States face war on coal from Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion

Serve Daily - - EMPOWERING LIBERTY - By Terry Jar­rett Terry Jar­rett is an en­ergy at­tor­ney and con­sul­tant and is a for­mer com­mis­sioner of the Mis­souri Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion.

The Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s as­sault on the na­tion’s coal pro­duc­ers took a re­mark­able turn re­cently. The U.S. Supreme Court is­sued a stay against the pres­i­dent’s mas­sive “Clean Power Plan,” block­ing the new pro­gram un­til a fed­eral court de­ter­mines its le­gal­ity.

The rul­ing pro­duced a huge sigh of relief from the 27 states cur­rently su­ing to halt what they see as the most far-reach­ing and in­tru­sive reg­u­la­tions ever im­posed by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency.

Cash-strapped states no longer need to scram­ble to re­duce power sec­tor car­bon diox­ide emis­sions 32 per­cent by 2030. Be­cause the power plan re­quires in­terim targets in 2022, though, many states were al­ready mo­bi­liz­ing to build new power sec­tor in­fra­struc­ture at sub­stan­tial cost.

Now they don’t have to, and any state still fol­low­ing the EPA man­date risks wast­ing tax­payer money just to com­ply with a reg­u­la­tion that could soon be judged un­law­ful. Un­for­tu­nately, even those states tak­ing ad­van­tage of the re­prieve have al­ready sensed the risks fac­ing af­ford­able, re­li­able power gen­er­a­tion.

De­spite the court’s re­prieve, more trou­ble is on the way, too. That’s be­cause the pres­i­dent is still wag­ing a wider bat­tle against coal-based power. His team hopes to re­place coal with so­lar and wind power, even though nei­ther one has demon­strated real abil­ity to gen­er­ate ro­bust power or cost ef­fi­ciency.

The Depart­ment of the In­te­rior re­cently pro­posed a com­plete over­haul of coal min­ing reg­u­la­tions, largely re­plac­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal over­sight by the states with a mas­sive new set of fed­eral rules so broad as to po­ten­tially ren­der more than half of U.S. coal re­serves off-lim­its. Even though states have demon­strated con­sid­er­able suc­cess in polic­ing their re­spec­tive min­ing sec­tors, the “Stream Pro­tec­tion Rule” pro­posed by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has mor­phed into a stag­ger­ing ex­pan­sion of reg­u­la­tory con­trols that, if fully im­ple­mented, could elim­i­nate up to 280,000 jobs tied to the coal sec­tor.

This hos­til­ity to coal was clearly on dis­play dur­ing the pres­i­dent’s fi­nal State of the Union ad­dress when he an­nounced a mora­to­rium on fed­eral coal leases. If the pres­i­dent can’t stop coal through the CPP, he will sim­ply or­der it to re­main in the ground. Sadly, fed­eral coal leases pro­vide much of the na­tion’s af­ford­able power sup­ply and gen­er­ate whop­ping an­nual rev­enues thanks to the hefty 40 per­cent roy­alty and tax fees ap­plied to min­ing claims.

The great prob­lem with this war on coal is that it ig­nores coal’s pre­em­i­nence in gen­er­at­ing roughly 37 per­cent of U.S. elec­tric­ity (com­pared to less than 5 per­cent for wind and so­lar). Coal re­mains the most de­pend­able source of con­tin­u­ous power, and the state-of-the-art clean coal plants that scrub emis­sions of sul­fur diox­ide, ni­trous ox­ide and par­tic­u­late mat­ter are cur­rently run­ning over­time to keep Amer­i­cans warm dur­ing win­ter and cool in sum­mer.

In short, any one of Pres­i­dent Obama’s three pro­pos­als would re­sult in higher elec­tric­ity costs. Not only would this harm Amer­ica’s al­ready trou­bled econ­omy, but it would also dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fect the coun­try’s most vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions like seniors and low-in­come com­mu­ni­ties. Amer­i­cans on the poverty line and ru­ral res­i­dents de­pend­ing on elec­tric­ity co-ops al­ready pay an out­sized per­cent­age of their in­come for en­ergy. With­out af­ford­able coal power, they will be sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected by higher monthly elec­tric bills.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has a record of im­pos­ing reg­u­la­tions with­out re­gard for ex­pense, how­ever. Last sum­mer, the Supreme Court struck down a sep­a­rate EPA reg­u­la­tion on coal, say­ing the agency must con­sider cost be­fore de­cid­ing if a reg­u­la­tion is “ap­pro­pri­ate and nec­es­sary.” Thus, the ad­min­is­tra­tion is now 0 for 2 in im­pos­ing its agenda. But the Supreme Court may not be able to stop ev­ery one of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts, which means the Amer­i­can peo­ple could be the real losers if the pres­i­dent con­tin­ues his costly as­sault on coal.

Terry Jar­rett

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.