit.

The suit was brought by a group of coal companies that employ 7,200 miners, reports the Times West Virginian. The companies argued EPA was violating the Clean Air Act by not taking into account the employment effects on the coal industry.

EPA argued “any injury caused to the plaintiffs would only be traceable to earlier EPA actions, not the failure of the EPA to conduct evaluations of job loss,” the Times reported. Bailey disagreed and sided with the coal companies.

More than 12,000 coal miners have lost their jobs in the last year, according to federal employment data. Many in the industry have blamed the EPA for their misfortune, and coal country has largely thrown its support behind Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“Hillary Clinton wants to put all the miners out of business. There is a thing called clean coal,” Trump said during the second presidential debate.

EPA is reviewing the order, and may appeal the decision to a higher court, according to Politico. EPA has had some success getting lower court decisions overturned in the 4th Circuit.

 

See the article here.

 

Clean Coal is Part of our Energy Future

Via The Baltimore Sun:

A recent Sun editorial objected to the use of the term “clean coal” and argues for a future without coal (“About that clean coal business,” Oct. 11).

This argument makes a small point to ignore the larger truth that coal presently plays — and will continue to play — a dominant role in meeting energy needs around the world.

Whether you call coal-producing methods “clean” or not, the development of technologies that continue to make coal use more environmentally friendly benefits everyone.

Extraordinary progress has been made toward that end. Thanks to the use of a range of technologies — scrubbers, supercritical and ultra-supercritical combustion and coal gasification — the use of coal for electricity generation is cleaner than ever.

But work remains to tackle carbon emissions. Beyond what exists today, there are technologies under development that can capture carbon dioxide emissions from the use of fossil fuels. Given the right investment, development and policy support these technologies could be game-changers for the future.

Rather than debate terminology, a responsible path forward requires combined action from industry and government to further the use and development of advanced coal technologies that benefit the world.

See the article here.

Court Rules Against EPA in Case Over Coal Job Losses

Via The Hill:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not properly estimated the potential job losses in the coal and other industries affected by its regulations, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Judge John Preston Bailey of the District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia ruled in favor of coal mining company Murray Energy Corp. saying the Clean Air Act gives the EPA administrator a “non-discretionary duty” to track the potential job losses and shifts in employment from regulations written under the act.

 The decision is a largely symbolic win for energy sectors hurt by EPA regulations, however, because there is no guarantee that job loss analyses would change the policies at issue.

Bailey, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, used his ruling to repeatedly admonish the EPA for arguing that its duty to track job losses is “discretionary” and that its current reviews are sufficient.

“With specific statutory provisions like Section 321(a), Congress unmistakably intended to track and monitor the effects of the Clean Air Act and its implementing regulations on employment in order to improve the legislative and regulatory processes,” Bailey wrote.

“The most EPA does is ‘conduct proactive analysis of the employment effects of our rulemaking actions,’ which is simply not what S 321(a) is about,” he said, quoting the agency’s argument.

“EPA cannot redefine statutes to avoid complying with them. Nor can EPA render them superfluous or contrary to their original purpose by simply defining them to be,” Bailey concluded.

Murray and the coal industry cheered the ruling.

“This is a great day for coal miners in the United States, and for all citizens who rely on low-cost electricity in America,” Bob Murray, the company’s president and an outspoken opponent of President Obama, said in a statement.

“We will continue to vigorously pursue this lawsuit, and all of our litigation initiatives, in order to protect the lives and livelihoods of coal miners and their families, to defend the rule of law, and to preserve reliable and low cost electricity in our country.”

The National Mining Association called it a major rebuke of the EPA.

“America’s coal miners scored an important victory today when a federal court told EPA that it could no longer ignore its ongoing responsibility under the Clean Air Act to evaluate the job losses arising from its stream of regulatory actions,” Hal Quinn, the group’s president, said in a statement.

The legal provision at issue states that the EPA “shall conduct continuing evaluations of potential loss or shifts of employment which may result from the administration or enforcement of the provision of this chapter.”

It was enacted out of concern for industries like coal that could be hurt by environmental rules, with the expectation that lawmakers or regulators might use the data to inform their decisions. The court found that for at least 10 years after the 1977 law was passed, the EPA did conduct specific research to comply.

Job losses are usually part of the EPA’s normal rulemaking process. But Bailey found that to be insufficient.

Bailey ordered the EPA to prepare a timetable for the court in which it could write the job-loss predictions it should have completed under the law.

The litigation proceedings took about two and a half years.

Last year, Bailey granted Murray’s request to sit EPA head Gina McCarthy down for a sworn deposition as part of the lawsuit. But the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned the decision.

The EPA can appeal Bailey’s ruling to the federal 4th Circuit.

See the article here.

NMA Hails Court Decision in Murray Energy Corp. v. McCarthy

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Mining Association (NMA) hailed a federal court decision in Murray Energy Corp. v. McCarthy ordering the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to submit a plan for conducting the evaluations of job losses related to the agency’s regulations. NMA filed a brief with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supporting Murray Energy’s claims that section 321 of the Clean Air Act imposed an ongoing duty on EPA to conduct evaluations of the employment consequences of its regulatory actions.

“America’s coal miners scored an important victory today when a federal court told EPA that it could no longer ignore its ongoing responsibility under the Clean Air Act to evaluate the job losses arising from its stream of regulatory actions,” said NMA president and CEO Hal Quinn. “The court properly rebuked EPA for representing that it sufficed for the agency to merely predict impacts but it was under no duty to later verify the actual outcomes. Murray Energy Corporation has performed a great service not only for coal miners but all American workers whose jobs are imperiled by unbalanced regulations imposing great costs with little if any measurable benefit.”

See the press release here.

Letter: EPA is Hindering Cleaner Coal

Via The Courier & Press:

The editorial titled No Such Thing as Clean Coal (Oct. 13) paints a doomsday outlook for coal as an energy source and for human health.

However, technology has significantly reduced emissions from coal-fired power plants – up to 90 percent in the past few decades. Other technologies can further reductions – if they were allowed to be implemented.

Unfortunately, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan sets carbon-dioxide reduction levels for new power plants at unattainable levels. These regulations will have little if any effect on global temperatures or sea levels because developing nations continue to use vast amounts of coal.

Yet these regulations – if federal court fails to step in – will cease further development of coal technologies. Meaning there will be no new coal-fueled power plants built in the United States, and advancements in cleaner-coal technologies will become part of the past, not our future.

The editorial is also off base when it comes to recovery and low cost natural gas as the reason for the significant decrease in coal production. While that is true for select parts of the country, including the Baltimore area where this editorial first appeared, states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia sit atop huge natural-gas reserves that have recently become productive due to hydraulic fracturing.

But what may be good for Baltimore is not so good for Evansville. Indiana doesn’t have the same shale units that exist in select other states, and the shale units we do have don’t produce high natural gas output.

Indiana produces very little in the way of natural gas, and the phrase “cheap natural gas” is the real oxymoron for Indiana. Natural gas costs 57 percent more today than it did six months ago. Utilities are announcing that ratepayers should expect higher bills this winter due to increased natural gas costs. This should give us all a reality check on the historic volatility of natural gas.

Yet coal remains at a steady price, and provides about 80 percent of Indiana’s electric generation because it’s affordable, reliable, and abundant – and right within our own borders.

Switching to out-of-state natural gas will increase electric bills, eliminate Hoosier jobs, reduce contributions to the Hoosier tax base, and send our hard-earned money to those states with large natural gas reserves.

The EPA prefers we sacrifice our own communities to lead the rest of the world in carbon-dioxide reduction. A better approach would be to put faith in scientists and engineers at our leading institutions, and continue to develop cleaner, emission-reducing technologies that benefit our nation and our Hoosier communities – rather than pinning our hopes on leaders halfway around the globe.

Bruce Stevens is President of the Indiana Coal Council.

See the article here.

First Shots Fired Over EPA’s New Plant Rule

Via Politico:

CHALLENGERS OPEN FIRE ON EPA NEW PLANT CARBON RULE: The states and companies challenging EPA’s 111(b) regulation opened fire last night on the rule, which sets carbon dioxide limits for new coal and gas power plants. The new plant rule was finalized in August 2015 at the same time as the Clean Power Plan, the companion rule covering existing plants. But the CPP legal challenge was put on a fast track (high-profile oral arguments were held last month) while this case is taking a more typical route through the courts. The Clean Air Act’s wording means that if the 111(b) rule is struck down, the Clean Power Plan is out as well.
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Two dozen state challengers charged EPA with having an “agenda to eliminate coal-fired power plants … by virtue of an impossibly high technology standard.” The limit for new coal plants requires using technologies that are not all used together at any commercial plant in the world, they argue. “Much like the griffin, which combines parts of the bodies of different animals into one mythical creature, EPA’s BSER does not exist in the integrated form mandated by the agency anywhere in the world, and the closest analogues are either small-scale plants or plants that receive significant government funding.” In their own brief, the non-state challengers — including coal producer Murray Energy, a swath of utility and co-op groups and the United Mine Workers of America — reiterate those arguments.

Meanwhile, North Dakota wrote separately from the other state challengers so it could specifically attack the rule’s treatment of lignite, the lowest-energy class of coal that is “invariably” burned at power plants adjacent to the mines because lignite’s lower energy density means higher transportation costs. North Dakota is uniquely reliant on lignite, which supplies 99.4 percent of its fossil fuel electricity. EPA’s limit of 1,400 lbs CO2/MWh can’t be met by new lignite power plants, the state argues. “That makes the Rule invalid, because this Court has held that performance standards must meet those requirements as applied to the entire source category — here, coal-fueled EGUs, including lignite-fueled units.”

See the article here.

A Costly Power Plan Has Its Day in Court

Via Morning Consult:

Last month, a federal appeals court heard arguments regarding President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. At issue is whether the CPP represents a lawful effort to rein in carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power sector. While the Environmental Protection Agency has proudly touted this plan to tackle “carbon pollution,” a closer look reveals draconian impacts that could profoundly affect the U.S. economy.

For starters, the CPP carries a stunning price tag. Among other things, the CPP will shutter 40 percent of America’s current clean-coal fleet, and will necessitate massive new power sector construction. With characteristic nonchalance, however, the EPA has simply ignored the projected $64 billion cost of new generating facilities and transmission infrastructure for roughly 24 million homes. But these costs will be passed along to consumers — along with a $214 billion hike in wholesale electricity prices prompted by the loss of affordable, coal-fired power generation. Overall, this means that average annual household electricity bills could rise 33 percent by 2020, from 2012 levels.

Does the EPA have the necessary authority to undertake such a massive undertaking? That’s what the court must now decide. But 28 states are betting it doesn’t, and have argued that Congress never authorized the EPA in the Clean Air Act to dictate compulsory changes to each state’s energy grid. The EPA disagrees, and now appears hell bent on turning 45 years of legal precedent on its head, insisting it can set standards not just for individual power plants but for an entire state’s power supply.

State sovereignty matters significantly here, since the EPA ignores traditional state authority to manage individual energy economies. Already governors are bristling at the prospect of losing control over their electricity costs — now projected to reach double digit increases in 40 states. In fact, if the CPP is upheld in court, 16 states will likely see wholesale power prices jump by at least 25 percent.

These added costs help to explain why a concerned U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of the CPP last winter — citing the threat of immediate and irreparable economic harm. It was the first time the high court blocked an EPA regulation before its review by a lower court.

Low-income families may particularly bear the brunt of such costs. They have less income for non-discretionary spending. (This includes a lot of Americans; half of all U.S. households now spend almost 20 percent of their disposable income on energy.) Jobs will also be impacted as higher energy prices cycle through the manufacturing economy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates lost jobs from the CPP will hit 224,000 annually, from implementation through 2030.

Is all this pain worth the effort? EPA blithely touts the importance of cutting carbon dioxide emissions. But the CPP offers only meager environmental benefits. A fully implemented CPP is projected to lower atmospheric CO2 concentrations by less than one percent, and reduce global temperatures by a theoretical 0.018 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.

This is not a trade-off Americans want. EPA projects the CPP will force the retirement of 56 coal-fired power plants. But a Sept. 19 poll conducted by Morning Consult found that voters’ single biggest concern with energy is “cost,” and for that reason, respondents voiced a strong preference for keeping coal in the U.S. energy mix.

It’s a logical decision. America’s current, diverse energy mix features competition among a variety of fuels, and prevents the price of any one fuel from skyrocketing—a diversity that currently saves consumers an estimated $93 billion annually. That savings could soon be lost.

The EPA has never previously shown any aptitude for running America’s massive power grid. Yet now it envisions a staggering transformation of the nation’s power sector, and on a tight timetable. The global warming debate has its place, but such unrealistic experimentation with America’s complex power sector is not the place to start. Let’s hope the federal judges who have heard the case will agree.

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

See the article here.

Clean Power Plan Puts States’ Rights on Trial

Via Newsmax:

A pending District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruling will determine within the next several months whether the Obama administration’s latest and arguably most dangerous federal government usurpation of state regulatory authority under the Constitution will succeed. On Sept. 27, ten judges heard oral arguments in a consolidated case known as West Virginia, et.al. v. EPA which challenges the agency’s power to require states to restructure their energy mixes and to reorganize their energy economies across electric plants, energy-intensive industries, and even households.

The D.C. court proceedings follow a stayed implementation of the EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) by the U.S. Supreme Court last February. This rare rebuke responded to lawsuits filed by 28 states arguing that CPP exceeds the federal government’s constitutionally limited and enumerated powers which leave broader plenary “police powers” to them.

Congress had previously turned down Obama’s request to pass supporting CPP legislation.

Federal agencies work to get around such limitations through legal schemes described as “cooperative federalism.” This approach offers states the choices either to regulate their own agencies and citizens according to laws passed by Congress, or to step aside and have the feds take over and regulate directly.

With CPP, EPA parcels out specific state-by-state emission reduction targets they consider achievable based upon their own internal estimates of the maximum amount of energy shifting the nation’s power grids can accommodate. States are mandated either to prepare plans regarding how they will meet these targets or have EPA do this for them.

The CPP power grab greatly extends EPA’s regulatory reach, obliterating the last vestige of vertical separation of state and federal powers altogether. Whereas previous climate alarm-premised greenhouse gas regulations have focused upon reductions for particular facilities, CPP essentially forces shifts from EPA-disfavored facilities (coal-fired plants) to expansion of those EPA prefers (natural gas/renewables).

Even the EPA admits that such mandates will have no detectable impact on climate whatsoever. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) estimates that all of this unnecessary regulatory pain asserted under authority of the 1970 Clean Air Act which Congress never intended for “climate pollution” will reduce temperatures only about 0.0015 of one degree by the year 2100.

Nevertheless, CPP will cause states, taxpayers and energy consumers to get stiffed with huge cost burdens, including capital-intensive, decades-long transitions needed for adding expensive and unreliable wind and solar infrastructures, coal plant retirements and upgrades, restructured transmission lines, and new natural gas pipelines. EPA silently passes these costs along with “responsibility to maintain a reliable electric system” to the states.

According to William Schughart II and his Utah State University colleague Michael Jensen, CPP implementation will shutter enough coal-fired plants to otherwise supply electricity to 2.5 million homes. The Heritage Foundation estimates that the new rule will cost about 500,000 lost jobs, close to $100 billion annually in lost GDP output, and more than $1,000 per year in higher household energy expenditures.

NERA Economic Consulting estimates that the plan will cost $366 billion through 2031 and bring double-digit electricity rate increases to 43 states.

Compliance for states transferring energy dependencies to far more costly and less reliable wind and solar sources will bankrupt industries and businesses, imposing disproportionate stresses upon the poorest households. Prices of everything manufactured, grown, eaten, or needed to keep lights on and buildings air conditioned will be adversely impacted. These burdens will weigh heaviest upon residents of states that depend upon coal and natural gas for most of their power.

As appellate and constitutional attorneys David Rivkin, Jr. and Andrew Grossman observe in a Sept. 26 Wall Street Journal opinion piece, 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 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.”

Even the Supreme Court is belatedly showing signs of impatience with EPA abuses of statutory powers. Slapping down a 2012 rule to reduce mercury and other emissions targeted on killing the coal industry, they observed that “When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute unheralded power to regulate a significant portion of the economy, we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism.”

As West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey states, “We believe in this final [CPP] rule, the EPA is trying to convert itself from an environmental regulator to a central planning authority of states’ energy economies.” Expect more of the same so long as Senate Democrats continue to pack the Supreme Court, D.C. Appeals Court and others with revisionists who will determine whether the U.S. Constitution still matters.

See the article here.

SAD TESTIMONY: I’m A Coal Miner, And The EPA Killed My Job

Via The Daily Caller:

A little more than a year ago, Bo Copley lost his job working as a maintenance planner for a West Virginia coal company.

The reason: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, he told federal lawmakers.

“Just slightly over 1 year ago, I was notified that my services were no longer required, due to a reduction in force,” Copley told senators at a Wednesday field hearing in West Virginia.

“Although we were told that we shouldn’t have to reduce our workforce before the beginning of 2016, we should have known that we wouldn’t make it that long without one,” he said. “Our company was the only one in Arch that had not experienced such a reduction.”

“Every Monday during our weekly safety meetings, we were told how increasingly difficult it was becoming to acquire mining permits due to EPA regulations,” he said. “Weekly, we were told how fortunate we were to not have our pay cut, and how fortunate we were to be working, in general.”

Copley’s fortunes ran out about a year ago when he was let go, but he wasn’t alone. More than 12,000 coal miners have been let go in the last year, according to federal employment statistics.

In fact, tens of thousands more of power plant, mine and support workers have lost their jobs in the last eight years as the coal industry contracts. Those who have been let go put the blame squarely on EPA.

“From large companies like Walker Machinery to smaller, locally owned companies like Guyan Heavy Equipment, every vendor that is related to our industry has taken their share of loss due to this administration’s EPA overreach,” Copley said in the hearing.

“For every coal mining job lost there are countless more that are also affected,” he added. “Heavy equipment vendors face the hardship of trying keep people working versus making a profit.”

“School administrators face decreased funding because their enrollments have dropped due to people moving to find work,” he said. “Many small business owners, just like my wife, see a decline in their business because people don’t have the extra money to pay for things outside their basic needs. Our entire state feels the ramifications of a targeted industry.”

Copley was one of several witnesses to testify at a field hearing convened by West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito to highlight the costs of EPA regulations on her state’s economy.

Costlier EPA regulations, coupled with increased competition from cheap natural gas, has forced hundreds of coal-fired power plants to prematurely retire. The coal industry sees the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP) as the biggest threat to its future.

The CPP requires states to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, and mandates new power plants use expensive, largely unproven emissions control technology to operate.

EPA says the CPP is necessary for the U.S. to show “leadership” on tackling global warming, but Appalachian lawmakers and businesses say its strangling their coal-reliant economy.

Environmentalists have done their part to damage the coal industry as well — the Sierra Club, for example, has claimed credit for helping shutter 200 coal-fired power plants.

The CPP’s future is currently being decided by federal judges who recently heard oral arguments from EPA officials and a coalition of 27 states suing to have the rule struck down.

No matter the outcome, both sides are likely to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

 

See the article here.

 

Guest Opinion: Court Should Limit EPA’s Power

Via The Billings Gazette:

Last week, an appeals court in Washington, D.C., heard a case that will determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency has the power to require states to restructure the electric grid.

At issue is the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which would expand the power of the federal government immensely, cost thousands of jobs, and give the EPA a veto over decisions that have always been left to state legislatures and utility commissions.

A majority of states, including Montana, are challenging EPA’s regulation. The Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of it.

In the past, the EPA regulated emissions by identifying a control technology and requiring that device, or its equivalent, to be installed on a factory or power plant. The EPA Power Plan is a radical departure from this tradition.

The Clean Power Plan requires emissions rates at Montana’s coal plants to be cut by 47 percent. No commercially available technology can achieve that level of emissions at a coal plant, and certainly not by the EPA’s mandated timeline for compliance. So how does the EPA assume it is possible? The agency bases its requirement on the idea that if only other, brand new natural-gas or renewable power plants existed, then those coal plants would operate less of the time. The state would be expected to restructure its energy economy accordingly, and jeopardize the grid’s reliability while doing so.

EPA’s extension of federal control over local economies will have profound consequences for Montana as it faces the most severe requirement of any state in the nation. It will likely result in the loss of thousands of jobs associated with Colstrip, worth $360 million in personal income. The loss of tax revenue will leave county and state budgets in the lurch. It is an affront to the Crow Tribe and trades unions, many of whom depend on coal mining for revenue that sustains their livelihoods.

Montana will already face a significant economic impact when Colstrip Units 1 and 2 close, which their owners have agreed to do by 2022 in response to environmentalist litigation. But even the closure of those generators only accounts for half of what the EPA is requiring.

What’s more, the EPA has spelled out no clear limits to its newfound authority to adopt this kind of regulation. If electricity can be regulated in this way, what about transportation? Will the EPA one day discover it has the authority to specify an emissions limit on refiners based on what they would emit if only there were more hybrid vehicles or electric buses?

Additionally, in calculating Montana’s requirement, the EPA gives our state no credit for our hydroelectric facilities, including the facilities NorthWestern Energy bought only two years ago. If the rule stands, Montana consumers will get no credit for that clean energy, despite paying hundreds of millions of dollars for it.

It’s popular these days to say we should have a Montana-created energy policy. We completely agree. The EPA should not be allowed to commandeer it.

See the article here.

Fate of Clean Power Plan Likely Rests with Supreme Court

Via Electric Light & Power:

A panel of legal experts told a Bipartisan Policy Center forum Oct. 4 in Washington, D.C., that whatever happens with the D.C. Circuit they expect the legal dispute over the Environmental Protection Agency Clean Power Plan will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The legal experts, split evenly between supporters and opponents of the EPA carbon dioxide control rule, also expect the question of whether the Clean Power Plan requires shifting sources of generation to accomplish climate goals will weigh heavily in the D.C. Circuit’s decision.

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard about seven hours of legal arguments Sept. 27.

Legal experts rehashed the arguments in a Bipartisan Policy Center forum moderated by Wall Street Journal reporter Amy Harder. Harder kicked off the discussion by noting that the case was heard by six appeals court judges appointed by Democrats and four appointed by Republican presidential administrations.

The legal experts on the panel included: Christophe Courchesne, Chief, Environmental Protection Division, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office; David Doniger, Director, Climate & Clean Air Program, Natural Resources Defense Council; Jeffrey Holmstead, Partner, Bracewell & & Giuliani; Allison D. Wood, Partner, Hunton & Williams.

The legal panel split evenly on whether the D.C. Circuit will issue its legal decision prior to the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.

Harder said the oral arguments made before the D.C. Circuit on Sept. 27 seemed to break down into a few major categories. They include: Did EPA go beyond its jurisdiction and dictate “generation shifting”; 2) Does EPA really have authority to regulate CO2 under Section 111 D of the Clean Air Act; Does the CPP infringe upon states’ rights to regulate power generation; and, was there too much change between original and final versions of the CPP put forth by EPA.

Holmstead said that if the D.C. Circuit wanted to ‘punt’ the issue, it could rule that the final version was radically changed from the first version in June 2014 and a new round of notice-and-public comment is needed.

“Whatever happens at the D.C. Circuit … it will not be the final word,” Wood said. She fully expects that the losing side before the D.C. Circuit will successfully seek high court review.

Both Holmstead and Wood represent energy clients that would like to see the CPP overturned.

Doniger of NRDC cautioned that the makeup of Supreme Court in 2017 will be different than what it was in February of this year when it stayed implementation of the Clean Power Plan. As a result, it is not a “given” that the justices will agree to hear the case – although they probably will, he added.

The legal panel assembled by BPC agreed that the question of how much “deference” that the courts should show EPA in interpreting the key areas of the Clean Air Act will play a huge role in the decision.

Doniger, who supports the CPP, said he found it difficult to see opponents getting six votes out of the 10-judge panel to overturn the rule. The NRDC attorney did note that the judges asked very tough questions on both sides.

There was no one among the lawyers and the judges “to be that voice of climate denial,” Doniger said.

Courchesne, of Massachusetts, said the appeals court judges seemed to understand the “real world of energy.” Massachusetts supports the CPP and Courchesne hopes the D.C. Circuit will view the rule as a natural extension of what many states are already doing to reduce reliance on carbon-based generation.

Is EPA forcing coal burners to ‘subsidize’ other generation?

The judges seemed to be struggling with the scope of the EPA rulemaking and whether it is “transformational,” Holmstead said.

EPA has never before ordered plant owner to “subsidize another plant that has nothing to do with your plant.” EPA seems to be saying: “We have the authority to remake the grid,” Holmstead said.

It’s going a lot farther than merely requiring coal plants to install SO2 scrubbers on coal plants, Holmstead said.

“One can play the subsidy argument in both directions,” Doniger said. EPA has the authority to regulate carbon and when this happens it will inevitably make some sources of generation more attractive than others, added the NRDC official.

The Clean Power Plan is different from other rules “in that the generation shifting is baked into the rule itself,” Wood said. She noted that the SO2 trading program was initiated by Congress in the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990.

Congress has taken no equivalent action to establish a CO2 trading system and it will be virtually impossible for many states to comply with the CPP without some form of interstate trading.

Wood noted that Montana doesn’t have any gas plants so increasing efficiency of natural gas won’t really help them. Montana must either shut its plants down to meet it or work with other states.

Wood added that states like California, which might have CO2 emission allowances to trade, don’t typically want to engage in such trading that might benefit carbon-emitters.

Doniger countered that states like Montana and the Dakotas have a growing wind power sector. The NRDC attorney also said that Justice Department lawyers tried to assure the D.C. Circuit that EPA would provide states with administrative hearings to address various workability problems that might emerge.

But Holmstead said it is important to note that the 20-some states against the CPP account for vast majority of CO2 emission reductions required in the rule. The 18-states that are explicitly supporting it account for a small slice of reductions being required, Holmstead said.

“I think the judges understand this [case] is a big deal,” Holmstead said.

The hearing by the full court was the first time judges fielded arguments on the merits of the rule.

See the article here.

Capito Highlights Local Impact of Anti-Coal Regulations

Via The Williamson Daily News:

LOGAN, W.Va. – Today, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee’s Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, chaired a field hearing in Southern West Virginia focused on the local impacts of EPA’s climate regulations. Senator Capito released this statement following the hearing at the Chief Logan Conference Center in Logan:

“The litany of anti-coal regulations put forward by this administration doesn’t just impact coal companies. It impacts every vendor in the supply chain, every coal miner and their family, and every community where fewer incomes mean fewer sales and less revenue,” said Senator Capito.

“Coal jobs are good jobs, but these jobs have been under attack, and bankruptcies in the coal industry have jeopardized promised heath care benefits to retired miners. Today’s hearing provided a platform for those most directly affected by the administration’s harmful regulations to have their voices heard. The EPA never came to West Virginia when it crafted these regulations. Today’s hearing accomplishes what the EPA was never willing to.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) participated in the hearing, along with West Virginians who have directly felt the impacts of EPA’s regulations. Witnesses included Eugene M. Trisko, Counsel to United Mine Workers of America; coal miner Jimmy Dale “Bo” Copley II; Wayne County Commission President Robert E. Pasley; Karan Ireland, West Virginia Solar United Neighborhoods Program Director; and West Virginia University law professor James M. Van Nostrand.

See the article here.

Coal Country Gets a Chance to Testify About the Impact of Climate Policies

Via West Virgina MetroNews:

A favored tactic of radical environmentalists is to characterize anyone who questions their orthodoxy as “climate change deniers,” suggesting that those who dare to raise concerns about the impact of draconian climate policies are all part of some flat earth society.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, a favorite of the environmental left who has enough gravitas to be invited to the United Nations and the White House to talk climate change, even suggested this week that people who don’t believe in climate change “should not be allowed to hold public office.”

Perhaps someone should turn DiCaprio’s logic on him; does someone who generates a massive carbon footprint with private jets and enormous yachts have the moral standing to carry the torch for climate change?

James Hansen, the former NASA climate scientist and favorite of the climate doomsday congregation, says fixing the weather should not be relegated to the people’s representatives. He now advocates massive litigation where the courts will force the fossil fuel industry to contribute toward the “100s of trillions of dollars” he expects it will cost to slow the rising of global temperatures.

The problem, however, is that the hard charge by the alleged preventers of climate catastrophe ignore all those who get trampled in the process.

Today, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee’s Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, will hold a field hearing in Logan on the impact of the EPA’s climate policies.

Among those testifying will be Bo Copley. He’s the laid-off coal miner from Delbarton who famously confronted Hillary Clinton during a campaign stop in Mingo County about her comments about putting coal miners and coal companies out of business.

Wayne County Commissioner Robert Pasley will also testify about the challenges of paying for public education and basic services when tax collections fall because of the decline of coal.

United Mine Workers of America attorney Eugene Trisko is expected to tell committee members how their research shows the EPA’s Clean Power Plan will mean billions of dollars in lost economic output for West Virginia.

Today the committee will hear about people more than policy.  It’s an attempt to demonstrate the impact of these EPA policies on real human beings, West Virginia residents.  These folks cannot get an invitation to the White House or command the attention of the international press with their pronouncements, but they are realstories.

Acting Assistant EPA Administrator Janet McCabe said earlier this year that the agency did not want to come here to discuss the President’s climate policies because, “When we were scheduling national level meetings, we wanted to have those in locations where people were comfortable coming.”

If comfort is a prerequisite, then the EPA made the right call.  If anything, today’s hearing will be very uncomfortable, but the truth often is.

See the article here.

Missouri Should Brace for Potential Rise in Power Costs with Implementation of Stream Protection Rule

Via The Kansas City Star:

We sometimes forget that Missouri has been a coal-producing state for decades.

Although not a major producer such as Wyoming or West Virginia, our state has mined coal along with lead, zinc, copper and silver for more than a century. This mining has not only employed thousands in family-supporting, middle-class jobs but has underpinned some of key industrial sectors.

In one area, however, coal is still of pre-eminent importance to Missouri — power generation. Thanks to the modern technology that scrubs emissions from coal-fired power plants, Missouri relied on coal for 78 percent of its electricity generation in 2015 — ranking us No. 4 nationally in coal use.

There are real benefits to using coal, particularly when it comes to reliable and affordable power generation for our cities, schools and water infrastructure. Coal still generates more than one-third of U.S. electricity — more than any other single power source.

Unfortunately, Missouri’s enjoyment of low-cost electricity faces a real challenge because the Obama administration is preparing to implement a Stream Protection Rule aimed at keeping coal in the ground.

You wouldn’t know it from the name, but the new Stream Protection Rule could spell the end for much of the U.S. coal industry. It extends far beyond streams and instead deals more with enhancing a federal agency’s mission than addressing environmental issues.

The federal government’s own reports have already demonstrated that, after decades of careful and improved oversight, virtually all U.S. mining operations now carry no off-site environmental impacts.

The U.S. Office of Surface Mining is preparing to foist the Stream Protection Rule on coal producers, even though the agency spent six years dodging its legal obligation to consult with state mining agencies before proposing such a massive rule. In fact, coal states were left in the dark as the Office of Surface Mining assumed new authority to set mining standards. Such a bullheaded approach is part of the reason that 17 coal-producing states are now formally protesting the rule. It matters to Missouri because the Stream Protection Rule is certain to drive up the cost of mining.

The annual value of lost coal production from the Stream Protection Rule could reach $29 billion, with federal and state tax revenue falling by as much as $6.4 billion annually. Displacing affordable coal power with higher-cost alternatives will mean heavier price burdens on everyone.

Missouri has already learned how to modernize its coal plants and to ensure that they produce affordable power without the waste emissions that once gave coal a bad name. But driving up the cost of coal by eliminating much of America’s coal production will hit our state hard.

Overall, the Stream Protection Rule is an unnecessary overreach by the federal government, and one that will not only close down many of America’s coal producers but needlessly drive up electricity prices.

Our elected officials need to say “no” to such a heavy-handed effort that will hurt many working families.

Terry Jarrett served on the Missouri Public Service Commission from 2007-2013. He is currently an attorney with Healy Law Offices. He lives and works in Jefferson City.

See the article here.

Why Does Obama Want to End Coal Use?

Via The Journal:

After reading that Governor Tomblin is investing $1 million to provide green jobs for former coal miners, I wonder how may workers would just prefer to keep mining coal to feed their families.

Thanks largely to over regulation, coal is not allowed to compete in a fair and open marketplace with other energy sources; so naturally it will often lose out.

Why does President Obama want to end America’s use of coal? Coal is your country’s least expensive and most plentiful energy source to generate electricity.

Families in West Virginia will see their electric bills go up if coal is banned because West Virginia gets 95 percent of its power from coal.

Opponents of coal say that using coal causes global warming. But there has been no statistically significant temperature rise globally in 19 years, despite a 10 percent rise in carbon dioxide levels in this period.

To make matters worse, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) will have no measurable impact on global climate. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted this at Congressional hearings. She repeatedly asserted that the primary purpose of the regulation is to set an example for the world to follow. But developing countries have already indicated they will not follow.

It is worrisome for us here in Canada when our primary defender is bent on crippling itself in this way.

See the article here.