New EPA rules incites reactions

Debbie Rolen drolen@civitasmedia.com

September 22, 2013

The Environmental Protection Agency is officially proposing new limits on carbon-dioxide emissions from all future power plants built in the United States as part of the Obama administration’s second-term climate plan.

The new EPA rules, which will take a year to finalize, impose limits on carbon emissions from all future coal and natural-gas plants to be built. Emissions from existing power plants will be addressed later.

The limits on future coal plants are stringent enough that it could mean very few new coal plants will be built for decades to come. There haven’t been many built recently anyway because cheap natural gas has made them uneconomical.

Several legislators, officials and coal companies have expressed their concerns about the new rules and the effect they feel it will have on the industry.

Alpha Natural Resources is a large American producer of metallurgical and thermal coal. It also provides services relating to equipment repairs, road construction and logistics. Alpha released the following statement:

“We were hopeful that the Administration would offer a sensible proposal that doesn’t adversely impact jobs, the economy and the consumer, but that didn’t happen. Their proposal imposes unrealistic mandates for unproven and uneconomical technologies and removes incentives to invest in developing the new technologies needed to achieve the Administration’s target emission goals.

Ultimately these restrictions will adversely impact innovation, jobs, the economy and eventually every consumer. And it sacrifices this in the name of negligible environmental benefits. It’s our belief that the standards will harm rather than protect America’s energy future.”

Arch Coal, one of the world’s top coal producers for the global steel and power generation industries released the following statement:

“The coal-based generation industry has made tremendous progress in reducing emissions in recent years – with non-greenhouse-gas emissions per unit of coal consumed down 90 percent since 1970,” said Arch Coal Senior Vice President of Strategy and Public Policy Deck S. Slone. “The newest coal plants far exceed even those reductions, and also have lower greenhouse gas emissions due to their higher efficiency levels.

“We believe that coal plants with near-zero greenhouse gas emissions will be achievable in time, but such technology is simply not available today,” said Slone. “The Administration’s proposal goes way too far, way too fast – and threatens to arrest rather than spur technology advances. With the world’s fastest growing economies continuing to build their economies on coal, it makes no sense for the United States – which possesses the world’s largest coal reserves – to erect barrier after barrier to coal use. In doing so, we are ensuring America higher power prices, lower economic growth and reduced international competitiveness – and effectively foreclosing on our ability to use this affordable, secure and reliable fuel in the future.”

With more than 9,000 employees, CONSOL Energy Inc. is the leading diversified energy producer in the Appalachian basin. Named one of America’s most admired companies by Fortune magazine, CONSOL Energy produces both natural gas and high-BTU coal. Together, natural gas and coal fuel two-thirds of the nation’s power. CONSOL released the following statement :

“As you know, today the EPA unveiled punitive CO2 limits here in the United States, which will result in fewer choices to fuel our country. Below for your use in writing your story about today’s announcement is CONSOL Energy’s statement.

This is a dangerous and unnecessary action at a time when the U.S. continues to sluggishly inch toward economic recovery. The President is legislating through regulatory bodies on an issue where Congress and the American people have repeatedly rejected his chosen path. Poll after poll shows that the public prioritizes jobs, the economy and skyrocketing debt as the defining issues of our time, yet the administration continues to move in a direction that will have no measurable impact on the stated goal of reductions in global CO2 concentrations and will only exacerbate the issues where American’s are demanding leadership by putting our most abundant and affordable domestic resource on the sidelines.”

Statement by W.Va. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey:

“Our Office is very concerned about the Environmental Protection Agency’s new emission rules that would effectively ban new coal-fired power plants. The agency’s proposal sets new standards of approxsimately 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour – standards that represent a massive reduction from current practices.

Coal is a critical component of our naton’s electrical grid and out state’s economy. Our state is the second largest producer of coal, and this move by the EPA basically slams the door on coal as a long-term source of electricity and energy. It is a blatant attempt to promote a reckless agenda that picks winners and losers and puts our nation’s goal for energy independence in a tenuous position.

I’ve seen little from the White House or the EPA on what people in Boone, Marshall, Logan, Marion, Mingo, Monongalia and other counties around the state should do when their local coal mines have layoffs. Based on this proposal, I cannot see how anyone could question the EPA’s intention to take coal out of the equation. West Virginia cannot idly sit by and allow politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., to cripple our economy.

The Obama Administration has a history of overstepping its legal its legal authority to the detriment of West Virginia jobs. Our Ofice will review every word of every paragraph of every page in these regulations so that we can fight for West Virginia jobs. West Virginia will not shy away from this battle against Obama’s EPA.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin:

“Today’s announcement of the EPA’s new source performance standard is direct evidence that this Administration is trying to hold the coal industry to impossible standards. Never before has the federal government forced an industry to do something that is technologically impossible. Forcing coal to meet the same emissions standards as gas when experts know that the required technology is not operational on a commercial scale makes absolutely no sense and will have devastating impacts to the coal industry and our economy.

“It is past time that this country establishes an all-of-the-above energy policy that uses every domestic resource available to us, and that includes coal. The facts are plain and simple: Coal provides the greatest share of electricity we use, generating around 40 percent of our power. The President’s own Department of Energy predicts that coal will continue to be a major source of electricity for at least the next 30 years. It’s just common sense to level the playing field and accept that coal is, and will be for the foreseeable future, a significant part of our energy mix.

“If these regulations go into effect, American jobs will be lost, electricity prices will soar, and economic uncertainty will grow. We need the federal government to work as a partner, not an adversary, and to invest in America’s energy future. I will continue to fight EPA overreach, just as I did as Governor, to protect the reliable, affordable energy and the good-paying jobs that coal-fired power plants provide in West Virginia and across this country.”

Third District Congressman Nick Rahall:

“I am dead-set against the EPA and their scheme to issue emissions standards that would make it next to impossible for new coal-fired power plants to be constructed. In mandating that new power plants utilize technology that is not even commercially available, let alone affordable, the Agency is preventing abundant American coal from meeting America’s future energy needs. The result of this wrong-headed policy would be higher energy bills for families and businesses, reduced power reliability and energy independence for our nation, and lost jobs for our coal miners.

“This callous, ideologically driven Agency continues to be numb to the economic pain that their reckless regulations cause. Today’s rule is just the latest salvo in the EPA’s war on coal, a war I have unwaveringly soldiered against, and I will work tirelessly to prevent such an ill-conceived and illogical plan from moving forward. It is in this vein, that I am today introducing a Resolution to express Congress’ strong disapproval of this rule and I invite both Democrats and Republicans to join me in this initial effort.”

Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito:

“EPA’s action strikes at the core of West Virginia and is yet another sign that this Administration simply doesn’t care about the hard working men and women who earn their living in the coal industry, doesn’t care about providing reliable and affordable energy to power the national economy for years to come, and doesn’t care about harming the very fabric of communities across our state.

“West Virginia families and businesses have already paid a heavy price due to EPA’s overbearing regulations. We must take into account the economic impact of government regulations on local communities, and we should not take an action that hinders our nation’s ability to compete globally.

“Last night I introduced the Ensure Reliable and Affordable American Energy Act. My bill would delay the implementation of these new EPA regulations until other countries comprising at least 80 percent of non-U.S. global carbon dioxide emissions enact regulations that are at least as stringent as EPA’s new standards.

“Blocking the use our domestic coal reserves while our global competitors use our coal to power their own economic growth means that America will be forced to compete globally with one arm tied behind our back. West Virginians know that an energy economy is a jobs economy and our state will unite to fight the Administration tooth and nail.”