WASHINGTON, D.C. – The president and chief executive officer of the National Mining Association is part of the chorus calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw the proposed Clean Power Act — the regulations designed to reduce carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.
“They’re trying to change the way we generate electricity here and push us from the lowest costs options, being coal, to the higher cost and more intermittent sources, such as solar and wind, and give them an additional boost,” Hal Quinn said.
Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s administrator, took questions from members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works about the proposals on Capitol Hill last week.
“EPA’s proposed Clean Power plan will cut hundreds of millions of tons of carbon pollution and hundreds of thousands of tons of other harmful air pollutants from existing power plants,” McCarthy said.
As proposed, each state would be given specific goals for cutting carbon pollution based on every mega-watt hour of electricity generated and will be able to develop their own plans for meeting those goals. In West Virginia, for example, where coal usage is high, EPA officials have said the goal reduction rate may fall below a national target average of 30 percent.
But Quinn dismissed such variations as “a complex web of implausible assumptions.”
He said, currently, meeting the marks is not technically possible. “And they know that,” he said. “This is not really a rule that just focuses on natural gas or coal power plants. What they’re doing is they’re reaching deep into the electricity generation system and trying to completely overhaul it.”
Such large-scale changes, he argued, could drive up energy bills by between 24 percent and 55 percent.
A recent study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Rhodium Group confirmed the EPA’s proposed regulations would cut demand for electricity from coal, while creating increased demand for natural gas.
According to that study, states where coal production is the central part of the economy would take a hard hit because of the rule, while there would be an economic trade-off in states that produce both coal and natural gas and booms in areas where natural gas is king.
“I think you’re going to see a lot more governors joining people, like Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and others, to say to EPA, ‘We’ve looked at this plan and, even if we wanted to do it, we just can’t do it as a practical matter, technical matter, as a structural matter, as a legal matter,’” Quinn said.
His organization, the National Mining Association, is a lobbying group that works on behalf of the coal industry.