On Monday, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) unveiled new legislation that would require the EPA to expedite the process for coal companies seeking permits to open new mines, as covered by the Associated Press. U.S. Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) plans to introduce similar legislation in the House next week.
McConnell’s “Coal Jobs Protection Act” is a promising step in protecting the coal industry from what he asserts is EPA action beyond its “scope of authority” by making the permitting process for coal mines more burdensome, The Hill noted.
“Coal is a vital part of my state’s economy, and a vital part of America’s energy portfolio,” McConnell said. “The EPA’s attack on this important Kentucky industry hampers the growth of jobs, and it especially hampers the growth of small business — the greatest engine of job creation.”
McConnell clearly recognizes the importance of coal in keeping our nation’s economy strong, providing good jobs to hard-working Americans, and preserving access to affordable and reliable energy. In his own state of Kentucky, over 4,000 coal industry jobs have been lost – a drop of nearly 30 percent – prompting action through this new legislative measure.
In a US Senate confirmation hearing yesterday, Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s pick to lead the EPA, told a Senate panel on Thursday that coal will remain important in the U.S. energy mix and that if confirmed that she will be flexible in applying new pollution rules for coal-fueled power plants.
“Coal has been and will continue to be a significant source of energy in the United States, and I take my job seriously when developing those standards to provide flexibility in the rules,” McCarthy said.
According to a story from Reuters, “Republican Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, among others, quizzed McCarthy about the economic impact of its rules on states that rely on coal as a primary energy source, and about her feelings toward job losses when coal plants close.”
Barrasso said rules that prevent new coal plants from being built and would potentially shut down existing coal plants are already causing “chronic unemployment” in Wyoming.
“I haven’t heard yet any plain statements from EPA –hopefully we will today from this nominee – about the negative health impacts and lives lost from chronic unemployment caused by the EPA policies,” he said. “This is a serious health epidemic and it seems to go unnoticed by the EPA. How many more times will an EPA administrator pull the regulatory lever that will allow another mining family to fall through the EPA’s trap door of joblessness, poverty and poor health,” he said. “Are coal miners no longer heroes to the nominee and the EPA? These people are heroes and they deserve better than they’re getting from the EPA,” Barrasso said.
Coal is mined in 25 U.S. states and is responsible for more than 760,000 jobs in the United States. Wyoming is the largest coal-producing state, followed by West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Illinois.
E&E News reported this afternoon that 36 states are striking back against a U.S. EPA plan to force them to rewrite rules that suspend emissions standards for pollution sources during startup, shutdown and malfunction periods, calling it an infringement on states’ rights.
According to E&E: “EPA in February announced that it would work with 36 states to amend their implementation plans for the so-called SSM periods. Environmentalists have said that exempting power plants from pollution standards during those periods is a massive loophole that EPA needs to close.
But states have struck back against the decision, saying it’s an overreach by EPA. In a request sent last month, 18 state attorneys general say the proposal ‘impermissibly seeks to intrude on the states’ clear authority to determine the means to achieve attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.”
To read the rest of the article click here, E&E is a subscrption-based news service.
The following Letter to the Editor was written by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity President and CEO Robert M. “Mike” Duncan, and published in the Washington Post in response to a recent Op-Ed the paper had written regarding the coal-based electricity industry.
An America without coal plants?
Columnist Eugene Robinson would have President Obama use executive power to shutter our nation’s coal plants, with little regard to the impact on the economy — or on the environment [“Let the coal fire die out,” op-ed, Feb. 26].
More than $100 billion has been invested to make electricity from coal almost 90 percent cleaner than it was 40 years ago. We have more than a dozen clean-coal technologies to thank for this progress. Turning our backs on coal and clean-coal technologies would give countries such as India and China a huge advantage over the United States, which has the largest coal reserves in the world.
Global energy demand is going to increase by 50 percent over the next 25 years, and that demand cannot be met without coal. Those who value a clean environment and a strong economy should be looking for ways to use coal even more cleanly instead of abandoning clean coal to other countries.
Robert M. Duncan
In response to the Obama Administration’s nomination of Gina McCarthy to succeed Lisa Jackson as Environmental Protection Agency administrator, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity President and CEO Robert M. “Mike” Duncan released the following statement:
“We congratulate Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy on her nomination to be the next EPA Administrator, and we hope for a more constructive working relationship with the EPA under her leadership,” said Mike Duncan. “We hope that if she is confirmed she can put EPA on a more balanced path that recognizes America’s continued need for coal, and the importance of clean coal technology.”
The Business Roundtable (BRT) outlined its priorities in a new report. Although many of the recommendations have been talked about, members of the BRT Roundtable said they hope the new Congress and President Barack Obama’s will make progress on their agenda, including recommendations for the EPA:
“Ensuring that EPA regulations are based on sound science, undergo thorough net cost-benefit analysis, and take into consideration the net cumulative impact these regulations have on energy costs, economic growth and job creation, while being protective of human health and the environment.”
“Carefully evaluating the timing and cumulative impact of EPA regulations on the electric utility industry and, as appropriate, modifying these regulations to ensure continued reliability, avoid unreasonable rate impacts, and maintain a diverse, market-driven portfolio of baseload electricity generation fuel options.”
The BRT is an association of chief executive officers from many leading U.S. companies with over $6 trillion in annual revenues and more than 14 million employees. Their companies generate an estimated $420 billion in sales for small and medium-sized businesses annually. BRT members comprise nearly a third of the total value of the U.S. stock market and invest more than $150 billion annually in research and development — nearly half of all private U.S. R&D spending.
As talks heat up about who will be nominated to be the next EPA Administrator, the nominee will need to listen to voices like the BRT and take these recommendations into consideration and understand that it’s best to take a common sense action to protect the environment while not harming American jobs and consumers.
As we’ve said before, the next head of the EPA needs to fully analyze and understand the full, cumulative economic impacts of its regulations. American jobs are at stake, as well as access to affordable, reliable electricity that is a pillar to our economic recovery.
BRT companies pay $163 billion in dividends to shareholders and give nearly $9 billion a year in combined charitable contributions.
Tomorrow is race day for the No. 7 Clean Coal Car! ACCCE is the primary sponsor on Regan Smith’s No. 7 Chevrolet in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.
Smith made his JR Motorsports debut in the 2012 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and won, giving JRM its first-ever victory at the south Florida track. JRM’s Daytona line-up on Feb. 23 includes Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 and Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88, both of whom will carry ACCCE associate sponsorship on their cars.
Make sure to “Like” America’s Power on Facebook to learn more about the role clean coal plays in our everyday lives, and to keep up with all the excitement from this year’s racing season. Don’t forget to take a stand for coal by joining here.