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Since assuming office in 2009, President Obama has piled billions of dollars in unaffordable burdens on electricity generation. Now his team of regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched another misguided assault on coal with no regard for the cost to American families and businesses.
The EPA’s most recent regulation prohibits any new power plant from emitting more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity produced. Today, the average coal plant emits 1,768 pounds, making compliance with this regulation next-to-impossible. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson even admitted that the technology power plants would need to comply may only be available “within the next ten years.”
This represents another effort by the President to accomplish through regulation what he could not get approved by the people’s elected representatives. Congress has rejected cap and trade and other efforts to regulate carbon in the past, knowing the dramatic impact such burdens would have on energy prices, family budgets and our economy. The EPA, however, disregarded Congress’ will with its latest regulation, which is why Congress needs to reassert its control of the regulatory process from unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats.
The proposed regulation poses a serious threat to America’s energy future by making new coal plants economically infeasible and subjecting many current plants to extinction by regulation. Given the enormous contribution of coal to our country’s energy supply and the lack of suitable replacements for baseload generation, the price spikes in our energy bills and on almost all consumer goods would be unaffordable.
Coal is remarkably abundant: it accounts for ninety-four percent of the United States’ fossil energy reserve, which at current consumption rates is a 235 year supply. It is found in thirty-eight States, from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians. Significant deposits — more than eighty billion tons combined — sit underground in both the west and east ends of the Commonwealth.
This wide availability contributes to coal’s critical role in generating electricity. Almost half of U.S. electricity comes from coal, far more than any other natural resource. Because of its low price, it is easy to see why: coal has been the most affordable fossil fuel in this nation since 1976. Traditionally, it is less than one-fourth the price of petroleum and natural gas.
The coal industry employs 136,000 Americans, including 23,000 in Kentucky. According to the National Mining Association, anticipated increases in demand could lead to an additional 50,000 jobs within the next ten years.
Coal provides low-cost power and thousands of jobs; all of which will be difficult to replace. The Administration has continued to oppose the expansion of oil drilling, and although natural gas is at its lowest price in a decade, households and business cannot fully rely upon one energy resource to generate electricity.
The Energy Information Administration has found that when oil prices rise, consumers demand more natural gas instead of oil, which makes natural gas more expensive. If consumers switched their demand from coal to natural gas, as well — the result of the EPA regulating coal out of the market — the price of natural gas would soar even higher.
Energy prices are a major factor in determining the cost of living and cost of doing business. Substantially increasing the cost of energy through unreasonable regulation is a drag on our economy and a burden on our families.
Our country has a tremendous variety of natural resources, and our energy strategy should incorporate all of them, including coal. Democratic lawmakers like Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D-WV) agree that the Obama Administration has gone too far in regulating this resource. A vast supply of coal is in their backyard, as it is in ours in Kentucky. But the importance of coal to our economy stretches far beyond these two States. The EPA is out of line and out of touch and needs to be reined-in.
Geoff Davis represents Kentucky’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. His district comprises 22 counties, including Carroll, Trimble and Gallatin.