By John M. Stilley
Pennsylvania’s utilities, coal companies, employees and ratepayers are bracing for the publication of EPA’s final rule on greenhouse gas emissions set for this summer.
On behalf of my 120 employees and their families, I am hopeful that the EPA will consider the 1.6 million comments submitted during the open comment period, including those of opposition from Pennsylvania lawmakers, Public Utility Commission and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Pennsylvania DEP forecasts that if the proposed rule is enacted as written, it will cut coal consumption by Pennsylvania’s electric utilities by about 70 percent, dropping from 33 million tons to a little over 10 million tons and undermining Pennsylvania’s position as an energy leader and exporter.
To destroy 70 percent of the coal industry is to destroy a sizable portion of the 36,000 jobs statewide that it supports, the more than $4 billion it provides to Pennsylvania’s economy annually and the baseload electricity necessary to keep electric rates low and attract businesses and manufacturing to the Commonwealth.
I applaud Congressman Mike Kelly, R-Pa., for acting on behalf of the men and women who elected him by cosponsoring the Ratepayer Protection Act of 2015 introduced last month by Congressman Whitfield, R-Ky.
This proposal would allow governors to reject the Clean Power Plan if they determine it will adversely affect their resident’s electric bills or their state’s electric reliability – which it will.
While the EPA promises that there will be enough electricity to maintain demand, the actual grid operators, utilities and public utility commissions have publicly opposed these rules stating there is not enough time to develop sufficient resources to meet demand and will result in double digit electric rate increases.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, an international regulatory authority established to evaluate and improve the reliability bulk power systems in North America stated, “The proposed timeline does not provide enough time to develop sufficient resources to ensure continued reliable operation of the electric grid by 2020. To attempt to do so would increase the use of controlled load shedding and potential for wide-scale, uncontrolled outages.”
Congressman Kelly is joined by elected officials across the country from both sides of the aisle concerned for their constituents.
The EPA is facing lawsuits and opposition from governors in 18 states, attorney generals in 22 states, the Public Utility Commission in 13 states, the Department of Environmental Quality in 21 states and legislative action in 18 states.
To date, this is the foremost demonstration of federal overreach, forcing a state energy policy disguised as environmental regulation. It has brought together bipartisan opposition at every level.
The unfortunate reality is that even if these commonsense measures were to succeed in overturning the EPA’s rule, the uncertainty created by the Obama Administration has caused stalled investments in research and development for carbon technology.
Because of the lack of available technology, these proposed greenhouse gas regulations are unachievable in the timeframe mandated.
Coal-fired power plants have already decreased other emissions by 85 percent per electric unit – meeting and exceeding past EPA regulated air quality emissions mandated by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. This past track record of achieving standards demonstrate government and industry working together to set realistic goals so that the industry can continue to evolve and progress.
The global coal market is growing and the U.S. is unique that it has the capability to develop coal responsibly.
We are the only nation that has reduced its carbon emissions in the last decade.
There is opportunity to position our nation to export, profit and build our economy with coal as the foundation to become a global energy producer, exporter and leader.
Instead of picking energy winners and losers, the EPA should be working with the industry to establish attainable goals.
We are blessed with an abundance of this domestic resource and our government should encourage the continued responsible process of industry development for extraction and production.
John M. Stilley is president of Amerikohl Mining Inc. in Butler, Pa.
See the article here.
- On May 29, 2015