‘Coal is toast’ if Obama gains a second term

Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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President Obama has expressed support for clean coal technologies, saying his administration has invested heavily in the technology, even though his administration has been accused of waging a “war on coal.”

“With respect to something like coal, we made the largest investment in clean coal technology, to make sure that even as we’re producing more coal, we’re producing it cleaner and smarter,” Obama said during the second presidential debate.

However, if Obama wins a second term, “coal is toast,” says Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research.

Based on the Obama administration’s past actions, stricter EPA standards are likely to continue if he wins a second term, Pyle told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Those stricter have contributed to the planned shutdown of more than 200 coal-fired generators across 25 states, reports the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. Coal mining companies and miners saw 9,000 mining jobs were lost in October, with mining employment decreasing by 17,000 jobs since May of this year.

“Romney will try to slow the pace of the EPA’s jurisdiction and some of the regulations that have been proposed,” said Kevin Massy, associate director of the Brookings Institution’s Energy Security Initiative.

“He’s going to have a hard time overturning some of the EPA regulations that have now determined to be… law,” Massy said, “but some of the ones that are pending, he may be able to weaken or loosen them.”

One such regulation that Romney could change is the the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS), which limit their emissions of toxic air pollutants like mercury, arsenic and metals emitted from power plants and is estimated to cost $10.2 billion.

“Under Romney, there’s not likely to be a great deal of change to the rule, but there may be some waivers and enforcement of it could be more lenient than under Obama,” said Massy in regards to MATS.

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which was recently struck down in federal court, is estimated to cost $853 million for CSAPR, and could be the one policy with the greatest amount of difference, according to Massy.

“I think under Obama that would come back, probably reinstated in 2014, and under Romney there may be a reinterpretation of it or modification of it,” said Massy. “CASPR might be the one where the greatest EPA policy difference will be seen.”

According to recent research by IER, more than 10 percent of the country’s coal-fired capacity will be lost due to CSAPR and MATS.

A report by National Economic Research Associates (NERA) examining seven major EPA regulations on coal-fueled electric generation found that EPA regulations will contribute to shutdowns of up to 69,000 megawatts of coal-fueled electric generation and job losses of up to 887,000 jobs per year, with annual costs as high as $16.7 billion per year.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe has also warned of an unfettered EPA if Obama is granted a second term.

“[I]t’s pretty clear that if President Obama secures a second term, the Obama-EPA will have a very busy next four years, moving full speed ahead to implement numerous major rules and regulations that he has delayed or punted due to the upcoming election,” reads a report by Inhofe.

“We will see energy prices continue to go up as a result of these policies,” Pyle added.

Romney has also expressed his support for coal, and has championed regulatory reforms to scale back regulations that “bankrupt” the coal industry and has advocated for a regulatory freeze.

“I was in coal country. People grabbed my arms and said, ‘Please save my job.’ The head of the EPA said, ‘You can’t build a coal plant… [I]t’s virtually impossible given our regulations.’” Romney said in the second debate, attacking the administration for its alleged “war on coal.”

Romney has also been attacked for standing in front of a coal plant  as governor of Massachusetts and saying it “kills people.” Romney never shut down the coal plant and it is still open today.

“[Y]ou stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, ‘This plant kills,’ and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly you’re a big champion of coal,” Obama said.

However, there is also the danger of a slew of regulations that will be finished after the election. regulators will have a narrow window to implement in case of a Romney victory.

The Washington Examiner reported that more than 50 EPA staffers are scrambling to finish new greenhouse gas emission standards that would make building coal-fired power plants virtually impossible.

“The bureaucrats are clearly in a hurry to get this done,” the Examiner reports. “Never before has the EPA devoted so many staffers to a single regulation. Take it as a sign of pre-election panic by environmentalists inside the Obama administration.”

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