In terms of energy, coal is our most abundant resource. That is why it is used to generate about half of our electricity, and why Barack Hussein Obama promised before he was elected to make energy prices “skyrocket” by crippling the coal industry with malevolent regulations openly intended to bankrupt it. Using the most frightening bureaucracy in the entire malignant behemoth that calls itself our government, Obama has made good on this threat by targeting dozens of coal plants for destruction. Now his EPA delivers the death blow:
The Obama administration proposed on Tuesday the first rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new U.S. power plants, a move hotly contested by Republicans and industry in an election year.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal would effectively stop the building of most new coal-fired plants in an industry that is moving rapidly to more natural gas.
Read the rest at Moonbattery.
From Hot Air:
Mike and Chantell Sackett thought that they had achieved the American dream of not just owning their own home, but building one themselves. They bought a parcel of land zoned for residential construction in Idaho that was slightly larger than a half-acre and began construction on the house. The EPA stopped them from proceeding by informing the Sacketts that their land was considered federally-protected wetlands, and that not only would they have to cease construction, they were required to return the land to the same condition as they had found it. Each day that they failed to do so, the EPA could fine them $32,500. The only way they could challenge this ruling is if the EPA sought judicial enforcement of the order, which the EPA is not inclined to do for obvious reasons and which would take years anyway.
Next month, Reason’s Damon Root reports, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Sackett v EPA, and it has an opportunity to return private property rights to their proper standing (via our Townhall colleague Helen Whalen Cohen):
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution declares that no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This means that if the government infringes on your rights, you are entitled to mount a timely and meaningful defense of those rights in court. It’s one of the cornerstones of our entire legal system, with roots dating back at least as far as the Magna Carta, which declared, “No free man…shall be stripped of his rights or possessions…except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”
Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prefers a less venerable form of justice, as the Supreme Court will hear next month during oral arguments in the case of Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency. At issue is the EPA’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act through so-called administrative compliance orders, which are government commands that allow the agency to control the use of private property without the annoyance of having to subject its actions to judicial review. …
Read the rest at Hot Air.
From Hot Air:
Ah, transparency. Clearly concerned to achieve maximum visibility, the Environmental Protection Agency officially released a whopper of a rule the Wednesday before Christmas. How kind of environmental officials!
On December 21, the EPA announced regulations that will require power plants to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxics within the next three years. In other words, the rule targets coal-fired power plants. Sure, coal is a “dirty” form of energy and, yes, it is a fossil fuel, but, unfortunately, these regulations will cost the country too much to justify.
According to Scott Segal, the director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, this rule — commonly known as the Utility MACT rule (MACT stands for “maximum achievable control technology”) — is the most expensive air rule the EPA has ever proposed in terms of direct costs.
“Utility MACT will undermine job creation in the United States in several different ways,” Segal explained. “It will result in retirement of a significant number of power plants and either fail to replace that capacity or replace it with less labor-intensive forms of generation. It will increase the cost of power, undermining the international competitiveness of almost two dozen manufacturing industries, and it will reduce employment upstream in the mining sectors. All told, it is anticipated that the rule will result in the loss of some 1.44 million jobs by 2020. While some jobs are created by complying with the new rule, the number and quality of those jobs is far less than those destroyed. We estimate that for every one temporary job created, four higher-paying permanent jobs are lost.”
Read the rest at Hot Air.
From Hot Air:
The Environmental Protection Agency has long maintained that a new proposed utility rule to reduce mercury and other emissions won’t affect the reliability of the nation’s power grid — but Congressional and industry investigators have found that an early draft of the rule that circulated within the administration included a section that acknowledged the rule might negatively impact reliability, the WSJ reports.
It’s obvious to those who’ve examined the rule at any length that it’s designed to close coal-fired power plants, and, given the prevalence of such plants, it’s easy to infer that a rule to eliminate them would risk blackouts — but supporters of the rule brand anybody who opposes it an abettor of pollution and an accomplice of the industry.
As the WSJ explains, this newly discovered admission by the EPA itself that blackouts are a possible consequence of the rule gives the lie to that characterization:
In a “What are the energy impacts?” section, the EPA concedes that it “is aware that concerns have been expressed by some, even in advance of this proposed rule, that this regulation may detrimentally impact the reliability of the electric grid.” The agency admits that what it calls “sources integral to reliable operation” may be forced to shut down—those would be the coal-fired plants the EPA is targeting—and that these retirements “could result in localized reliability problems.” The EPA insists that it knows how to balance “both clean air and electric reliability,” but all along in public it has denied that reliability is in any way at risk. …
But here’s the kicker: This reliability section was gone when the EPA released its utility rule proposal in May 2011. Why did it vanish? Where did it go?
This matters because the draft report contradicts EPA leaders who have publicly portrayed anyone worried about reliability as an industry shill. More importantly, as a technical and legal matter, issues that are excluded from the Federal Register mean that the public is denied the opportunity to meaningfully comment on them.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson clearly doesn’t want anyone to comment on the reliability issue — not even the EPA. Not only did the agency scrub the reliability section from the proposed rule, but it has also given the White House regulatory office insufficient time to examine the rule, which the EPA plans to finalize by mid-December. The EPA has also repeatedly ignored letters from Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that ask whether the new regulation will jeopardize grid dependability.
Undaunted, Inhofe and Murkowski have tried yet again, sending a letter to Jackson to ask why the EPA eliminated the reliability section from the rule and also to request the EPA not impair electric reliability and affordability. All bets are against a reply from Jackson.
This rule is one of the most expensive ever proposed by the EPA: According to some estimates, it will cost $184 billion and up to 1.4 million jobs. Coal might be “dirty,” but, at present, the U.S. relies on it heavily. Eliminating it will increase energy costs at a time when the nation just can’t afford it. At least 25 state attorneys general have begged the EPA to delay this rule by at least a year. The EPA would do neither itself nor the energy industry any harm by heeding that request.
Incidentally, this story also underscores the need to ensure congressional oversight of regulations. The REINS Act is the best bill on the table to do just that.
From Hot Air:
Last month we told you about energy plants in both Kentucky and Indiana which are facing the prospect of shutting down far ahead of schedule because of pending EPA regulations. These closures come at a tremendous cost which, as always, will be passed on to the consumer. We also noted that these were not isolated examples, and more of the same should be expected. Now a new report from the Institute for Energy Research has identified an alarming number of additional plants which face a similar fate. The total cost to the power grid is a staggering 28 gigawatts of production.
Currently, EPA is leading the Obama administration’s assault on coal with a number of new regulations. Two of the most important are the “transport rule” and the “toxics rule” (Utility MACT). Combined, these regulations will systematically reduce access to affordable and reliable energy. According to our report:
EPA Regulations Will Close At Least 28 GW of Generating Capacity
EPA modeling and power-plant operator announcements show that EPA regulations will close at least 28 gigawatts (GW) of American generating capacity, the equivalent of closing every power plant in the state of North Carolina or Indiana. Also, 28 GW is 8.9 percent of our total coal generating capacity.
Current Retirements Almost Twice As High As EPA Predicted
EPA’s power plant-level modeling projected that Agency regulations would close 14.5 GW of generating capacity. That number rises to 28 GW when including additional announced retirements related to EPA rules, almost twice the amount EPA projected. Moreover, this number will grow as plant operators continue to release their EPA compliance plans.
Announced and Projected Retirements Higher Than Worst Case Scenarios
Analysis by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the entity in charge of grid reliability, projected that EPA’s Transport Rule and Toxics Rule would close 20 GW of generating capacity. This list indicates that at least 28 GW will retire. EPA’s Transport Rule and Toxics Rule push U.S. energy security past the NERC worst case scenario.
Each closure represents less available energy which translates into higher utility bills for consumers, not to mention the possibility of new rolling blackouts during periods of high demand. This is above and beyond the costs incurred by producers to replace these plants where possible – costs which will also be passed on to you. Lest you think this is a problem mostly being faced by Texas, think again. Is your home state on this list?
- Ohio: 2,894 MW retired, 8.6% of state total generating capacity.
- West Virginia: 2,448 MW retired, 14% of state total generating capacity.
- Indiana: 2,168 MW retired, 7.5% of state total generating capacity.
- Tennessee: 1,376 MW retired, 6.2% of state total generating capacity.
- Missouri: 1,325 MW retired, 6.3% of state total generating capacity.
- Wisconsin: 902 MW retired, 5% of state total generating capacity.
The map included in the report contains targets all the way from Vermont to Washington State and from Wyoming to Louisiana. This is not a localized problem, but rather one which will affect nearly everyone in the country. And it’s beginning as soon as January of this coming year.
As I’ve pointed out before, it’s not like I’m a cheerleader for coal fired plants. They will eventually be largely closed down in favor of natural gas and other domestic energy sources which are currently available to us. But the process takes time and the industry needs to be able to do it on a schedule which doesn’t cripple them in terms of either production capacity or costs. When the government seeks to force an acceleration of this schedule for partisan purposes, the result is predictable. And you’re going to foot the bill for it.
From Big Government:
There has been much discussion on Capitol Hill this week surrounding legislation that could provide temporary relief to energy providers across the country. The TRAIN Act – or Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011 – would mandate interagency economic analyses of EPA rules and delays two rules on power plant emissions.
I, for one, am thrilled the EPA’s economic “train wreck” could soon come to a screeching halt. The Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), in particular, would have negative effects across our economy: the country’s energy reliability would be weakened, monthly utility bills would increase, and power plants would be forced to close their doors; sending thousands of hard-working Americans to the unemployment line. Thanks to an amendment drafted by US Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), the TRAIN Act would ensure a minimum three-year delay of CSAPR.
EPA chief Lisa Jackson recently suggested the agency should “regulate sensibly – in a manner that does not create undue burdens and that carefully considers both the benefits and the costs.” Such a statement is surprising considering the EPA, by their own admission, has not taken jobs or the economy into account when drafting new regulations. Nor have they provided sufficient opportunities for experts to assess the implications of these burdensome regulations.
Unfortunately, Texas is already suffering the consequences of the EPA’s shortsightedness. Luminant Generation Co., a Dallas-based power-plant operator, announced earlier this month that it will be forced to cut 500 jobs and shut down two units at one of its coal-fired power plants if they are forced to comply with the EPA’s unrealistic regulations.
Read the rest at Big Government.
From The Heritage Foundation:
Last week, Bloomberg reported that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory push against the fossil fuel industry will cost America’s largest utility, the Southern Company, up to $18 billion in compliance costs. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
According to data in a filing by Southern last week, the EPA’s new emissions requirements cannot be met in the three years allowed by the agency. The results: more power plant closures, spikes in electricity prices, job losses, and increased power outages.
Southern’s filing demonstrates that, based on company data from actual upgrade projects, the EPA’s compliance timetable in its proposed “Utility MACT” rule is simply impossible to achieve. Southern has undertaken more upgrade and compliance projects than any other power producer.
Take scrubbers: Over the past seven years, it has installed 16 of them to capture emissions. The average time to complete each upgrade was 54 months—a full year-and-a-half longer than the EPA is now demanding for the entire industry to comply.
The installation of filter systems, another emissions control technology, takes anywhere from 34 to 48 months from start to finish. And Southern’s figures show that, with most of the low-hanging fruit of easy upgrades already completed, the EPA-required installations would come in at the far end of that timeline.
“Controlling the entire fleet by 2015 cannot be done at any cost,” the company concludes.
As a result, plants that can’t be upgraded in time must be taken off line in 2015. With less power available on the grid, electricity prices are forecast to spike by 11.5 percent nationwide in 2016, causing hundreds of thousands of job losses across the economy, according to National Economic Research Associates.
And according to Bernstein Research, the EPA’s rules will slash reserve capacity—i.e., the availability of electricity generating capacity to meet peak demand and plug power interruptions—resulting in increased power outages of longer duration. In a hot summer like this one, that means rolling blackouts, loss of air conditioning, and potentially heat-related deaths.
The Obama EPA’s disdain for the most abundant domestic energy sources is well known, but the consequences of its regulatory onslaught are only now gaining public attention. Congress should, at the very least, extend the EPA’s impossible compliance deadline to avert some of the economic damage and job loss that are the inevitable result of the EPA’s war on domestic energy. Even better, Congress should consider whether regulation is called for at all—a question which the EPA has, prior to this Administration, answered in the negative.
Barack Hussein Obama promised before the election that he would bankrupt the coal industry that provides us with 57% of our electricity. In an appalling testimony to the suicidal stupidity of 53% of the population, he was elected anyway. He’s using the malignant EPA to make good on his promise:
Utility giant American Electric Power said Thursday that it will shut down five coal-fired power plants and spend billions of dollars to comply with a series of pending Environmental Protection Agency regulations. …
In a statement outlining its plan to comply with EPA’s regulations, AEP said it would need to retire 6,000 megawatts of coal-fired power generation in the coming years.
The company, one of the country’s largest electric utilities, estimated that it will cost between $6 billion and $8 billion in capital investments over the next decade to comply with the regulations in their current form.
The costs of complying with the regulations will result in an increase in electricity prices of 10 to 35 percent and cost 600 jobs, AEP said.
Just the ticket to revive our debt-ravaged economy.
Without the electricity generated by coal, what is going to make the farcical electric cars we’re forced to subsidize go? Maybe the EPA will impose a regulation dictating that they have to run by magic.
From The Heritage Foundation:
President Obama’s infamous words—saying electricity rates will “necessarily skyrocket” under his cap-and-trade program that would impose a costly energy tax on American consumers—are set to come true. Just ask the market.
Although cap and trade is not law, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) backdoor train wreck of energy regulations is forcing utilities to file for significant rate hikes in years to come because of the upgrades they will have to make or the complete shutdown of older plants.
Take Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E), for instance. In what’s labeled as an “environmental cost recovery,” the utility says ratepayers will see their electric bills increase 19.2 percent by 2016. Why? LG&E spokesman Chip Keeling answered,
The EPA is forcing utilities to do this. We don’t have a choice. It’s not a question of are we going to meet them. The question is when and how and how much money. We have to meet these regulations because the EPA is mandating it for us to do it. They’re forcing us to do it.
LG&E isn’t the only one building cost increases into its projects as a result of EPA regulations. PJM is a regional transmission organization that manages the electric grid and coordinates the wholesale electricity market for 13 states and the District of Columbia. The organization conducts electricity capacity auctions for future years to meet anticipated demand, and it projects EPA regulations are going to increase capacity costs in the magnitude of $2 billion–$3 billion for a one-year period. PJM also “concluded that “60 to 80%” of the increase in generators bid costs in the May 2011 auction was due to environmental regulations.”
As this American Legislative Exchange Council study shows, the EPA’s train wreck of energy regulations leaves a complicated and expensive mess of new requirements for U.S. power plants. A new analysis from the National Economic Research Associates (NERA) looked at just two of those regulations, the Clean Air Transport Rule and the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT). The study finds “Average U.S. retail electricity prices in 2016 would increase by about 12%, with regional increases as much as about 24%.”
American households will be hit hard, as will American businesses. Producers everywhere will try to cover their higher production costs by raising product prices. As a result, consumer demand will fall, and income and employment will drop. There’s no other way to put it: These are unnecessary job-killing, economy-destroying regulations.