The coal industry is crying foul over new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations which they say will be among the most be costly rules ever imposed by the agency on coal-fueled power plants.
The result, industry insiders say: substantially higher electricity rates and massive job loss.
“The EPA is ignoring the cumulative economic damage new regulations will cause,” said Steve Miller, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). “America’s coal-fueled electric industry has been doing its part for the environment and the economy, but our industry needs adequate time to install clean coal technologies to comply with new regulations. Unfortunately, EPA doesn’t seem to care.”
Thursday the EPA announced that they have finalized additional Clean Air Act provisions, collectively known as “The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule” to ostensibly “reduce air pollution and attain clean air standards,” by requiring coal companies in 27 states to slash emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide by 73 percent and 54 percent, respectively, from 2005 levels by 2014.
According to the EPA, these emissions travel across state lines and contribute to ozone and fine particle pollution.
The rule will replace a similar 2005 standard called the Clean Air Interstate Rule. EPA claims that the new rule will result in a savings of $120 to $280 billion in annual health and environmental benefits, and also save between 13,000 and 34,000 lives. (EPA stimulating environmental regulations abroad)
While the EPA’s alleged benefits are lofty, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton cautioned that the new rules will come with a hefty price.
“The goal for these rules should be reasonable regulation that protects public health and the environment while also preserving economic growth. Unfortunately, the unprecedented pace at which the administration is issuing major new rules that impose new costs and regulatory requirements on states, employers, and consumers fails that basic test,” said Upton. “By issuing multiple regulations for the energy and other sectors at such an accelerated rate, EPA has turned regulation from a manageable tool into an unpredictable moving target that makes it difficult for companies to invest and create jobs.”
The coal industry has the same practical concerns.
An analysis ACCCE released earlier this month by the National Economic Research Associates (NERA) used government data to examine the combined impacts of today’s rule and another EPA electricity regulation, the “Utility MACT” Rule. According to NERA’s examination, the EPA’s actions would cause a net job loss of over 1.4 million job-years by 2020.
Further, NERA found that electricity rates would increase over 23 percent in coal-reliant areas, and that though the EPA might claim the regulations will create jobs, for every job created four will be lost.
Nevertheless, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says the new rules will be beneficial to communities across the country. (SEC cedes leasing power after putting taxpayers on line for $550 million mistake)
“No community should have to bear the burden of another community’s polluters, or be powerless to prevent air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses. These Clean Air Act safeguards will help protect the health of millions of Americans and save lives by preventing smog and soot pollution from traveling hundreds of miles and contaminating the air they breathe,” Jackson said.
“By maximizing flexibility and leveraging existing technology, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will help ensure that American families aren’t suffering the consequences of pollution generated far from home, while allowing states to decide how best to decrease dangerous air pollution in the most cost effective way.”