Monthly Archives: November 2016

Coal Related News from Around the Nation

Let the Coal Industry Compete

To the Editor:

The Coal Industry Isn’t Coming Back,” by Michael E. Webber (Op-Ed, Nov. 16), suggests that the decline in coal has been due to “cheap natural gas, cheap renewables” and “regulations that got their start in the George W. Bush administration,” and that the coal industry is waiting to be saved.

King University recently found that natural gas accounted for the loss of only 20 million tons in coal demand before 2013. On the other hand, 105 million tons in lower yearly coal production resulted from Environmental Protection Agency regulations that took hold after 2012.

Looking ahead, the government’s Clean Power Plan would double the number of coal plants closed. And the pending stream-protection rule would make one-half or more of total coal reserves off limits to mining. Without those rules, coal production would increase and stabilize, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Far from looking for a savior, the coal industry simply wants to compete on a level playing field with natural gas and what Mr. Webber calls cheap renewables — cheap, thanks largely to big government subsidies. Scaling back disruptive and damaging regulations will do much to accomplish this.

HAL QUINN

President and Chief Executive

National Mining Association

See the article here.

A Fair Chance to Make Coal Cleaner

Via Kokomo Tribune:

As the recent election cycle demonstrated, American politics is beset with a number of polarizing issues. Among the most obvious has been the debate over coal. Where Hillary Clinton favored renewable energy at the expense of the coal industry, Donald Trump has promised to launch a coal renaissance. This “either/or” schism overlooks a larger point, though, since technological advances could eventually lead to coal — and the tens of thousands of jobs it supports — playing a key role in the clean energy transformation of the 21st century.

Before this is even possible, however, government policy must find a middle course that balances costs with reasonable goals. Roughly 200 U.S. coal plants have closed in recent years, due in part to burdensome regulations that failed to adequately assess job losses. Ironically, President Obama may have offered a helpful solution back in 2008 when he first suggested: “If technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it. That I think is the right approach.”

 Regrettably, the president never followed through on the possibility of making coal cleaner. And that’s unfortunate since advanced technologies have made extraordinary progress in recent years, leading to coal emissions that are now 90 percent cleaner than 30 years ago. And thanks to pilot programs in Mississippi, Texas and Saskatchewan, this same scientific prowess is also beginning to allow for the capture of coal’s carbon dioxide emissions. Given the right investment, such technology could become a game-changer. In fact, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has suggested that meeting climate targets for this century could actually be impossible without successful carbon capture development.

It’s noteworthy that America has long benefited from a diverse mix of power sources, and electricity generation anchored by coal currently saves consumers roughly $90 billion annually, according to IHS Energy Consulting. Imagine, then, if the United States could move forward with the affordable, abundant power that coal provides — and without the carbon emissions that have hung a question mark over the future of the world economy.

 Instead of consigning coal to the scrap heap — and triggering mass unemployment that would necessitate tens of billions of dollars in federal aid to coal country residents — Washington should focus on efforts to make coal more environmentally friendly. Such a responsible path forward would require combined action from both industry and government. But the development of such advanced technologies could establish America as a global leader while also benefiting a developing world already banking heavily on coal.

It’s clear that America will need abundant power generation in the years to come. And since the United States possesses the world’s largest reserves of coal, it makes sense to incorporate coal as part of a diverse energy mix that also includes natural gas, renewables and nuclear power. Americans want energy solutions that continue to use and explore advanced technologies.

The effort to make coal cleaner should be part of an “all of the above” strategy for clean energy in the 21st century. The world’s growing need for energy, and America’s own reliance on a diverse energy supply, argue strongly for such a path forward.

See the article here.

A Trump Administration Could Bring Real Relief to America’s Coal Communities

Via The Roanoke Times:

Donald Trump praised America’s coal workers throughout the recent presidential campaign. And he vowed to get the coal industry back on its feet. Now that a Trump Administration is poised to take office on Jan. 20, it’s realistic to believe that relief could be on the way for decimated coal communities.

You wouldn’t know this from the mainstream media, however. Too often, pundits belittle the impact that Obama administration regulations have had on coal. We’re told that it isn’t federal rules stifling coal production; instead, it’s only market competition that has been responsible for coal’s decline.

This is the administration’s line, and it 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. Before the Obama administration took action, 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 that the CPP proposed by President Obama could shut down another 56 coal plants nationwide. Without this one rule, EIA says coal output would stabilize, not vanish.

A recent study from the King University business school confirmed this view, showing that natural gas had only a modest effect on coal production and that EPA regulations 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.

Overall, EPA climate regulations under President Obama contributed to the loss of 68,000 jobs in coal communities. The result has been so severe that the President eventually proposed a $3 billion aid package to repair the damage.

In short, coal’s distress has not primarily been 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 was the result of “market conditions.” They were government decisions.

Lifting this regulatory burden from coal fields can also lift the industry up, sparing thousands of jobs throughout the supply chain and even bringing back some jobs lost over the past few years.

There are other valid reasons for President-elect Trump to support coal. Electricity generation anchored by coal currently saves U.S. consumers roughly $90 billion annually, says IHS Energy Consulting, thanks to a more diverse and affordable energy supply.

A robust coal industry will become a cleaner industry, too. Already, advanced technologies have made coal emissions 90 percent cleaner than 30 years ago. And thanks to pilot programs in Mississippi, Texas, and Saskatchewan, this same scientific prowess is also beginning to allow for the capture of coal’s carbon dioxide emissions. The development of even smarter coal technologies could help to establish America as a global leader while also benefiting a developing world already banking heavily on coal.

It’s clear that America will need abundant power generation in the years to come. And since the United States possesses the world’s largest reserves of coal, it makes sense for the Trump Administration to incorporate coal as part of a diverse energy mix that also includes natural gas, renewables and nuclear power.

Instead of directing his regulators to keep coal in the ground and its employees in the jobless lines, a Trump administration can encourage the nation’s engineers to make coal cleaner and keep coal miners employed.

See the article here.

The EPA Shows Again That It’s an Affront to Common Sense

Via The National Review:

For decades, in administrations Democratic and Republican alike, the Environmental Protection Agency has been a paragon of waste, fraud, and abuse, a corrupt taxpayer-funded Evil Empire. “Science” there is just a tool to be manipulated in order to advance radical anti-technology and anti-industry agendas, even if it means distorting the intent of statutes and affronting common sense.

The EPA is the prototype of agencies that, driven largely by politics, spend more and more to address smaller and smaller risks. In one analysis by the Office of Management and Budget, of the 30 least cost-effective regulations throughout the government, the EPA had imposed no fewer than 17. For example, the agency’s restrictions on the disposal of land that contains certain wastes prevent 0.59 cancer cases per year — about three cases every five years — and avoid $20 million in property damage, at an annual cost of $194 to $219 million.

In his excellent book Breaking the Vicious Circle, written shortly before he was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Stephen Breyer cited another, similar example of expensive, non-cost-effective regulation by the EPA: a ban on asbestos pipe, shingles, coating, and paper, which the most optimistic estimates suggested would prevent seven or eight premature deaths over 13 years — at a cost of approximately a quarter of a billion dollars. Breyer, appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton, observed that such a vast expenditure would cause more deaths than it would prevent from the asbestos exposure, simply by reducing the resources available for other public amenities.

Also, perversely, the very act of removing asbestos from existing structures poses greater risk from asbestos than does simply leaving it where it is: During removal, long-dormant asbestos fibers are spread into the ambient air, where they expose workers and bystanders to heightened risk. When the EPA banned asbestos in 1989, it was already an old product whose risks and benefits were well understood. Nevertheless, political pressures from environmental activists pushed the EPA into making a decision that actually raised public-health risks.

Breyer also addressed the EPA’s counterproductive efforts to eliminate the “last 10 percent” of risk from a substance or activity, noting that it involves “high cost, devotion of considerable agency resources, large legal fees, and endless argument,” with only limited, incremental benefit. Such overly stringent rules are also more likely to be challenged in court and overturned on judicial review. Breyer quotes an EPA official as observing that “about 95 percent of the toxic material could be removed from [Superfund] waste sites in a few months, but years are spent trying to remove the last little bit.”

Another example of flawed decision-making at the EPA was the imposition of overly stringent ambient-air standards under the Clean Air Act. Clean air is desirable, of course, but an ill-conceived EPA rule finalized in February 2012 created new emissions standards for coal- and oil-fired electric utilities. According to an analysis by Diane Katz and James Gattuso of the Heritage Foundation:

The benefits are highly questionable, with the vast majority being unrelated to the emissions targeted by the regulation. The costs, however, are certain: an estimated $9.6 billion annually. The regulations will produce a significant loss of electricity generating capacity, which [will] undermine energy reliability and raise energy costs across the entire economy.

One of the costliest EPA policy boondoggles is a program known as “Superfund” (officially the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act), which is intended to clean up and reduce the risk of toxic-waste sites. It was originally conceived as a short-term project — $1.6 billion over five years to clean up some 400 sites (by law, at least one per state and, not coincidentally, about one per congressional district). But it has grown into one of the nation’s largest public-works projects: more than $30 billion spent on about 1,300 sites.

How could cleaning up toxic-waste sites not be a good thing? Well, various studies have attempted to evaluate the effects of Superfund’s massive and costly cleanups, but the results are equivocal. Put another way: After the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars, no beneficial results have been demonstrated.

On the other hand, Superfund projects have caused a great deal of harm. University of California economics professor J. Paul Leigh has analyzed the occupational hazards of environmental cleanup projects and concluded that the risk of fatality to the average cleanup worker — a dump-truck driver involved in a collision, for example, or a laborer run over by a bulldozer — is considerably greater than the cancer risks to individual residents that might result from exposures to unremediated sites. (And consider that cancer risks are theoretical estimates over many years or decades, while worksite fatalities occur during the much shorter time of the cleanup.) Even former EPA administrator William Reilly admitted that Superfund’s risk-assessment paradigms are flawed. In a speech at Stanford University while a visiting lecturer, he discussed the excessive costs of basing cleanups on exaggerated worst-case scenarios:

The risks [Superfund] addresses are worst-case, hypothetical present and future risks to the maximum exposed individual, i.e., one who each day consumes two liters of water contaminated by hazardous waste. The program at one time aimed to achieve a risk range in its cleanups adequate to protect the child who regularly ate liters of dirt. . . . And it formerly assumed that all sites, once cleaned up, would be used for residential development, even though many lie within industrial zones. Some of these assumptions have driven clean-up costs to stratospheric levels and, together with liabilities associated with Superfund sites, have resulted in inner-city sites suitable for redevelopment remaining derelict and unproductive.

The most recent new EPA travesty is new rulemaking on methane emissions, which have elicited more than a dozen legal challenges. Driven more by politics than by science, they are based on dubious data and would bring the American energy revolution to a halt, devastating not only the economy but also the environment.

Last year, the EPA reported that since 2005, net methane emissions from natural-gas infrastructure had fallen 38 percent, while total methane emissions from natural gas had dropped 11 percent. This year, however, the EPA claims that methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are one-third higher than previously thought and that overall methane emissions from natural gas have dropped only 0.68 percent since 2005. What can explain such a huge turnaround? Have America’s cows been put on a diet of hummus and baked beans?

The agency says it now has better data to determine methane emissions, but this claim is highly suspect, not only because of the administration’s political objective on this issue but because of the methodology. For one thing, the EPA’s latest figures are based on older sources developed in the 1990s, which has the effect of inflating the current measurements.

The EPA has chosen to ignore that the energy sector has taken numerous steps to reduce emissions. For example, fuels and oils that have been contaminated are now filtered by producers so they can be reused to yield maximum performance with fewer emissions. Birmingham’s Alabama Power has invested in technology that produces electricity more efficiently, lowering overall emissions. Since 2000, oil and gas companies nationwide have invested roughly $90 billion in technologies designed to reduce harmful pollutants.

The EPA is now using the cooked data to justify imposing much tighter limits on methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure. For instance, other studieshave found that the annual price tag to comply with these regulations could hit $800 million, and National Economic Research Associates has concluded that, by 2020, the regulations could be three times more expensive than the EPA estimate.

These costs will undoubtedly be passed on to consumers in the form of higher energy bills and more-expensive consumer products, depleting the recent energy savings consumers have enjoyed as a result of a resurgence of domestic oil and gas production. Last year, those savings saved consumers an average of $550 at the gas pump and boosted the disposable income of the average American household by $1,337.

Another effect of the EPA rule will be negative pressure on one of the American economy’s few sources of job growth: natural-gas exploration. Between 2005 and 2012, the U.S. lost over 378,000 jobs across all sectors, while energy production created more than 293,000 jobs.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and horizontal drilling, which produce most of America’s natural gas, support 2.1 million jobs — a figure once expected to nearly double by 2025. But the new methane standards would crush job growth by impeding new oil and gas projects.

Ironically, the new methane rules will also hurt the environment by crippling a low-carbon-emission technology. As of last year, natural gas–fired power plants tied coal-powered plants as America’s biggest sources of electricity production. Because gas-fired energy plants produce 50 percent less carbon dioxide than coal plants do, the growth of natural-gas infrastructure has played a key role in reducing carbon emissions.

The oil and gas industry has been very effective at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. It has invested $90 billion in zero- or low-carbon energy technologies since 2000 — almost as much as the federal government has spent on clean energy.

Finally, we and others question the EPA’s legal authority to issue such rules. Congress has passed no law that requires the EPA to clamp down on methane emissions. It appears to be yet another example of regulators’ pushing the envelope, similar to the EPA’s declarations that carbon dioxide and rainwater runoff are “pollutants.” “This is yet another example of unlawful federal overreach,” charged West Virginia attorney general Patrick Morrisey. “The rules are a solution in search of a problem and ignore the industry’s success in voluntarily reducing methane emissions from these sources to a 30-year low.”

President-elect Trump has promised that his “environmental agenda will be guided by true specialists in conservation, not those with radical political agendas.” To achieve that goal, he may need to consider eliminating the rogue EPA entirely and assigning the agency’s essential functions to other less scientifically and ethically challenged departments within the sprawling federal bureaucracy. (Recall that the EPA was created during the Nixon administration by cobbling together elements of various departments, including the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture.) Conservation of the environment is something all Americans should support, but trying to accomplish that via a corrupt, ideological, and incompetent agency is a fool’s errand.

— Henry Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, is the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He was the founding director of the Office of Biotechnology at the FDA. Jeff Stier is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and heads its Risk Analysis Division.

See the article here.

OBAMA’S LEGACY: Coal Plants Are Still Closing Despite Trump’s Win

Via The Daily Caller:

President-Elect Donald Trump’s recent election win may have boosted coal industry stocks, but dozens of coal-fired generators around the country are still slated to be shut down in the coming years.

Utilities have plans to shutter 45 coal-fired units at various power plants, according to data compiled by SNL Energy. The closures mean 15,400 MW of coal-fired capacity has received regulatory approval to shut down through 2028.

At least 19 of the coal-fired generators seem to be shutting down because they won’t be able to comply with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limits on mercury emissions, or MATS rule. Others are shutting down likely in anticipation of stricter federal regulations amid low natural gas prices.

Dominion Virginia Power spokeswoman Bonita Harris told SNL its two older coal units at Yorktown are shutting down because of MATS. Harris said the closures would go through even if Trump repealed the rule since such a process would take too long.

“It’s important to know that the MATS rule, which led to the closure of the coal units at Yorktown, is a final rule that has been in place for several years,” Harris said.

“It would take several months if not a year or more for the EPA to propose revisions, accept comment, review and respond to comments, and adopt the final language. So a new administration couldn’t just change it easily,” she said.

EPA granted some power plants a one-year extension in 2015 to come into compliance with the $10 billion rule or shut down, so that’s one explanation for the wave of closures of coal units over 100 megawatts.

It’s a similar story for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s five coal units at two Kentucky power plants. TVA will close the coal units in 2017 to comply with a multi-billion dollar 2011 settlement with the EPA as well as MATS.

Here too, a Trump win has not changed TVA’s plans to close coal units. TVA closed 19 coal units by late 2015, totaling 3,210 megawatts of electric capacity, to comply with the 2011 settlement and other EPA rules.

“While President-elect Trump has indicated a desire to address certain environmental regulations, it is much too early to make any assumptions and determine if that will indeed occur and what it would look like,” Scott Harelson, a spokesman for the Salt River Project, told SNL.

“Our current plans for future operations are not impacted by the election results in the near-term; operations of our facilities and efforts to meet environmental regulations continue as planned,” said Harelson, whose company still plans to shutter a Colorado coal unit in 2025.

Trump won by huge margins in Appalachia propelled, in part, by his pledge to roll back federal environmental regulations and put coal miners to work.

The wave of planned coal plant closures highlights the difficulty facing the coal industry, and the uphill battle Trump faces if he wants to keep his promise of bringing coal mines back online. Despite the uphill climb, many in coal country are hopeful Trump can bring some prosperity back to the region.

“In Trump’s term, I feel we’ll do good, but after that who’s to say?” Roger Prater, a coal miner, told Fox Business.

“I believe in the guy,” echoed North Dakota coal mine superintendent Dave Bettcher. “If he can hold up his end, he’s going to help a lot of people.”

See the article here.

Ten Ways to Fix EPA and Jump-Start the Economy

Via Breitbart.com

President-elect Donald Trump has an unprecedented opportunity to get the economy moving again while protecting the environment in a reasonable and practical manner.

While Republicans have been in charge of the White House and Congress before, there are three major differences between now and then.

First, President-elect Trump campaigned on a platform of rolling back unnecessarily burdensome and economically harmful climate and EPA regulations.

Second, since EPA was formed in 1970, we have gained an awful lot of scientific knowledge about the environment and public health. We have an excellent understanding the health risks that “pollutants” and chemicals in the environment do and do not pose.

Third, we have made great strides in environmental protection since 1970.

Our air is clean and safe. Our water (with the limited exception of spots like Flint, Michigan) is clean and safe. So the task ahead then is to keep the environment clean and safe and to make improvements where it makes sense  — versus spending inordinate sums senselessly returning the environment to Garden of Eden status.

Here are 10 things President Trump could do help jump-start the economy while keeping our environment clean and safe.

  1. Climate. Hysteria over greenhouse has emissions has so proven to be scientifically baseless and economically harmful. Making energy less affordable and less available is a greater actual threat to the environment and public health than climate change at its imaginary worst. President Trump should pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate deal and rollback the Obama Clean Power Plan. This would remove the government boot from the throat of the coal industry and allow the miners to work and compete fairly in the energy marketplace.
  2. Air Quality. EPA has grossly abused air quality science and cost-benefit analysis to impose unnecessarily draconian air quality standards on states. EPA’s recent ozone rule is reputed to be the most expensive EPA regulation of all time – one that will produce no public health or environmental benefits but cost as much as one trillion dollars. These regulations cause states to forego economic opportunities and impose heavy compliance costs in Pyrrhic efforts to satisfy EPA standards that accomplish nothing of value.
  3. Water. EPA and environmentalists have long abused the Clean Water Act in an effort to stop economic development. While the Clean Water Act provides EPA with jurisdiction over “navigable waters,” EPA has arbitrarily extended this jurisdiction even to cover drainage ditches that are dry most of the time. The Obama administration issued the so-called “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule and other usurpation of state authority to formalize even greater EPA power over land use. WOTUS and efforts like the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load program should be rolled back and, ideally, prevented from happening again by Congress. Land use is almost entirely a state issue and states should be allowed to determine what is best for them.
  4. Permitting. Historically, EPA has often wielded its permitting process as a weapon to be used in bringing industry to heel to the agency’s political will. The Obama EPA took this to a new level in disregarding permitting decisions made by states and other federal agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers. Permits granted by states and other federal agencies should be deemed valid by the EPA unless the agency can make a clear-cut showing of significant legal deficiency.
  5. Fracking. Fracking is local activity that should be left entirely to the states. The Obama EPA has been angling for regulatory authority to control/shut down fracking. These efforts should be ended.
  6. End the War on Coal. Much of this can be done by reversing Obama actions on climate and air quality. But there are also a host of actions take by other agencies including the Department of Interior and Mine Safety and Health Administration that have weighed heavily on the industry, while failing to protect/improve miner safety or the environment.
  7. Energy Exports. With all our coal, oil and natural gas, America enjoys practically limitless energy supplies. We can’t possibly use them all so we should facilitate exports to an energy-thirsty world. The Obama administration has slow-walked permits for natural gas export terminals. These should be greenlighted.  Environmental groups have harnessed friendly state governments to block West Coast export terminals for coal. That should also end.
  8. Regulatory Reform. Twenty years ago regulatory reform of EPA was a bipartisan issue. The all of a sudden when Republicans moved to require EPA to make its risk assessment process more science-based and to require EPA to use realistic cost-benefit analysis, Democrats screamed bloody murder at the effort to rein in EPA’s lawless arbitrariness. Sound regulatory reform would prevent EPA from making arbitrary anti-business political decisions that masquerade as environmental protection.
  9. Stop funding enemies of the economy. EPA doles out hundreds of millions of dollars per year to activist groups, universities and to allied states and local governments. The American Lung Association, to name just one, received over $22 million during 2000-2010 and always backed EPA to the hilt. While the money saved won’t balance the federal budget, choking off the life support system for the anti-business mafia is a must.
  10. Change EPA’s culture. EPA has become a left-wing political bludgeon versus an agency that reasonably protects the environment without unduly hindering economic activity. Part of changing the EPA culture involves devolving responsibilities back to states where they belong. A smaller EPA will be less prone to abuse. Remaining EPA duties should be managed to produce actual benefits to the economy and our society. The ideologically anti-business element among agency staff should be shown the door.

EPA has become the most economically destructive regulatory agency in America. President-elect Trump has a unique opportunity to change this. He talked about this during his campaign. Voters expect it from him.

See the article here.

Trump Can Ax the Clean Power Plan by Executive Order

Via The Wall Street Journal:

President Obama pledged to wield a pen and phone during his second term rather than engage with Congress. The slew of executive orders, enforcement memorandums, regulations and “Dear Colleague” letters comprised an unprecedented assertion of executive authority. Equally unparalleled is the ease with which the Obama agenda can be dismantled. Among the first actions on President Trump’s chopping block should be the Clean Power Plan.

In 2009 Congress rejected a cap-and-trade scheme to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency then devised a nearly identical scheme to mandate shifting electricity generation from disfavored facilities, like those powered by coal, to those the EPA prefers, like natural gas and renewables. No statute authorized the EPA to seize regulatory control of the nation’s energy sector. The agency instead discovered, in an all-but-forgotten 1970s-era provision of the Clean Air Act, that it had that power all along.

To support its preferred policy, the agency was compelled to “interpret” the statute in a way that contradicts what it acknowledges is the “literal” reading of the text and clashes with decades of its own regulations. It also nullifies language blocking regulation for power plants because they are already regulated under an alternative program. By mangling the Clean Air Act to intrude on areas it was never meant to, the regulation violates the constitutional bar on commandeering the states to carry out federal policy.

 These defects are why the Supreme Court put the EPA’s plan on hold while an appeals court in Washington, D.C., considers challenges brought by the energy industry and 27 states. These legal challenges now appear to have been overtaken by events. President Trump can immediately issue an executive order to adopt a new energy policy that respects the states’ role in regulating energy markets and that prioritizes making electricity affordable and reliable. Such an order should direct the EPA to cease all efforts to enforce and implement the Clean Power Plan. The agency would then extend all of the regulation’s deadlines, enter an administrative stay and commence regulatory proceedings to rescind the previous order.

That would leave the D.C. appeals court—which some supporters of the plan are still counting on for a Hail Mary save—or the Supreme Court with little choice but to send the legal challenges back to the agency. While the Clean Power Plan could technically linger in the Code of Federal Regulations for a year or so, it would have no legal force.

When an agency changes course, it must provide a reasoned explanation to address factual findings supporting its prior policy. In certain instances that requirement may impose a real burden. For example, a rule rescinding the EPA’s “Endangerment Finding” regarding the effects of greenhouse gases would have to address the evidence underlying it. A failure to provide a satisfactory explanation of a change in policy may render a rule “arbitrary and capricious” and vulnerable to legal challenge.

Environmentalist groups have already vowed to bring suit to defend the Clean Power Plan, but a challenge would be toothless. The aggressive legal positions underlying the Obama administration’s most controversial rules—including the Clean Power Plan, the Waters of the United States rule, and the FCC’s Open Internet order—will make it easier to rescind them. That’s because rejecting the assertion of legal authority underlying such a rule is enough to justify a policy change. If the agency’s view is that it simply lacks the power to carry out a rule, then it follows that the rule must be withdrawn.

 Even if a court were to find that the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act underlying the plan is permissible, that would still not compel the Trump EPA to accept that interpretation as the only permissible one. And even if a court were to rule—erroneously, in our view—that the Clean Power Plan does not violate the Constitution’s vertical separation of powers, that would still not absolve the executive branch of the responsibility to consider that constitutional issue for itself and then act accordingly.

President Obama may soon come to understand that the presidential pen and phone is a double-edged sword.

See the article here.

McKinley: Changes to EPA Regs Will Come Quickly Under Trump

Via West Virginia MetroNews:

Following re-election, 1st District Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.) appeared invigorated in a continued fight against Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

His hopeful demeanor could be attributed to an election outcome that will send Donald Trump (R) to the White House. McKinley said voters expressed their pent-up frustrations at the polls.

“They just wanted change. They’re willing to take a risk and experiment to see if something could be better in their lives. We’ve seen wages frozen, jobs lost, and companies going overseas. It needed a shake-up.”

Meanwhile, McKinley told MetroNews “Talkline” host Hoppy Kercheval his post-election work has including time spent with the Congressional Coal Caucus.

The congressman said there could be immediate changes with EPA laws.

“You’re going to see a real rollback of some of those regulations that have occurred. We’ve already talked with the president’s transition team about that. Give the coal miners and the coal industry and the gas industry a chance to compete in this global economy.”

The Clean Power Plan was announced by the Obama Administration in 2015. The plan sets a national limit on carbon pollution from power plants.

According to McKinley, Trump could repeal the plan by executive order or such action could be initiated by Congress.

“If we pass the Congressional Review Act, which we’ll be able to and they can’t filibuster it in the Senate, then it goes to the president and at that point it is virtually withdrawn.”

McKinley claimed making states submit reduction emission plans by September 2018 prohibits coal and gas companies from entering a global market.

“India is going to double its consumption of coal and they are now consuming for more coal than we are in America totally. China is going to increase its consumption by 70 percent in the next ten years. There are markets overseas that we can reenlist these people back to work by exporting coal.”

McKinley is part of the all-Republican congressional delegation that will continue to represent West Virginia. He recalls a time as a state senator when there was a single Republicans in the state senate.

“A generation has passed before Republicans carried Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. People were rebelling. They say enough. We’ve got to see change. I think that’s what they’re saying in West Virginia as well,” McKinley said.

See the article here.

Trump Administration Could Bring Real Relief to Coal Communities

Via Breitbart.com

Donald Trump praised America’s coal workers throughout the recent presidential campaign. And he vowed to get the coal industry back on its feet.

Under the incoming Trump Administration, it’s realistic to believe that relief could be on the way for decimated coal communities.

You wouldn’t know this from the mainstream media, however. Too often, pundits belittle the impact that Obama administration regulations have had on coal. We’re told that it isn’t federal rules stifling coal production; instead, it’s only market competition that has been responsible for coal’s decline.

This is the administration’s line, and it 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. Before the Obama Administration took action, 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 that the CPP proposed by President Obama could shut down another 56 coal plants nationwide. Without this one rule, EIA says coal output would stabilize, not vanish.

A recent study from the King University business school confirmed this view, showing that natural gas had only a modest effect on coal production and that EPA regulations 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.

Overall, EPA climate regulations under President Obama contributed to the loss of 68,000 jobs in coal communities. The result has been so severe that the President eventually proposed a $3 billion aid package to repair the damage.
In short, coal’s distress has not primarily been 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 was the result of “market conditions.” They were government decisions.

Lifting this regulatory burden from coal fields can also lift the industry up, sparing thousands of jobs throughout the supply chain and even bringing back some jobs lost over the past few years.

There are other valid reasons for President-elect Trump to support coal.  Electricity generation anchored by coal currently saves U.S. consumers roughly $90 billion annually, says IHS Energy Consulting, thanks to a more diverse and affordable energy supply.

A robust coal industry will become a cleaner industry, too. Already, advanced technologies have made coal emissions 90 percent cleaner than 30 years ago. And thanks to pilot programs in Mississippi, Texas, and Saskatchewan, this same scientific prowess is also beginning to allow for the capture of coal’s carbon dioxide emissions. The development of even smarter coal technologies could help to establish America as a global leader while also benefiting a developing world already banking heavily on coal.

It’s clear that America will need abundant power generation in the years to come. And since the United States possesses the world’s largest reserves of coal, it makes sense for the Trump Administration to incorporate coal as part of a diverse energy mix that also includes natural gas, renewables, and nuclear power.

Instead of directing his regulators to keep coal in the ground and its employees in the jobless lines, a Trump administration can encourage the nation’s engineers to make coal cleaner and keep coal miners employed.

Luke Popovich is Vice President for External Communications at the National Mining Association (NMA).

See the article here.

Dismantling Obama’s War on Coal

Via PoliZette:

Donald Trump praised America’s coal workers throughout the recent presidential campaign — and he vowed to get the coal industry back on its feet. Now that a Trump administration is poised to take office on Jan. 20, it’s realistic to believe that relief could be on the way for decimated coal communities.

You wouldn’t know this from the mainstream media, however. Too often, pundits belittle the impact that Obama administration regulations have had on coal. We’re told that it isn’t federal rules stifling coal production; instead, it’s only market competition that has been responsible for coal’s decline.

The development of even smarter coal technologies could help to establish America as a global leader while also benefiting a developing world already banking heavily on coal.
This is the administration’s line — and it 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. Before the Obama administration took action, 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.

The second installment of the Amazon best selling World War III Series. Get your copy today.
America is besieged by terrorism from the Islamic Republic and China. As the US brings the fight to the enemy, other world powers see this as an opportunity to strike America.
Sponsored by James Rosone

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 that the CPP proposed by President Obama could shut down another 56 coal plants nationwide. Without this one rule, EIA says coal output would stabilize — not vanish.

A recent study from the King University business school confirmed this view, showing that natural gas had only a modest effect on coal production and that Environmental Protection Agency regulations 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.

Overall, EPA climate regulations under President Obama contributed to the loss of 68,000 jobs in coal communities. The result has been so severe that the president eventually proposed a $3 billion aid package to repair the damage.

In short, coal’s distress has not primarily been 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 was the result of “market conditions.” They were government decisions.

Lifting this regulatory burden from coal fields can also lift the industry up, sparing thousands of jobs throughout the supply chain and even bringing back some jobs lost over the past few years.

There are other valid reasons for President-Elect Trump to support coal. Electricity generation anchored by coal currently saves U.S. consumers roughly $90 billion annually, says IHS Energy Consulting, thanks to a more diverse and affordable energy supply.

Higher rates are ‘paradox’ signal of growing confidence in U.S. economy, says Stephen Moore
A robust coal industry will become a cleaner industry, too. Already, advanced technologies have made coal emissions 90 percent cleaner than 30 years ago. And thanks to pilot programs in Mississippi, Texas, and Saskatchewan, this same scientific prowess is also beginning to allow for the capture of coal’s carbon dioxide emissions. The development of even smarter coal technologies could help to establish America as a global leader while also benefiting a developing world already banking heavily on coal.

It’s clear that America will need abundant power generation in the years to come. And since the United States possesses the world’s largest reserves of coal, it makes sense for the Trump administration to incorporate coal as part of a diverse energy mix that also includes natural gas, renewables, and nuclear power.

Instead of directing his regulators to keep coal in the ground and its employees in the jobless lines, a Trump administration can encourage the nation’s engineers to make coal cleaner and keep coal miners employed.

See the article here.

Trump’s Plan for Coal Industry Revival Means Big EPA Changes

Via Newsmax:

President-elect Donald Trump’s goal to jump-start the coal industry will likely mean tossing out the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate control agenda, the Washington Examiner reports.

Under Trump, the EPA is expected to focus on “genuine pollutants” that pose immediate problems to the public’s well-being. It would move away from carbon pollution, which has been blamed for causing man-made globe warming.

“He’s very much for clean air and clean water,” Kathleen Hartnett-White, a member of Trump’s economic advisory council, told the Washington Examiner. “But the better home for considering this discussion about carbon dioxide and climate is in the Department of Energy.”

She said regulating carbon dioxide “is the killer of coal.”

“Carbon dioxide has no adverse impact in the air we breath at all,” Hartnett-White said. “It’s a harmless trace gas that is actually an essential nutrient for plants.”

But even with regulatory rollbacks, experts are split on whether the coal industry can rebound, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

The National Mining Association, which congratulated Trump on his victory, noted that, “a robust mining industry is only possible with reasonable laws and regulations that balance costs with benefits in pursuit of reasonable goals.”

According to the Gazette-Mail, James Van Nostrand, director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development at the West Virginia University College of Law added: “In my view, the election is not going to have much impact on the prospects for the coal industry in West Virginia going forward, Environmental regulations were not significant drivers in the decline of the industry, and scaling them back is not going to revive it.

See the article here.

Trump’s Plan to Bring Back Coal Country Places EPA in Crosshairs

Via The Washington Examiner:

President-elect Trump’s plan to bring back the coal industry will likely start by scrapping the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate change agenda, according to a newly appointed member of his transition team.

The agency would be dialed back to focus strictly on “genuine pollutants” that pose immediate harm to public health, and not carbon pollution blamed for causing manmade global warming, said Kathleen Hartnett-White, a member of Trump’s economic advisory council, in an interview with the Washington Examiner.

“He’s very much for clean air and clean water,” she said. “But the better home for considering this discussion about carbon dioxide and climate is in the Department of Energy.”

Over the last eight years of the Obama administration, the EPA “used the legal rubrics of the Clean Air Act really to pursue a low-carbon energy policy and really not to further environmental protection,” she said.

She explained that regulating CO2 “is the killer for coal.” So, pulling back the two principal regulations directed at the coal industry will help that resource the most, she said. “The two direct regulations for new sources and for existing sources are both direct regulations, and are also the ones that I think have constitutional problems,” she said.

Both regulations are undergoing court review and are expected to go to the Supreme Court before a final decision is made on their legality. Over half the states in the country are opposing the centerpiece of the regualtions, called the Clean Power Plan, by arguing that EPA has overstepped its legal authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate CO2.

The Supreme Court put a hold on the EPA power plan on Feb. 9 as it makes its way through a lower federal appeals court.

“Carbon dioxide has no adverse impact in the air we breath at all,” Hartnett-White said. “It’s a harmless trace gas that is actually an essential nutrient for plants.”

The Clean Air Act “was never designed to control a pollutant that ubiquitous that has no adverse environmental impacts on people,” she added.

If the government wants to address CO2, then the “U.S. Congress should be the ultimate arbiter of this,” she said. “That to me is a decision that Congress makes and not experts at EPA.”

She noted that Bob Murray, the CEO of Ohio-based Murray Coal, recently said “he does not envision that the entire coal industry will be back in place, but a level playing field to allow coal” to compete under a Trump administration.

She said coal companies can be clean and remain competitive by focusing on cutting criteria pollutants like nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and the other 200-plus toxic air polltants. Those pollutants can be controlled with available and affordable technologies, which is not the case for carbon dioxide.

Trying to force coal plants to use technologies that aren’t commercial and only halfway developed, as EPA is forcing them to do under the climate rules, is cost-prohibitive and will put them out of business, according to Hartnett-White. Even the cleanest coal plants in the country are at risk of shutting down if the Clean Power Plan is allowed to move forward, she explained.

“There is a very important role for environmental protection, but you can do so in a way that is not based on implausible worst-case scenarios and onerous, onerous regulations,” Hartnett-White said.

“The entire eight years of the Obama administration, they used the legal rubrics of the Clean Air Act really to pursue a low-carbon energy policy and really not to further environmental protection,” she said.

Hartnett-White was asked Friday to join the president-elect’s transition team. She has already been an adviser to his campaign on energy and regulatory reform based on her experience serving on the Texas environment commission, which she notes is the largest environmental regulatory body in the world, second only to EPA.

She led a number of crucial environmental fights between Texas and EPA over the years, especially when it came to Washington trying to dictate terms on what the state should do to cut its emissions.

Although she is not certain exactly where the president-elect will come down on his policy on how to address EPA overreach, she told the Examiner that the focus will be on what is achievable under the law to guard human health.

“Two of the four of Donald Trump‘s economic policies, which he consistently from the very beginning of his speeches and his written statements,” have focused on energy and regulations, she explained.

“There’s taxes, and there’s trade reform, but the other two of equal importance are the energy factor, taking great advantage of newly accessed vast energy resources, and the fourth is regulatory reform,” she added.

See the article here.

A President Trump Spells Sudden Optimism for Coal in Pennsylvania

Via The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

In recent years, coal communities and power plants, coal’s biggest clients, knew which way the industry was headed.

As the power sector’s reliance on coal has waned — and it shuttered coal-fired plants and embraced other fuels — many mining communities felt left behind. At least 18,000 coal mining jobs have been lost across Appalachia since 2012.

The presidential election this week of Republican Donald J. Trump, who harnessed strong support from coal country by promising to reverse the fortunes for the struggling industry, changes everything.

“A new administration and a new Congress means a new beginning,” wrote the National Mining Association, a Washington D.C.-based industry group that has aggressively challenged President Barack Obama’s clean air rules.

That message resonated in the region’s coalfields, where the county-level vote totals on Wednesday showed Mr. Trump won by a significantly larger margin than Republican candidate Mitt Romney did in 2012.

In Greene County, for example, Mr. Trump received 70 percent of the vote, compared with 58 percent who voted for Mr. Romney in 2012. In Fayette County, about 64 percent of residents voted for Mr. Trump, higher than the 54 percent who voted for Mr. Romney. Washington County’s was smaller, but still 61 percent voted for the Republican this year compared with 56 in 2012.

President-elect Trump’s impact on energy policy could be extensive, although exactly the form that will take is not clear. One of the few concrete energy policy pillars heard from the candidate during the campaign is his support for fossil fuels. Mr. Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, promised to roll back Mr. Obama’s clean air regulations.

During a rally in Pittsburgh in April, Mr. Trump told workers he would “bring back” coal and steel jobs — a promise that was questioned by analysts as unlikely or impossible. While coal power faces a spate of clean air and water regulations issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it has also suffered from an ocean of cheaper natural gas.

On Wednesday, coal company stocks surged, with Canonsburg-based CNX Coal Resources LP closing 12 percent higher than on Election Day. CNX Coal owns 25 percent of the Bailey Mine complex in southwestern Pennsylvania while Consol Energy Inc., primarily an oil and gas company that owns the remaining interest in the coal complex, saw its stock price gain 9 percent after the election.

Meanwhile, oil and gas companies also gained ground, echoing Mr. Trump’s promise to support increased oil and gas production, whose glut in the U.S. has depressed prices; caused an industry downturn over the past year; and replaced coal as the fuel of choice for many power plants.

“Long term, the coal industry faces stiff competition from cheap, abundant natural gas,” wrote Bloomberg analysts Karen Ubelhart and Christopher Ciolino on Wednesday. “This pressure is unlikely to ease, given that Trump also wants to end all fracking restrictions.”

“Initiatives to ease both coal and natural gas restrictions would be at odds,” they warn. “These two industries can’t grow simultaneously.”

Blair Zimmerman, a Democratic county commissioner in Greene County and retired coal miner of 40 years, was disappointed by Mr. Trump’s election.

“We can’t have the blinders on,” he said. “We have to look beyond coal. Even if coal comes back — meaning rolling back some of the regulations that will let you sell more coal — there’s not going to be a lot of new coal mines in the area.”

He added, “I hope this government looks beyond the coal industry and says, OK, things are going to change, we need to help these people start the transition.”

Mr. Trump had his eye on getting miners back to work when he met with Robert Murray, CEO of Ohio-based coal miner Murray Energy Corp., earlier this year, according to Murray’s vice president of government affairs Michael Carey.

Speaking at a coal industry conference in Pittsburgh in September, Mr. Carey said a President Trump would struggle to bring Appalachian coal production back to its glory days. “It’s very simple. There’s not much he can do,” he said.

“He can stop the bleeding,” Mr. Carey said, noting Mr. Trump’s promise to halt all environmental regulations in the first 100 days.

One likely course of action is Mr. Trump’s plan to nominate a conservative justice to the fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court who will sway a final court decision on the Clean Power Plan. The spate of clean air rules, finalized by the EPA last year, seek to cut carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. power sector by 32 percent by 2032.

A group of conservative states and interest groups, including the National Mining Association, sued the government over the Clean Power Plan. Regardless of the outcome in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the Supreme Court is likely to hear the case next year.

Mr. Trump could also cancel U.S. commitments to a global climate agreement brokered last year in Paris and lift the U.S. Department of Interior’s moratorium on coal mining on federal lands.

In September, Mr. Trump said he selected Myron Ebell, a climate change skeptic and director of energy and environment policy at the conservative think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, to lead his EPA transition team.

Meanwhile, union coal miners were apparently divided by the candidates. For the second consecutive presidential election, the United Mine Workers of America declined to endorse a candidate after endorsing Mr. Obama in 2008.

At a UMWA rally at the Greene County Fairgrounds in April, miners seethed anger at both candidates and flung vitriol at coal companies for cutting retirement benefits in bankruptcy. The rally came on the heels of Ms. Clinton’s comment in March that she planned to “put a lot of coal companies and coal miners out of business.”

A statement Wednesday from UMWA President Cecil E. Roberts contained little emotion: “The people have spoken. Millions are happy with the results, millions are not,” it read.

Mr. Roberts repeated the union’s call for Congress to pass legislation that would shore up pension funds — a bill that Republicans, including Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, have hesitated to support.

“President-elect Trump has spoken many times about addressing the serious economic disaster that is affecting large areas of Appalachia and other coal-producing areas of our country by putting coal miners back to work,” the statement continued. “No one is more interested in doing just exactly that than the UMWA.”

See the article here.

WV Congressional Delegation to Seek Repeal of EPA Regs

Via The Charleston Gazette:

With Republican Donald Trump set to take over the White House in January, West Virginia’s congressional members are calling for a rollback of federal air-pollution regulations, a repeal of the President Barack Obama’s signature health care law and for the new president to support spending on infrastructure and miners’ pensions.

After years of criticizing and bemoaning the Obama administration’s regulations on mercury, sulfur and carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants, West Virginia’s congressional delegation is looking forward to repealing the federal rules, which they almost unanimously blame for the continued decline in the state’s mining industry.

Republicans Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Rep. Evan Jenkins, Rep. David McKinley and Rep. Alex Mooney also are likely to push for the repeal of Obamacare, which gave hundreds of thousands West Virginians health insurance for the first time but has been criticized for rising premiums nationwide.

“Last night’s historic election of Donald Trump is a much-needed step towards advancing an agenda that will prioritize working families and small businesses on Main Street,” McKinley said in a statement.

“This agenda must include the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, the rolling back of job-killing regulations and executive orders, and finally, a national energy policy that stimulates the economy and makes America more secure,” McKinley said. “I look forward to working with the new Trump administration and both parties in Congress to get this done.”

West Virginia’s Republicans said they believe Trump’s win Tuesday night — along with the party’s continued control of the U.S. House and Senate — was evidence of a mandate from voters throughout the country, even though he didn’t win the popular vote.

“The American people spoke loud and clear — they are tired of business as usual in Washington,” Jenkins said. “They are tired of being ignored, of their voices not being heard, of jobs lost, of opportunities denied, of crumbling roads and bridges, and of uncertainty about their families’ futures.”

Capito agreed, but added that she is hoping that Trump, who ran a combative and divisive campaign while also fighting members of his own party at times, would work with congressional leaders.

“This was a hard-fought, long campaign, and they deserve credit for tapping into the concerns of many Americans, including a majority of West Virginians,” Capito said. “Going forward, I encourage Donald Trump and his administration to work with Congress and propose practical, not partisan, solutions to issues like expanding broadband in rural America, getting our coal miners back to work and creating new opportunities for businesses and families who have been devastated over the last several years.”

Manchin said he is looking forward to working with Trump to end the proposed regulations on carbon emissions from power plants, which scientists say is the first step needed to combat rising global temperatures.

“I thought that President Obama’s energy policies were wrong for the country,” Manchin said, adding that he doesn’t believe carbon regulations would do anything to help the environment.

Manchin, a conservative Democrat who blamed the West Virginia Republican Party’s continued success in the state on “national Democrats” and Obama, said he believes he can work with Trump on things like tax reform and increased research spending for “clean coal” technology.

But Manchin said he still believes that the federal government needs to have “compassion” and to have a “humanistic approach” to it. He wants to push to make sure that the ACA is reformed, instead of being completely repealed, which would leave millions of people without insurance nationwide.

 “You’re not going to be able to strip it away — it’s not humane to strip it away — from people that got it for the first time,” Manchin said.

Capito said the health care law needs to be repealed but that she hopes to have some type of temporary plan in place until Republican lawmakers can replace it.

“I expect we will have a full repeal of Obamacare,” she said. “I’ve voted for it before, but I think we need to have a transitional plan. I’m not interested in throwing them into the cold.”

Another priority of Manchin and Capito under Trump’s presidency, they said, is to pass a federal law that would save the pensions of thousands of union miners in West Virginia and other states.

That law — the Miner’s Protection Act — has had bi-partisan support in Congress, but the bill has been held up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who also has constituents who would benefit from the bill.

“I am going to reach out to the Trump transition team immediately,” Manchin said, adding that he is friends with New Jersey governor and Trump surrogate Chris Christie. “They have to ask Mitch about that immediately. It’s inhumane what they are doing. It’s wrong. It’s just pure wrong.”

While West Virginia’s congressional members have lashed out at the Obama administration for its energy policies, some of the state’s political leaders seemed to express hope that Trump would continue other initiatives started by the departing president.

Jenkins, for instance, said there needs to be a continued focus on diversifying the state’s economy and spending on infrastructure, something the Obama administration has started in coalfield communities with its POWER Plus initiative.

“We must diversify and revitalize our economy, to attract new industries to West Virginia,” said Jenkins, who has been in attendance when federal officials were announcing grants under the federal program. “We must invest in our roads, repair our failing bridges and build new highways to connect communities and create jobs.”

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had proposed a similar program during her presidential campaign, but Trump has not made public statements about whether he supports saving miners’ pensions or continued federal reinvestment in Appalachian communities.

The president-elect easily won West Virginia by promising to put miners back to work.

“I have already reached out to President-elect Trump’s transition team to offer my congratulations and to begin the push for an agenda to enact solutions to get our coal communities growing again, to invest in our highways and infrastructure, and to create economic opportunity for all,” Jenkins said.

See the article here.

For NMA, a New Administration and a New Congress Means a New Beginning

The U.S. mining industry looks forward to working with the Trump administration and the 115th Congress on a wide range of issues of mutual interest. Meeting the needs of the American people cannot be accomplished without a robust mining industry. And a robust mining industry is only possible with reasonable laws and regulations that balance costs with benefits in pursuit of realistic goals.

From infrastructure and energy to job creation and technological innovation, mining’s contributions are vital for addressing the nation’s priorities.

  • Improving the nation’s infrastructure and sustaining a strong national defense depend on minerals and metals mined on public and private land.
  • The world’s growing need for energy and our own reliance on a diverse energy supply argue strongly for policies that favor all domestic energy sources.
  • Continuing to raise global living standards and make further progress on environmental and health issues will require commercial deployment of advanced energy technologies powered by public and private investment.

These issues are part of the national agenda shared by the mining industry. America’s miners can contribute much to the solutions made possible by a new policy dialogue. With the world’s largest coal supply and a rich mineral endowment, we have the resources the new administration and Congress will need to build a stronger economy and provide better jobs.

See the press release here.

Guest Column: Coal Should Remain Part of Our Power Plan

Via The Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Recently here in the Tyler Paper, a guest columnist argued the country must leave coal behind as an energy source, citing a one-sided report paid for by the left-wing nonprofit Public Citizen.

This report alleges Texas’ coal-fired electricity industry is in decline and unlikely to recover due to rising competition from other energy sources. It also claims, based on flawed market projections, we should prematurely shut down existing coal-fired power plants before the end of their useful lives.

This new salvo in the left’s continued War on Coal is naïve, expensive, and risky for our power grid. It is based on a disingenuous attempt to celebrate “market forces,” when what they advocate is to distort those markets with unsound overregulation and wasteful, premature retirement of valuable power generation assets.

What environmentalists claim are “market headwinds” are actually a combination of three factors” (1) an onslaught of federal environmental regulation that has significantly increased the operating and transactional expenses of coal-fired generation; (2) the current lull in natural gas prices which reduces coal dispatch in many markets and lowers power sale margins in all markets; and (3) growing market distortions from premature acceleration of renewable energy by federal policy. The report echoes this, assuming gas prices will be low forever and that renewable generation can meet future energy demand.

It is unsound energy planning to make long-term retirement decisions based on hopeful projections and to assign permanent significance to present-day challenges faced by all power generators in a distorted market.

The only thing certain about markets is that they change. We need to let the market work, as opposed to urging market distortions in hopes that unsupported market predictions will come true. We need to do what we’ve always done to power our strong economy – maintain an “all of the above” energy strategy that relies on all of Texas’ energy sources.

President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued numerous rules targeting the fossil energy industry, with a particular emphasis on coal. For example, after failing to pass a greenhouse gas “Cap and Trade” scheme with a Democratic majority in his first 13 months in office, President Obama’s EPA went to work to develop the “Clean Power Plan.” It was finalized late last year and has been the subject of an unprecedented legal battle in which over 27 states and 120 organizations have legally challenged the rule.

Many legal observers immediately recognized the rule was illegal at best and perhaps unconstitutional. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court did something it has never done – issued a stay of rule while it was still being reviewed by a lower court. This puts the rule’s implementation on hold while years of legal challenges play out.

A court ruling against the Clean Power Plan won’t be a ruling against the environment – it will be a statement that EPA must stay within the bounds of authority granted by our elected officials in Congress. We will all be the benefactors of such a ruling given the double-digit increases in electricity rates the rule is projected to cause while at the same time generating no real environmental gain.

Ultimately, coal will remain pivotal source of energy for years to come, especially given the rapidly growing need for energy.

Luckily, these groups aren’t in charge of Texas’ market or electricity grid and, as a result, we will have coal in our energy mix for a long time and East Texas will be better for it.

Mike Nasi is the General Counsel of Balanced Energy for Texas (BET), a statewide coalition of energy consumers, producers, and providers committed to supporting policies that preserve and promote our state’s leading role in energy and economic development.

See the article here.

Look to Appalachia for Solutions to Climate Change

Via The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 

To hear environmentalists and the politicians who cater to them tell it, the United States can win the climate battle by phasing out our nation’s coal industry. This thinking is not only fundamentally flawed, but it’s also keeping America from investing in the energy technology that will be needed to make a global difference in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Global climate change is — as the name suggests — a global problem. Emissions cuts in one nation, or on one continent, will count for little if countries in other parts of the world stay on the sidelines.

U.S. reliance on coal may be ebbing but that’s far from the case elsewhere. China alone accounts for half the world’s coal consumption. India, with its burgeoning middle class and desperate need for electrification, is aiming to double its domestic coal production within a decade.

Even Germany — which plans to spend nearly $2 trillion subsidizing wind and solar power — still relies on coal to meet 40 percent of its electricity needs, a full 10 percent more than the United States does. Poland uses coal to meet 80 percent of its electricity demand. Coal accounts for a large part of electricity production in Central and Eastern Europe, as it does in Asia, Australia and South America. Affordable, reliable coal is irreplaceable.

If we are truly serious about reducing global emissions, we need far more investment in and demonstration of clean-coal technology, particularly carbon capture and storage (which involves extracting carbon dioxide from emissions and storing it underground).

But it’s also time Washington policy makers stop referring to CCS as “clean-coal technology.” Natural gas plants are going to need the process, too.

The technology to achieve this breakthrough can come from national laboratories and universities here in Appalachia.

There’s an emerging mythology in some circles that natural gas is a silver bullet when it comes to carbon reduction. Greater use of natural gas for electricity generation has helped reduce emissions, but it, too, is a carbon-emitting fossil fuel. Switching from coal to natural gas may help reduce emissions incrementally, but environmental groups see gas not as a solution but rather as a growing problem.

The Sierra Club, for example, is poised to launch a new multi-million-dollar anti-gas campaign aimed at fighting new gas pipelines and more than 200 proposed natural-gas plants.

For environmental activists concerned about climate change, stopping investment in new fossil-fuel infrastructure has become a crusade under the banner of “keep it in the ground.” Unfortunately, this crusade seems to be driving our energy policy.

Aiming to dismantle our fossil-fuel infrastructure with overzealous regulation is not the answer. Nor is turning away from coal the answer elsewhere in the world, especially in developing countries that desperately need huge amounts of additional electrical capacity.

These countries, with their expanding middle classes, need energy technology breakthroughs ranging from more efficient wind and solar power to cheaper nuclear energy if they are to modernize without dramatically accelerating climate change. But, even more important, they (and we) need advances in fossil fuel technologies like CCS. We know we can improve the performance of fossil fuels employing high-efficiency, low-emission technologies.

For example, more than 90 percent of coal-fired power plants have installed advanced emission controls. Sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide particulates and mercury emissions are down 90 percent.

Sacrificing our coal industry — and then our natural-gas industry — at the altar of climate change will do little for the world. Technological advances that make it both possible and economical to use these fuels while minimizing carbon emissions is the sort of energy leadership the world needs.

Breakthroughs with CCS technology have been slow to come, but there’s promise. For example, Exxon-Mobil has partnered with a company that is working to link CCS with fuel cells. This process treats emitted carbon not as a waste but rather as a fuel to generate even more power, while cutting emissions 90 percent. And scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have just discovered a way to turn carbon dioxide into ethanol.

Making CCS work is not an intractable problem. The question is, do we have the foresight and political toughness to produce a solution?

Environmentalists may not like it, but the truth is that global emissions can be cut only with major advances in energy technology. And that’s going to require U.S. leadership in developing methods for carbon mitigation and then making the technologies available for global use. This is the energy challenge of our time.

Syd Peng is Charles E. Lawall Chair in Mining Engineering emeritus at West Virginia University.

See the article here.

Holding the EPA to Account

Via The Washington Examiner:

For 45 years, federal law has made protecting the environment a priority under the National Environmental Policy Act by mandating that the consideration of environmental impacts be considered as part of every federal action. During much of the same time period, Congress directed the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate the potential job losses and shifts in employment caused by environmental regulations. Yet EPA has refused to provide Congress with the information needed to address impacts ranging from industries being shuttered, to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and communities disrupted.

Those days of inaction may be over. A federal trial court in West Virginia, in a case called Murray Energy Corporation v. EPA, recently found that EPA failed or refused to implement a statutory requirement to continuously evaluate job losses and shifts in employment caused by its regulations. The court ordered EPA to fully comply with the law. The court further found that due to the impact of its regulations on our economy, and the undisputed widespread employment effects suffered by the coal industry, it would be an abuse of discretion for EPA to refuse to conduct the job loss impacts on the coal industry resulting from its regulations.

In reaching its decision, the court heard testimony, undertook an exhaustive review of legislative history, examined the multiple congressional oversight hearings and the many demands from Congress for EPA to implement the job loss evaluations, as well as commitments made by EPA to Congress. The court also reviewed responses to Freedom of Information requests in which EPA admitted it never undertook any job loss evaluations.

But the most striking part of the court’s examination of legislative and regulatory activity is how much the political process has changed. In 1972, Congress was being told that jobs were being lost due to over-reaching regulations — just like today. Under a bipartisan compromise, Congress directed EPA to evaluate the impact of its regulations on jobs so that it could understand the scope of the problem. Congress wanted information. But Congress did not get that information.

So why for almost four decades did EPA refuse to provide Congress with the employment impacts information it needed to determine whether regulations are harming workers?

The answer is embedded in the vast differences in how EPA gives priority to its environmental mission over the low priority it gives to evaluating job losses.

When sued by an environmental advocacy group seeking more regulations, EPA often does not defend itself. Instead, it admits wrongdoing and agrees to a court-supervised deal usually requiring new and more stringent regulations that are enforceable by the environmental advocate. As a result, the environmental advocates are given the power to control EPA’s regulatory priorities and get handsomely paid for their attorneys’ fees. Termed “Sue and Settle,” this process has been used by EPA 122 times in just Clean Air Act cases since 2009.

In contrast, when EPA was sued over potential impacts of its actions on jobs, it fought tooth and nail. In the Murray case, EPA argued that companies being put out of business by its regulations do not have standing to sue since they suffered no injury. EPA filed numerous motions to prevent EPA officials from being deposed, and asked an appellate court to direct the trial court to disallow discovery. EPA also filed motions to disqualify expert witnesses from testifying and to exclude expert reports and related testimony of Murray Energy’s experts.

It is EPA’s responsibility as a federal agency representing the wider public interest to protect the nation from environmental harm. But Congress did not give EPA a blank check to issue environmental regulations without any regard for their consequences — including destroying jobs and the communities that depend on those jobs. Quite the contrary. Congress mandated EPA to inform it of the impact its regulations have on employment so Congress, the nation’s lawmaker, has the information to adjust the laws when circumstances require it.

Now that EPA is under a federal court order to evaluate job loss from its regulations, it should undertake its statutory duty and inform Congress, and the public, about the real-life impacts of its regulations.

See the article here.

EPA Responds to Mandate on Jobs Impact

Via The Weirton Daily Times:

WHEELING — The Environmental Protection Agency plans to rely on its Science Advisory Board to satisfy U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey’s mandate that it evaluate job losses as part of implementing new regulations, but Murray Energy Corp. officials called the compliance plan “deeply offensive.”

This week, EPA attorneys filed the compliance plan Bailey required regarding how the agency would account for potential job losses while enforcing the Clean Air Act. Last month, Bailey affirmed the position Murray and its subsidiaries took in March 2014 that the EPA did not comply with a section of the federal law requiring a study of the jobs impact of its regulations.

However, EPA attorneys wrote to Bailey, “the U.S. maintains that this court lacks jurisdiction over this matter; that the (EPA) has performed the evaluations as described in section 321 (a) …” The attorneys clearly state they may also appeal Bailey’s ruling, but submitted the plan to satisfy his requirement.

Murray Energy Corp. Chairman, President and CEO Robert E. Murray quickly blasted the EPA’s response.

“The response to the federal court filed yesterday by (President) Barack Obama, (EPA Administrator) Gina McCarthy, and the U.S. Department of Justice is deeply offensive to the court, to the employees of Murray Energy and their families, and to those Americans who rely on the lowest cost and most reliable electricity, which coal provides,” Murray said. “Indeed, the Obama EPA has plainly admitted in their filing that they have never counted the job losses required under Section 321(a) of the Clean Air Act of 1971 and will require up to two years to do so. They have totally flouted and ignored the law and the court.”

Throughout the response, EPA attorneys continuously refer to the 14-day turnaround from Bailey’s Oct. 17 ruling as an obstacle to formulating a full strategy for compliance. The EPA cites the work the advisory board did on the agency’s extensive natural gas fracking study from 2011 to this year as evidence it can rely on the board for advice.

Murray believes this is all a “clear disregard for the law.”

“Our nation’s coal miners, and their families, cannot endure the continued destruction of their lives by the illegal regulations and actions of the Obama administration. Murray Energy Corp. will continue to fight back in order to save these American jobs and family livelihoods, and the most reliable, lowest-cost electricity in America,” Murray said.

Although there is a national stay against the agency’s enforcement of the Clean Power Plan while legal challenges to it are resolved, Murray said Wednesday the administration is illegally proceeding with its “Clean Energy Incentive Program.”

“The so-called Clean Power Plan is absolutely illegal and constitutes a total political power grab of America’s power grid. While Murray Energy was successful in obtaining a nationwide stay from the Supreme Court, the Obama EPA has continued to flout the law and the Supreme Court, and continue to implement their illegal agenda,” Murray said.

See the article here.

Regulatory Overreach, Not Just Cheap Natural Gas, is Killing Coal

Via The Star-Telegram:

A decade ago, America’s coal industry was prospering, providing about 60 percent of America’s electric power generation and exporting growing volumes of both steam and metallurgical coal to Asia and Europe.

By contrast, coal-fired generation today accounts for less than one-third of the electrons on the power grid, while dozens of companies are in bankruptcy, thousands of high-wage jobs have been lost and exports have declined dramatically.

To make matters worse, President Barack Obama has halted all new coal leasing on federal land and environmentalists have succeeded in blocking seven proposed West Coast export terminals that could have handled more than 125 million tons of coal annually.

Without question, cheap and abundant natural gas — thanks to the shale revolution — has contributed to the decline of King Coal.

But a growing pile of federal regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies has been just as significant, perhaps even more so.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the Clean Power Plan are but two examples of the administration’s attempt to phase out the nation’s use of coal, and both are being challenged in the courts.

The MATS rule, finalized in late 2011, requires a 90 percent reduction in coal’s mercury content, an 88 percent reduction of acid gas emissions and a 41 percent drop in sulfur dioxide within four years.

Though the legal battle continues over whether the EPA properly weighed the costs and benefits when drafting the regulations that the agency itself acknowledges to be the most expensive rules ever promulgated, a recent decision by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has allowed the rules to remain in effect.

So far, according to Department of Energy data, 20 gigawatts of coal power have been retired as a result, more than four times the amount projected by the EPA.

The Clean Power Plan, which has been opposed by 24 states — including Texas — and various energy producers, mandates a 32 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants within 25 years, relative to 2005 levels.

In February, the Supreme Court issued a stay on the regulations pending the outcome of litigation in lower courts.

The litigating states claim the EPA is pursuing an agenda to “eliminate coal-fired power plants … by virtue of an impossibly high technology standard.”

In fact, the CO2 reductions mandated by the CPP would require combining expensive technologies that are currently not in use anywhere in the world.

What’s more, there appears to be a clear political bias in the state-by-state CO2 reduction targets established under the CPP.

The states with the smallest proposed reductions voted 75 percent Democrat in the 2012 election while those with the greatest burden voted 66 percent Republican.

The Obama administration and EPA pretend that their efforts to roll back the coal industry don’t exist.

They are quick to point toward cheap natural gas as the cause of the coal industry’s decline.

Yet make no mistake, their actions to manipulate the electricity marketplace have been crippling.

With one new rule or regulation accumulating on top of another, they’ve rigged the game.

It’s as if they’ve told Tom Brady he can play but he’s not allowed to throw down the field.

When he inevitably loses, the Obama administration takes no blame and rather suggests the opposing defense was too good.

Heavy-handed government regulation to reduce CO2 is a terrible mistake. It’s an emissions reduction model the world — particularly the developing world — cannot replicate.

According to our own Department of Energy projections, global coal use is expected to rise ever year through at least 2040.

We are sacrificing our own coal industry, the good jobs it supports and the affordable energy it provides for emissions cuts here that are likely to be overwhelmed by rising emissions overseas.

Instead of relying on regulatory fiat to reshape our energy marketplace, we should continue to trust technology and competition to achieve the nation’s environmental goals.

Even more worrying, the ongoing battle against coal could also become an assault on natural gas if, as expected, the government sets stricter — and unrealistic — carbon reduction goals in the years ahead.

Bernard L. Weinstein is associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute and an adjunct professor of business economics in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University.

See the article here.

Rep. Jenkins Asks White House to Stop Stream Buffer Zone Rule

Via HuntingtonNews.Net:

WASHINGTON – During a call with the White House, U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) urged the administration to reconsider a new regulation that would cost West Virginia even more coal jobs.

 Rep. Jenkins spoke with the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Howard Shelanski about the harm the proposed stream buffer zone rule would cause to West Virginia, including the loss of more coal jobs in hard-hit coal communities.

 “Not only would the stream buffer zone rule halt countless coal mines, it also represents this administration’s ideologically-driven agenda that ignores the will of Congress and the voices of the states. I called Administrator Shelanski to make sure he personally heard how this rule will hurt West Virginia, and I asked him to reconsider this proposal and its many flaws. West Virginia has lost tens of thousands of coal mining jobs in just the past few years, and this rule threatens more. The White House has a chance to make this right – they just have to make that choice,” Rep. Jenkins said.

 OSM has failed to re-engage with the states in a meaningful and transparent way – as they were mandated to do in legislation we passed in December 2015. I relayed to Administrator Shelanski the devastating economic impact the rule would have in West Virginia and requested he take a hard look at OSM’s proposal and its many flaws.

 The stream buffer zone rule is currently being drafted by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, which has repeatedly failed to work with the states to get their feedback on this rule. Congress passed legislation in December 2015 requiring the office to re-engage with the states.

See the article here.

Making The Rogue EPA Obey The Law, One Case At A Time

Via Investor’s Business Daily:

The Obama administration’s war on coal was dealt a setback by a recent decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. The court held that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency failed to follow the law and did not properly evaluate the job losses caused by its regulations.

Plaintiffs, including Murray Energy Corp., a large coal producer, sued the EPA regarding its failure to comply with the Clean Air Act, which instructs the EPA to “conduct continuing evaluations of potential loss or shifts of employment which may result from the administration or enforcement of the provision of this Act and applicable implementation plans.”

The EPA argued that because there is no specified date by which evaluations should be completed, there is no enforceable duty to perform any evaluations. The court, noting the “continuing” language used in the statute, didn’t agree. The EPA here is like a child who after being told by a parent to “keep your room clean” argues that the absence of a deadline means that they do not really have to clean the room.

Only in a federal bureaucracy could the term “continuing” be construed as “never.” As the court noted, the “Blacks’s Law Dictionary” definition of “continuing” is “uninterrupted.”

The court stated that “while the EPA may have discretion as to the timing of such evaluations, it does not have the discretion to categorically refuse to conduct any such evaluations.”

The court further noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has held “it is rudimentary administrative law that discretion as to the substance of the ultimate decision does not confer discretion to ignore the required procedures of decision-making.”

Thus, while Congress gave the EPA discretion to determine the structure of “continuing evaluations,” that discretion cannot be translated into discretion to not conduct the evaluations.

The EPA also had the gall to assert that the plaintiff coal companies had no standing to sue, arguing that no injury to the plaintiffs could be traced to the failure to perform evaluations.

On this point the court disagreed, stating, “while the EPA argues that such (injury) would only be traceable to the earlier actions of the EPA rather than the failure of the EPA to conduct employment evaluations, this Court cannot agree. The claimed injuries, while in part traceable to the prior actions of the EPA, may also be fairly traceable to the failure of the EPA to conduct the evaluations.”

The court then gets to the real reason why the EPA does not want to perform these continuing evaluations: Doing so “may have the effect of convincing the EPA, Congress, and/or the American public to relax or alter EPA’s prior decisions.” In other words, the EPA knows that the only way to be sure it can succeed in its war on coal is to keep the effects secret as long as possible.

Keeping the effects secret will also help keep Congress from asking the EPA uncomfortable questions. Here the court, quoting the U.S. Supreme Court, stated that the “continuing evaluation requirement ‘will allow the Congress to get a close look at the effects on employment of legislation such as this, and will thus place us in a position to consider such remedial legislation as may be necessary to ameliorate those effects.’ ”

The court ordered the EPA to provide it with a plan on how it would perform the evaluations. After the EPA begins performing the required evaluations, Congress should take up the court’s invitation and “get a close look at the effects on employment.” Those effects should be taken into consideration when considering how much taxpayer money the EPA gets from Congress next year.

See the article here.

NMA Shows D.C. Circuit New Evidence of the Clean Power Plan’s Costs to the Country

National Mining Association (NMA) president and CEO Hal Quinn issued the following statement today after new information from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Oct. 26 Cross State Air Pollution Rule Update confirmed the significant impact that the Clean Power Plan will have on coal-based generation:

“NMA informed the D.C. Circuit yesterday that data from EPA’s final Cross State Air Pollution Rule unmistakably acknowledges what NMA and other petitioners have argued: that the Clean Power Plan’s (CPP) forced retirements of coal-based capacity will be steep, dropping coal-based capacity for electricity generation by at least 20 percent. The agency had previously suggested this capacity would be lost anyway even without the CPP. But last week the agency included this capacity in its base case, showing it has not disappeared on its own, but will be part of the capacity forced into retirement by the CPP.

“A miscalculation of this magnitude contributes to the growing suspicion that EPA systematically overlooks or ignores the economic costs that its regulations are imposing on the country. Previously, EPA grossly underestimated coal plant retirements from its Mercury Air Toxins Standards rule. Earlier this month a federal district court ruled that the agency had an ongoing obligation to assess the job impacts of its regulations.”

A copy of NMA’s filing with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit can be accessed here.

See the release here.

Denying the Costs of Coal Regulations

Via The Middlesboro Daily News:

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.