Report: EPA regulations could mean 887,000 jobs lost per year

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Environmental Protection Agency regulations will contribute to projected shutdowns of up to 69,000 megawatts of coal-fueled electric generation and job losses of up to 887,000 jobs per year, according to a report.

Total compliance costs for the electric sector could be up to $220 billion, with annual costs as high as $16.7 billion per year.

The report by National Economic Research Associates (NERA) examined the impact of seven major EPA regulations on coal-fueled electric generation. NERA did not use any “worst case” assumptions in its analysis.

The report looked at the the Mercury Air Toxics Standards, regional haze, national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ozone and sulfur dioxide and fine particulate matter, section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act, and coal combustion residuals.

The findings were that 54,000 MW and 69,000 MW of coal-fueled generation will be shut down, mostly due to EPA regulations. Compliance costs for the electric sector will total between $15 billion and $16.7 billion per year. However, compliance costs could be between $36 billion and $44 billion in peak years.

EPA regulations also contribute to job losses averaging 544,000 per year to 887,000 per year, according to the study. However, peak year job losses could be between 700,000 to 2.2 million.

In coal-heavy regions including  Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana of the country peak year job losses run between 354,000 to over 1 million. these regions could also experience peak year losses in family income ranging up to $1,600 per household.

Nationwide the average loss in disposable income ranges from more than $200 per household to more than $500 per household, with peak year loss in family income up to $700 per household.

The study was commissioned by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

The coal industry has been hit hard this year, seeing many coal mines and generators announce planned shutdowns, with many blaming EPA regulatory policies.

Recently, Coal company Alpha Natural Resources announced it was laying off 1,200 workers and closing eight coal mines, partly due to “a regulatory environment that’s aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal.”

In the wake of this announcement House Republicans passed the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012 which prohibited the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, contained an alternative to EPA rules for coal ash disposal and management, and restricted the Interior Department from issuing regulations regarding surface mining operations, among other provisions.

The bill is seen as dead-on-arrival in the Democratic-held Senate. However, EPA regulations on coal have angered Democrats as well as Republicans.

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin recently aired a campaign ad where he says he’d “take on anyone who tries to stop us,” from developing coal and natural gas resources in his state. And Indiana Democratic Senate candidate Joe Donnelly embraced a the Stop the War on Coal Act, distancing himself from President Obama and the EPA on coal policy.

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