The War on Coal: The EPA’s Latest Proposal Could End Coal’s Role in Electricity Production

Electricity costs, if the EPA’s proposed new rule comes to fruition, will skyrocket.  The Heritage Foundation reports that for the first time ever, the EPA has classified carbon dioxide as a “pollutant.”  By way of carbon emissions regulations, they are pursuing limits which are expected to usher in the end of coal’s role in electricity production.

Rob Barnett of Bloomberg, in a new report, has said that, “new coal plants would effectively be banned because their emission rate is almost double that of the proposed standard.”

And, coal is the least expensive source of electricity says the Energy Information Administration.

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What’s more, a study, conducted by NERA demonstrates that EPA’s policies could very well add $52 billion to the electric bills of US citizens.

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Another weapon in the EPA’s war on coal is the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) ruleFreedomWorks reports:

“The Utility MACT would tie the hands of energy providers and force them into investments in excess of $350 billion industry wide just to reach 90 percent compliance with the rule. These costs will drive energy costs higher for many Americans, but will have an especially harsh impact on the Midwest and lower income households. Households making less than $50,000 a year already pay roughly 21 percent of their after-tax incomes on energy costs and the Utility MACT could elevate costs by at least $10 billion annually by 2016. The massive costs of compliance could also force almost 15 gigawatts off of the electricity grid, laying off thousands directly, millions indirectly and threatening the reliability of electricity.”

But, if Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) has his way, the MACT rule will be nullified.  Inhofe introduced a Senate resolution which was finalized in December.  If the resolution is able to get 30 pledges of support from the Senate, under Congressional rules it has to be put on the Senate calendar for a vote.  Then, what would be needed to overturn the MACT rule is a majority vote by the full Senate.

Some electricity companies have already made public their plans to close several coal-fired power plants.  If that happens, it will impact jobs and electricity costs.  It would also, according to the West Virginia Coal Association, compromise the stability of the US electricity grid by forcing the closure of approximately 68 coal-fired plants–plants that supply baseload power to US business and homes.

Senator Infhofe has said that

“… this rule isn’t about public health. It is a thinly veiled electricity tax that continues the Obama Administration’s war on affordable energy and is the latest in an unprecedented barrage of regulations that make up EPA’s job-killing regulatory agenda.”

The president of the West Virginia Coal Association asserts that the rule is “nothing more than another part of President Obama’s stated intent to end the use of coal for electricity generation.”  He elaborates, saying, “Before he even took office, he pledged to bankrupt the coal industry. He said prices for electricity would skyrocket. Obama has kept his promise. Now it’s time for Senators, especially from coal-dependent states, to put their constituents’ well-being ahead of party loyalty. We are calling on Senators Rockefeller and Manchin to stand up and make their voices heard. We urge them to support the Inhofe Resolution. The EPA itself estimated the Utility MACT rule will cost about $10 billion a year.”

Regarding the fiscal impact of the rule, Raney said that, “the EPA itself estimated the Utility MACT rule will cost about $10 billion a year.  Does anyone doubt these added costs will be passed on to consumers and businesses? This war on coal is not an attack against industry, it is an attack on hardworking Americans. With gasoline prices already stretching family budgets, the last thing middle, low and fixed income households need are skyrocketing electricity rates.”  He added that, “a recent study by the Americans for Clean Coal Electricity found that energy costs for half of American households have almost doubled since 2001 taking 20 percent of their after tax income.  Lower-income Americans are hit harder and are least able to handle the additional economic burden from the EPA’s new regulations.”

-Candice Lanier