The Environmental Protection Agency today in Denver held one of 11 so-called “listening sessions” to help the “EPA develop smart, cost-effective guidelines” to limit carbon emissions for a June 2014 proposal. In case you can’t translate the EPA’s heavily coded verbiage, these sessions are designed to garner input for new coal emission standards and to impose new regulations on the coal industry.
There are a few problems with the alleged listening session campaign.
1) The EPA is asking for ideas from “the public and stakeholders about the best Clean Air Act approaches to reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants.” Unfortunately, the EPA is holding these sessions in 11 cities, including San Francisco; Boston; Seattle; New York City; Atlanta; Chicago; Washington, DC; Dallas; Philadelphia; and Lenexa, KS, in addition to Denver. So, in other words, the listening sessions are primarily taking place in locations devoid of coal producers. If not the coal producers, who would be a larger stakeholder in these listening sessions? This is their livelihood.
2) Then, the EPA notes that it’s looking for cost effective solutions. Cost-effective for whom? Coal is the most abundant and least expensive fuel in the United States. Any additional regulation will increase the cost of coal production, which will increase energy bills for millions of middle- and low-income Coloradans. There are 40 million Americans who earn less than $30,000 per year and already spend 20% of their finances on energy. These low-income families already pay, proportionally, nine times more for their energy than the majority of wealthy households. How much more should they spend?
3) Finally, the EPA wants to regulate this industry, driving costs up – how would that impact jobs? The coal industry provides over three-quarters of a million jobs in the United States. Those jobs support economies often in rural areas. When a large employer in a rural area has to lay off workers, it impacts the entire community from the amount of tax revenue the workers contribute to the system to the disposable income they provide to the local economy.
If the EPA genuinely cared about reducing coal emissions it would leverage new technologies and innovation to reduce coal-fueled power plant emissions. For example, the coal industry has invested over $100 billion to reduce emissions using supercritical technology. Plants with this technology have approximately 80% fewer emissions than older plants. But, these additional regulations aren’t just about reducing coal power plant emissions.
In 2008, when now-President Obama was running for office, he told the San Francisco Chronicle during an editorial board meeting that his plans for energy development would bankrupt the coal industry: