Featured image courtesy of Washington Times.
Let’s check back in with Obama’s War on Coal. The EPA has enjoyed a brief holiday from the headlines as the President paid lip service to an “all of the above” energy policy in his State of the Union address, but as the 2012 election heats up, the Obama EPA’s job-killing rules and regs are increasingly cropping up on the campaign trail.
From the Washington Times:
As gasoline prices continue to rise and keep the heat on President Obama’s energy policies, critics also are accusing the president of shifting support away from the coal industry, a major source of fuel and jobs in several battleground states, including Colorado, Michigan and Ohio. Lawmakers on both sides of the partisan aisle say Obama administration environmental regulations aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions are poised to hit jobs and consumers harder than the Keystone XL decision at the same time the president seems to have abandoned his stated support for the coal industry and clean-coal technology.
Support for a robust and responsible coal industry isn’t just coming from those terrible, environment-hating Republicans. Major labor unions, which form a huge portion of Obama’s base, have united to petition the President and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, issuing a group letter stating the following:
We are writing to express our support for the “all of the above” energy policy you are advancing, and to request that you expressly include advanced coal technologies as part of your emerging policy framework. We also are writing to convey our concerns about potential widespread job losses under U.S. EPA’s final Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (“MATS”) rule, and to request your support in ensuring that this rule provides for the construction of new, state-of-the-art coal generating capacity.
Preliminary results of surveys of electric generators subject to the MATS rule indicate plans to retire substantially more electric generating capacity than the 4,700 megawatt estimate in EPA’s final rule. The PJM Interconnection, for example, reports planed retirements of 14,000 megawatts by 2015, and a total of 18,000 megawatts by 2018. PJM represents approximately one-quarter of U.S. coal generation in a region spanning from New Jersey to Illinois. When all of the regional transmission organizations and related entities have completed their compliance surveys, total coal unit retirements easily could be ten times greater than EPA’s estimates.
What’s easy to forget as this debate takes place in Washington, D.C., is that the forced closure of coal plants impacts real people in real towns across American; often in areas that are already struggling from a loss of manufacturing jobs and rely heavily on the jobs created by coal plants for economic survival. The Wall Street Journal profiled one such town this week:
Shutting the Homer City Generating Station would be an economic blow to Indiana County, but it would be devastating to tiny Homer City, say residents.
Jim Barker, executive vice president of Rosebud Mining Co. in Kittanning, Pa., said about 250 coal mining jobs near Homer City depend on the plant. “It’s good news that they’re working to put scrubbers on,” he said.
Work related to the retrofit is expected to create 600 jobs, including for iron workers and other skilled trades, as well as boosting business for hotels, restaurants and other service employers, said Dana Henry, president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
Of course, even when a plant like the Homer city generating station is actively working to comply with stringent EPA standards, it still faces attacks from the Sierra Club:
[T]he environmental group’s organizers have been meeting recently with Homer City area residents to build opposition to the plant, even with planned retrofits.
Crossposted at Conservative Outlooks