The coal industry is a pretty big deal in several states that could serve as electoral battlefields next year. Kentucky is among them.
Even though Democrats believe that have a chance to pickoff Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell next year, President Barack Obama handed him a huge gift last week when he rolled out his anti-consumer energy plan, which is being labeled by opponents as a “war on coal.” Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, another coal producing state, took it even further, calling President Obama’s a plan a “war on America.”
McConnell is seizing on President Obama’s energy plan, which completely bypasses Congress. In an op-ed to the Hazard Herald, a Kentucky-based newspaper, the Senate Minority Leader slammed the “barrage of job-killing regulations” pushed by the Obama Administration and warned Democrats of alienating “entire regions of the country” with the new environmental regulations.
Just in time for Christmas, Washington has a gift for all of you feeling the joy and optimism of the season… a giant, economy killing, power grab by the EPA. Rejoice! Rejoice! The polar bears will continue to thrive while Americans suffer record unemployment and poverty!
In a perfectly timed press release, the EPA announced their intention to begin limiting emissions from coal-fired power plants to combat so-called climate change late last night. While most people aren’t going to pay much attention to this story, it’s going to have significant affects for all of us. Almost half of the electricity generated in this country comes from coal-fired power plants, so even if your personal power bill doesn’t see an immediate and significant increase, you can certainly expect the price of many of your “Made in the USA” products to increase substantially. Until the exact provisions are released to the public, however, we can only speculate how much this massive power grab is going to cost each of us, but know that it is going to cost you.
Obviously, if these regulations are adopted, they certainly aren’t something that will aid our economic recovery, to say the least. It is going to be sadly interesting, however, to see how detrimental these new regulations will be to the economic recovery in specific regions of the country. For example, why would a company that is building a new factory ever consider an area where the cost of electricity has been artificially and unnecessarily inflated by the geniuses in Washington?
Whenever I drive past the local coal miners union’s meeting house, I’m amazed at the plethora of Obama signs littering their front yard. I realize that unions traditionally vote Democrat, but Obama’s energy policies will put a lot of these union workers out of a job.
Then again, McCain’s energy policy is not any better.
Republican members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation have filed an amicus brief in a pending case at the Supreme Court which could have big implications on the Commonwealth’s coal industry and, by extension, its economy.
The case, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, deals with regulations enacted by the Obama Administration in 2010 that would impose stricter limits on emissions from “stationary sources,” such as coal-fired plants. The EPA claims this authority through a 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, which allowed the agency to regulate vehicle emissions.
The problem is that the EPA essentially re-wrote provisions of the Clean Air Act to raise the emissions threshold to 75,000 tons per year from 100 tons, which, as the Wall Street Journal recently noted, “would require some six million buildings to get environmental permits, including such grand polluters as churches and farms.”
“Recognizing that such a rule would create ‘absurd results’ like shuttering the entire economy, the EPA rewrote Congress’s numbers and adjusted the threshold to 75,000 tons from 100 tons,” the Journal explained. “EPA’s clear political purpose was to escape a large political backlash to its new rules by unilaterally limiting their reach.”
Kentucky Republicans argue that the EPA has overstepped its bounds by trying to re-write the law, thus usurping power from the legislative branch, and promulgate new rules that would hurt the coal industry.
President Barack Obama’s ideal clean coal plant is an expensive boondoggle that is causing consumers rates to skyrocket, long before its expected to come online. But this is only highlights one part of this administration’s agenda.
The push away from coal and nuclear energy and the focus on renewable energy in Germany has caused energy rates to rise, causing politicians to worry about the country’s international competitiveness:
The leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) said on Friday a new government must move quickly to rein in rising energy costs in order to safeguard the competitiveness of German industry.
Speaking a day after the SPD leadership agreed to enter formal coalition negotiations with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, Gabriel called Germany’s renewable energy law (EEG) an impediment to a successful exit from nuclear power.
“The EEG was a wonderful law when we wanted to support new technologies to make them competitive. Today, in its current form, it is the biggest obstacle for the energy shift,” Gabriel said in a speech at a union event in Hanover.
“We need to ensure that renewable energy is affordable. And we need to put an end to the idea that we can pull out of nuclear and coal simultaneously. This won’t work.”
The exact policies may not necessarily be the same as those being pursued in the United States by the Obama Administration, but the basic point and end goals are almost identical.
A power plant in Mississippi that has been touted as an example of new clean coal technology has turned into a financial boondoggle for the Southern Company and ratepayers in the area, according to the Wall Street Journal, and that it could dissuade other power companies from taking similar projects (emphasis added):
Mississippi Power Co.’s Kemper County plant here, meant to showcase technology for generating clean electricity from low-quality coal, ranks as one of the most-expensive U.S. fossil-fuel projects ever—at $4.7 billion and rising. Mississippi Power’s 186,000 customers, who live in one of the poorest regions of the country, are reeling at double-digit rate increases. And even Mississippi Power’s parent, Atlanta-based Southern Co., has said Kemper shouldn’t be used as a nationwide model.
Meanwhile, the plant hasn’t generated a single kilowatt for customers, and it’s anyone’s guess how well the complex operation will work. The company this month said it would forfeit $133 million in federal tax credits because it won’t finish the project by its May deadline.
One of just three clean-coal plants moving ahead in the U.S., Kemper has been such a calamity for Southern that the power industry and Wall Street analysts say other utilities aren’t likely to take on similar projects, even though the federal government plans to offer financial incentives.
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.”
Not only are labor union leaders revolting against President Barack Obama over his ill-conceived healthcare law, they’re also pushing back over environmental regulations against coal plants.
In a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Raymond Ventrone, business manager of Boilermakers Local 154, slammed the Environmental Protection Agency’s “anti-coal agenda and noted that the new regulations are hurting the workers that he represents.
“Just three years ago, hundreds of construction workers and boilermakers from Local 154 installed state-of-the-art pollution control equipment on a 1,700 megawatt coal-fired power plant,” wrote Ventrone, who represents 2,000 workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. “More than $500 million was invested in this plant, proving that coal and clean air were not mutually exclusive.”
“Now, those breakthrough technological upgrades — approved by the Environmental Protection Agency only three years ago — have been deemed insufficient by the very same agency by virtue of new regulations created without a vote in Congress or input from the public,” he explained, adding that the anti-coal regulations have forced two Western Pennsylvania coal plants out of business.
Ventrone sees the anti-coal regulations as an attack on his members way of life, noting that they’ve been maligned as they earn an honest living. He also pointed out that environmental gains have been made even as coal usage increased substantially.
Back in June, President Barack Obama’s delivered a big speech to announcing new initiatives and regulations to combat climate change. Among the policies, which be enacted through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was tighter regulations on the coal industry.
President Obama has already taken steps to ensure that new coal plants meet strict environmental regulations, though older plants were initially spared. But the new standards set by the administration will result in the closing down of those older plants, which will hinder the United States’ power grid and significant job losses.
But to put the war on coal into perspective, Ashe Schow points to a recent report from Reuters showing that 207 coal plants will shut down over the next 10 years, a loss of nearly a third of all coal plants in the country:
President Obama’s apparent “war on coal” will result in 207 coal plants shuttering their doors over the next decade or so, according to Reuters.
Since President Barack Obama rolled out his energy plan on Tuesday, there have been a substanial backlash from members of Congress who represent coal-producing states.
New regulations that will be put in place through President Obama’s plan would result in the closing down on older coal plants, which many believe will weaken America’s energy grid, making it less reliable.
Among the loudest voices against the plan is Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who once made waves when he fired a bullet through President Obama’s cap-and-trade bill in a campaign ad. During an interview with CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, Manchin said that Obama has declared a “war on jobs” and a “war on America” with his new energy plan.
“How [Obama] forgot how this country’s gotten where its gotten to now — the coal that’s really produced the energy for this country for so long. It’s defended this country, it’s made the steel that built the guns and ships and factories, and all of a sudden disregarded like that when they’re still depending, Larry, they’ll be depending on coal through 2040,” Manchin told Kudlow. “That’s his own Energy Department, EIA’s estimates. That’s 35% of our energy. I don’t know where it’s gonna come from. It’s gonna drive the price up, unbelieveable, and on top of that, thousands and thousands of jobs.”
“This is not just a war on coal, it’s a war on jobs, it’s a war on America,” he said.