The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed on Tuesday new carbon dioxide emissions standards that threaten to drive up utility costs, “crush jobs,” and “destroy economic recovery,” according to National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn.
“[The] EPA’s proposal for controlling greenhouse gas emissions from about half the nation’s electric power supply is a poorly disguised cap-and-tax scheme that represents energy and economic policy at its worst,” Quinn said in a statement.
The regulations will limit the emissions from new coal-based plants (as opposed to plants that existed before the drafting of the proposal). This, of course, will discourage entrepreneurs from establishing and building new power plants. And although the proposed regulations don’t specifically dictate which fuels a plant can and can’t burn, the rules still require new coal plants to match the dioxide emissions from more their “more efficient” gas-powered cousins, according to Reuters.
“The proposed rule…will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced,” the Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin writes. “The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.”
As mentioned in the above, these emissions standards are supposedly meant for only new plants. However, the regulations could set the stage for the EPA to come after existing plants in the coming years, Reuters notes.
“We’re putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American made technology to tackle a challenge that we can’t leave to our kids and grandkids,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a release.
In order to meet the EPA’s new emissions standards, coal-based power plants have been encouraged to invest in equipment that captures carbon emissions and buries them underground for “permanent storage.” But there’s a catch: carbon capture and storage technology isn’t yet “commercially available,” according to the coal industry.
“Supporters of the rules argue that the industry has been moving away from coal and towards natural gas because of low prices and abundant supply,” Reuters reports.
“The portion of U.S. electricity fired by coal has slipped from about 50 percent to 45 percent in the last few years as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and other drilling techniques have allowed access to vast new domestic supplies of natural gas,” the report adds.
This leads us to the natural-gas option…The response might be, “Well, okay, Obama’s bankrupting the coal industry, but we can still use natural gas.” That’s only true if we can get the natural gas. The EPA has also begun blocking the use of hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, which allows for massive improvement in extraction and access to vast amounts of natural gas.
“The bottom line for our country is that cleaner power will cut harmful carbon dioxide pollution, protect our children and help secure a safe prosperous future,” said Vickie Patton, the general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund.
Oh, but here’s the best part: none of these new EPA climate rules need to be approved by Congress.
“After Congress refused to pass carbon caps, the administration insisted there were other ways to skin the cat, and this is another way — by setting a standard deliberately calculated to drive affordable coal out of the electricity market,” NMA spokesman Luke Popovich told the Washington Post.
NMA president Quinn echoed these sentiment in a searing statement:
Higher utility bills and fewer jobs are the only certain outcomes from this reckless attempt to override Congress’s repeated refusal to enact punitive caps on carbon dioxide emissions.
Requiring coal-based power plants to meet an emissions standard based on natural gas technology is a policy overtly calculated to destroy a significant portion of America’s electricity supply. This is a movie we have seen before, and the script remains unchanged. Volatile natural gas prices will, once again, expose millions of households to higher utility bills, threaten hundreds of thousands of workers with unemployment and weaken both the competitiveness of basic industries and the reliability of the nation’s electricity grid.
This proposal is the latest convoy in EPA’s regulatory train wreck that is rolling across America, crushing jobs and arresting our economic recovery at every stop. It is not an “all of the above” energy strategy; it does not create jobs; and it does not make it easier for Americans to pay their mortgages. Instead, the proposed New Source Performance Standards would deliberately push America to abandon coal, its most abundant and reliable energy source in favor of costlier fuels—even though Congress has repeatedly rejected this policy.
“If you thought gas prices will never stop rising, just wait until you see what happens to electricity after the Barack Obama’s EPA gets its way,” Ed Morrissey writes.