White House, EPA ignore Small Business Admin’s report that new coal regulations will kill jobs, economy

Matthew Boyle | Investigative Reporter

President Barack Obama is ignoring heated concerns from within his own administration that new Environmental Protection Agency coal industry regulations will be economically devastating.

The EPA is plowing forward with new Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) mandates. The regulations would force coal energy plants to install giant scrubber-like materials inside smokestacks to capture and cleanse carbon particles before their atmospheric release.

The upgrade cost would fall on company employees and coal miners in the form of layoffs, as well as on businesses, which could expect to pay more for energy.

In a lengthy letter to EPA Director Lisa Jackson, Obama’s Small Business Administration advocacy office wrote the EPA “may have significantly understated” the economic “burden this rulemaking would impose on small entities.”

One Southern Indiana Chamber of Commerce vice president, Tonya Fischer, told The Daily Caller the entire state of Indiana would be “devastated” by these regulations. “We are definitely in opposition to [the MACT regulations] because it would be devastating for the state of Indiana.” She adds that local businesses, which are struggling with the tough economy already, would be forced to pick up the extra energy production costs Obama’s EPA is pushing. “We get 95 percent of our electricity from coal.”

“The cost to convert those facilities would be passed on to the small business owners, or basically shut them [the coal energy producing facilities] down altogether,” Fischer said. “It would become cost-prohibitive for them [local businesses] to continue paying their electricity bills.”

If the EPA regulations aren’t halted, Fischer expects unemployment numbers in Indiana to skyrocket. “This has got to affect tens of thousands of jobs in the area because, not only would you lose the employees from the coal facilities, the plants themselves would become more streamlined so you’d lose jobs there and, of course, the small and local businesses.”

Americans for Limited Government Communications Director Rick Manning told TheDC if Obama actually cared about jobs, he’d stop the EPA and Jackson from pursuing their environmentalist agenda. He also offered an ultimatum to Obama on Jackson’s future.

“The president contends that jobs are his focus,” Manning said in a phone interview. “Perhaps he should tell Lisa Jackson at the EPA. If Obama wants to send a message to business that jobs are important to this administration, he should fire Lisa Jackson immediately.”

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski believes the EPA and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) falsely implied they had worked together on an analysis of how the MACT regulations and others would affect the nation’s power supply.

“EPA’s rulemakings could have a serious impact on the affordability and reliability of our nation’s energy supply, especially given the sheer number of new regulations the agency has rolled out in such a short time period,” Murkowski wrote in a statement. ”The [FERC] commission’s staff has preliminarily estimated that up to 81 gigawatts of existing generation are ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to be retired as a consequence of new EPA rules. That’s nearly 8 percent of our installed capacity for electric generation and a retirement at that scale could have drastic consequences for many parts of our country.”

Tom Borelli, the director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project, said the EPA’s issues with the FERC and the SBA are “huge.”

“After the tragedies of 9/11, we learned that the securities administrations and agencies didn’t communicate,” Borelli said. “Now, we have the EPA and the FERC and the SBA not communicating. Obviously, it’s the EPA run wild, they’re a job killing machine and they don’t care about the consequences of their actions.”

Borelli said the White House and President Obama are responsible for the EPA’s actions and that they shouldn’t be attempting to deflect blame down the chain.

Borelli adds that bigger non-energy companies are moving operations overseas because the Obama administration regulations, especially EPA ones, make it cost too much for them to operate in the United States. “Why do you think Alcoa, which makes aluminum, of which a huge input cost is energy, why do you think they’re building in Saudi Arabia? Dow Chemical, the same thing?”

Even so, the White House press office has not given any specific responses to The Daily Caller’s questions on where Obama stands on this issue. The answers White House officials have provided don’t make it clear what Obama’s priorities are when it comes to this issue.

“President Obama has directed federal agencies to ensure that regulations protect public health, welfare, safety and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation,” White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told TheDC. But, Lehrich wouldn’t specifically answer whether Obama supports the MACT regulations that his own administration says would harm the economy.

Borelli said that if Obama cared about fixing the economy and jobs, he would stop Jackson and the EPA from promulgating more regulations onto energy companies. But, he said, like how Obamacare was rushed into law, the Obama administration and the EPA is “going as fast as they can” to get these new politically motivated regulations in place. “Common sense would dictate that in a bad economy, you don’t want to add any more uncertainty to the business environment and you certainly don’t want to make energy prices go higher,” Borelli said. “But, that’s exactly what this agenda is doing.”

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