Coal is only step one in Obama administration’s climate plan, according to industry group

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

Coal is just the first step in the Obama administration’s plan to tackle global warming, according to an industry group.

“Even though right now [Obama] says the EPA should focus on the utility industry, we all know that other segments, including the refining industry, are well in the cue,” said Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, which represents with refining industry.

The president’s plan to address global warming largely relies on executive actions to reduce U.S. carbon emissions, including setting emissions limits for new and existing power plants that would effectively ban the construction of new coal-fired power plants.

“The idea is to pick winners and losers… among domestic energy producers, but ultimately what will happen is he will pick winners and losers among nations,” Drevna told reporters in a press call on Tuesday. “And unfortunately, the United States will be in the losing category.”

The refining industry joins a growing number of industries that are fighting back against the president’s proposed plan to fight global warming.

“The EPA is not going to stop with today’s announcement,” said Jay Simmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. “First, it will be coal. Then it will be natural gas. Ultimately, this plan will make the United States less energy secure, less affordable and unable to meet our future energy needs.”

“If the Obama administration fails to recognize the environmental progress the industry has made and continues to adopt more regulations, coal power could cease to exist, which would be devastating for our economy,” said Mike Duncan, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

The coal industry has already been hit hard by stricter environmental regulations, which will contribute to the closing of more than 280 coal-fired generating units in the coming years, according to ACCCE.

Coal mines have also been targeted by federal regulators, and many federal water pollution permits required for mines to operate have been held up by regulators.

The Kentucky Coal Association reported that the federal government held up about 40 mining permits in eastern Kentucky, costing the region about 3,600 jobs in coal mines and other businesses.

However, environmentalists have claimed that Obama’s new climate plan would be good for job growth.

“To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must act now, but we must do so in a way that creates and maintains quality jobs for American workers,” said David Foster, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of unions and environmentalists.

The federal government has already piled the refining industry with regulations and mandates, including the Renewable Fuel Standard, new tailpipe emissions rules and increased fuel economy standards.

“Refiners today operate under an unprecedented amount of regulations, and they continue to mount,” Drevna added.

Industry has been pushing back on the Renewable Fuel Standard, which calls for refiners to blend 13.8 billion gallons of ethanol into the fuel supply this year, but Bloomberg reported in March that refiners will fall 400 million gallons short of that requirement.

Republican and Democratic senators recently introduced legislation to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard, blaming it for increasing fuel and food prices.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard isn’t working for consumers, refiners or livestock groups,” said Arkansas Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor. “These mandates are unworkable and need to be overhauled. Repealing the RFS will allow us to develop a new policy for advanced biofuels without driving up Arkansans’ gas and food prices.”

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Tags : environmental protection agency war on coal
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