Washington, D.C. - Seven U.S. governors have written individually to President Barack Obama and his administration, calling on him to block a proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that would effectively shutter coal-fired power generation plants and prevent construction of new ones.
These Democrat and Republican state leaders voiced concerns that the proposed new source performance standard (NSPS) for greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by new fossil fuel-based electric generation plants will drive up electricity costs for households and businesses and depress employment as the nation continues its economic recovery. Moreover, they argued, the NSPS rule is unnecessary in light of developing technologies and economically infeasible until they become commercially available.
“It is imperative that abundant natural resources such as coal continue to be available to meet our base load electricity needs,” declared Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett. “I am convinced that we can achieve this goal, while lowering emissions. Significant technological advancements in generating plant efficiency and emission capture and reduction are within reach, but need regulatory flexibility that does not discriminate against our own home-grown energy resources if they are to be achieved.”
The governors also highlighted the economic damage the EPA’s NSPS rule would impose on their states and emphasized their support for comprehensive energy solutions:
“I believe that our nation is best served by an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy that incorporates all forms of energy,” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence wrote to the president. “We need our wind, solar, nuclear, natural gas and coal resources to power our economy and provide the quality of life Hoosiers and other Americans are accustomed to experiencing. Indiana is one of the top manufacturing states in the country,” Gov. Pence added, and “our competitive edge is in jeopardy as emissions standards, like those proposed by the EPA, drive up the cost of producing electricity.”
Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear noted in his letter to EPA that these rules pose a direct threat to American jobs by raising electricity rates, writing that “in Kentucky, which is primarily a manufacturing state with many energy-intensive industries, we estimate job losses in the industrial sector to be significant with even moderate increases in electricity rates. These industries supply the automobiles and appliances used by citizens in New York, California and other states that are not manufacturing-intensive.”
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant urged the president “to consider an alternative approach intended to address GHG emissions in a way that will not harm Mississippi’s economy or endanger the affordable electricity supply the residents of my state need to live and prosper.”
Other state chief executives writing to the White House in support of a new approach have been Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox.
“Political and business leaders in America’s heartland are increasingly aware of the threats posed by these ill-advised regulations proposed by the EPA,” said Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association. “The governors calling on President Obama to change EPA’s course understand that America needs to retain a diverse array of fuels for power generation. The nation’s energy future and continued emissions reductions is found in advanced technology, including those that will make coal even cleaner than the 80 percent emissions reductions that have been achieved since 1990 The promise of even cleaner coal means stable pricing and reliability and ensures that coal will be a significant component of our nation’s energy portfolio for years to come.”
The EPA’s proposed NSPS rule establishes a standard unprecedented under the Clean Air Act and is clearly designed to favor power generation with natural gas to the exclusion of coal-fired production. It would effectively ban construction of new coal-fired power plants by requiring that any new fossil-fueled generation (coal or gas) emit less than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour.
Coal currently is used to produce 40 percent of the nation’s electricity, with some states far more dependent on coal for power (for instance, 97 percent in West Virginia). Utility companies have long relied on coal due to its historically stable and low cost and domestic availability given the nation’s 250-year reserve of coal. The EPA’s proposed rule would deny Americans the use of its most abundant energy resource.