EPA: Obama coal regulations won’t curb emissions

As is the case with most regulations designed to deal with climate change, President Barack Obama’s new anti-coal regulations won’t do much to curb emissions, according to an analysis released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA report, Regulatory Impact Analysis for the Proposed Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions for New Stationary Sources, notes that the regulatory agency “anticipates that the proposed EGU New Source GHG Standards will result in negligible CO2 emission changes, energy impacts, quantified benefits, costs, and economic impacts by 2022.”

“Accordingly, the EPA also does not anticipate this rule will have any impacts on the price of electricity, employment or labor markets, or the US economy,” the agency claimed in the analysis.

The new regulations only apply to new natural and coal plants, though President Obama has also pushed regulations on existing coal plants through executive and regulatory fiat. Those regulations are expected to increase energy prices and hurt workers at coal-fired plants, which led Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and other members of Congress from states where coal plays a role in their economies to say that the White House has “declared war on coal.”

But Jonathan Adler notes that the EPA isn’t taking into account lost economic benefits now that coal-fired plants that won’t be built thanks to the new regulations.

“What then could be the benefit of the rule? According to the EPA, should market conditions change, the rule could prevent the construction of high-emitting coal plants,” wrote Adler at National Review. “As a consequence, the EPA suggests, the rule will encourage investment in carbon-capture and sequestration technology that could enable coal-fired plants to comply with the rule.”

“Of course, if the rule could prevent the construction of coal-fired plants, then it could have economic costs,” he added. “The EPA cannot have it both ways.”

The carbon-capture and sequestration technology (CCS) that the EPA will hopes that new coal-plants will use is costly and its results are questionable. The EPA is trying to do here is, ultimately, create a market for CCS technology, which they hope will make it more feasible.

“You have to love EPA’s circular logic. Through the regulatory process, it wants to push a technology that is supposedly “feasible” in order to incentivize its innovation in order to make it feasible,” wrote Sean Hackbarth at FreeEnterprise.com.

“The fact is, while CCS has promise, experts acknowledge that it is decades away from economic viability. Norway provided the latest example when it announced that it will stop funding the Mongstad CCS project,” he added. “A regulation declaring CCS technology mature will not make it so. This is poor policymaking for sure.”

While the agency is moving forward with these and other policies, there is going to be a bipartisan push in the Senate to combat President Obama and the EPA’s new regulations, likely led by a couple of red state Democrats. But green energy companies that stand to benefit from the new regulations will likely fight them tooth and nail.

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