This week, the EPA is holding a series of public hearings on the agency’s proposal to cut emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.  EPA administrator Gina McCarthy says the agency has received “tremendous comments” so far, adding, “we’re excited to have these public hearings.”

McCarthy, unlike her prickly predecessor Lisa Jackson, is credited with being a pragmatic straight-shooter, but she sounds like she’s trying a bit too hard to convince us that the EPA is really interested in what those who disagree have to say about these punitive rules.

Not so much.

These hearings are formalities, awkward exercises for the powerful government agency that long since decided that the often discussed all-of-the-above energy strategy for this country does not include cheap, plentiful supplies of coal.

The EPA, the Obama Administration and environmental acolytes assume America is on their side.  A poll conducted by The Winston Group for the American Energy Alliance found that voters in five states (Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana and North Carolina—key battleground states in the 2014 election) want the EPA to reduce carbon emissions.

Sixty percent either strongly support or somewhat support the proposed regulation. After all, who doesn’t love Mother Earth?

However, when voters were told of the possible economic consequences of dramatic carbon reduction—loss of jobs, a shift in jobs and energy production to countries with lower environmental standards—opinions change dramatically.  Only 39 percent support the regulations, while 55 percent oppose.

Naturally, the administration expects a different economic outcome with more jobs in green energy production and… wait for it… cheaper energy for consumers.  If making energy production more expensive through regulation is supposed to lower energy bills, why not drive production costs even higher?

Closer to home, the new carbon emission standards will make it even more difficult to mine and sell coal domestically as power plants switch to lower carbon natural gas and investors shy away from the risk associated with an industry targeted by the EPA.

Along with the new carbon standards, the EPA has also made it harder to get mine permits.  National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn testified before Congress earlier this month that “the process for obtaining permits to proceed with economic and land use activities has become longer and more complicated.”

The regulatory uncertainty, including the EPA’s power to retroactively invalidate a permit, makes investing in the coal business even more risky.  Quinn cited a 2011 study by UC Berkeley Professor David Sunding which found that just a one percent chance of a permit revocation decreases the cost-benefit ratio of the project by nearly 18 percent.

The EPA will hold its public hearings and McCarthy will patiently field questions during Congressional hearings with her usual aplomb, but the agency’s actions are predetermined.  The Congress refused to pass President Obama’s cap-and-trade controls of the energy economy, so the heavy regulatory lifting falls to the EPA.

 

 

 

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Comments

  • CaptainQ

    It's as I stated here before, Hoppy, the "War on Coal" is over with Obama and the Democrats winning, thanks to Obama's EPA. The wheels are now set in motion and cannot be stopped even if (by some miracle) the GOP reclaims the White House in 2016. Although it is true the coal industry was already on the decline before Obama became President, his overreaching EPA's new regulations have, for all practical purposes, caused that decline to escalate even faster.

    In the future, America will pay the price for this shortsightedness. Though there's newly discovered sources of natural gas, it will take decades to convert all coal burning power plants to natural gas. In the meantime, with energy needs rising and less power plants available to fill them, America is looking at a future of rolling blackouts and higher prices for what electricity will be available.

    The worst part of this entire energy equation is the fact that America has an abundant supply of coal and yet, the Obama Administration seems content to allow this valuable resource to go unused in the name of their crazy environmental agenda. What a waste!

    • Shadow

      Have you looked at coal exports? India and China are good customers. Coal is where we get some of our dollars back. If and when there is a need for more steel, overseas shipments will increase as we shipped that industry overseas like everything else by our Government taxes and regulations.

      • CaptainQ

        True, Shadow. We could export our coal, but Obama's EPA will soon do their part to curtail that as well. Watch and see, it will happen.

    • Mason County Contrarian

      Rolling blackouts, etc. discounts the absence of someone providing electricity and when a service is needed the free market will respond.

      That's what makes America famous. And that is what is happening with energy.

      I don't hear a "the sky is falling" cry from other energy source lobbyists-their free market profits are secure and growing.

      As always, it's about the Benjamins and the opportunity to make a few, and in the case of coal, to lose a few.

      • Aaron

        You seem to be promoting renewable energy MCC, i'm curious, do you think renewables can replace coal in West Virginia where over 90% of our electricity comes from that source? If not all of the coal generated electricity, how much can renewable wnergy replace?

        • Cletus

          In 10 years there won't be enough people left to over load my Honda generator.

        • Mason County Contrarian

          Aaron, it doesn't matter what I think about this percentage or that percentage. The drive for profit is substantially greater than any political rhetoric from the right or the left, renewable or nonrenewable sources, etc. Investors could care less about the economic displacement that will occur in the future. They're in it for the Benjamins, it's just our ox that is being gored this go-round.

          And no politicians, lobbyists, or "associations" of old angry white guys can change that fact.

          • Aaron

            It's not quite that simple MCC as sources to generate electricity are finite. Outside of fossil fuels you have renewable energy and nuclear power plants. Beyond that I know of no other sources.

            When it comes to renewable energy sources only certain ones are viable for West Virginia. Wind requires class for windspeeds and above and there are very few locations in West Virginia for those windspeeds are maintained. Currently the wind farms located in the Potomac Plateau require an alternative source of energy to turn the turbines during low wind periods. Besides being extremely costly solar is also limited with the amount of sunlight West Virginia receives throughout the year.

            Unless we start building nuclear power plants, I'm sorry but I don't see how any source is going to replace coal and gas as sources for energy production. To claim that profit will motivate a source that is not available seems unrealistic to me.

      • The bookman

        There is a disconnect in what the stated political policy is and what the proposed EPA plan promotes. Stated political policy is consistent with what the Captain puts forward.

        If we follow the current political leadership, coal generation of electricity is ending, with plant and mine closures that are required by climate change science. We must act and act now to save the planet, and coal is the evil among us.

        That is the political message we here.

        The EPA proposal states that each state, or region possibly, has the flexibility to reduce emissions, invest in emission reduction, or purchase credits from other states who have them available. The plan projects a very small reduction in coal usage, and even smaller reductions in CO2 emissions. The price of energy will most definitely increase for coal users, and decrease for lower emission energy consumers.

        Reality and politics are not the same. That is why so many of us are frustrated with this issue, as what the government is saying they want to do isn't matching the mechanics of what they are doing. It is impossible to live in modernity without coal in the present time.

  • Wirerowe

    EPA's proposed policy has a negative cost benefit. Huge costs to society and minimal benefits.Bad policy.

  • Bill Hill

    You all do know that congress could put and end to this. The real question to be asked is why are those elected to the senate and house from the coal mining states allowing this to happen to begin with?

    I know the usual line from the politicians is "there is nothing I can do." That's pure barnyard material!! Helen Keller, blind and deaf, once said "she was but one person but yet she could do something".

    Manchin, Rockefeller, Capito, Rahall, and McKinney along with the representatives from other states affected by Obama's EPA ought to take a few lessons in intestinal fortitude from Miss Keller.

    • AX MAN

      Bill Hill you exactly correct, congress, could very easy reduce EPA's funding, but if you recall the last election, they were going to reduce the debt, cut spending and get rid of OBC, guest what, we are going into another election, spending has gone up and OBC is live and well, and the debt is climbing to 18. trillion, and they blame it on the fact they don't have the Senate, if they had Senate, things would not change that much, because the Rep. Party has no leadership and the entire party is scared to death of O Bama.

    • hillbilly

      Because Congress cannot agree on absolutely anything!!!

  • Hop'sHip

    While Obama obviously is leading this War on Coal, we should reserve some of our scorn for his allies. Look at those selfish Californians. Just because they are experiencing a little inconvenience with their unprecedented drought, they choose to believe those evil climatologists that climate change is causing their predicament rather than admitting that God is punishing them for their liberal lifestyles. So they think states like West Virginia and Kentucky who use per capita three times the electricity that they do, could become maybe a tinge more energy efficient and meet those burdensome goals EPA has set. I suppose they expect us to start using those squiggly light bulbs and turning the lights off when we leave a room. Now that is real inconvenience!

    • The bookman

      The West is a dry arid climate that is significantly overpopulated given its available resources of fresh water. Drought is a fact of life, and in dry climates like the west, it doesn't take much of an anomaly to create extreme conditions. Every drop of the Colorado River is used before it reaches its delta in the Gulf of California inside Mexico. Every Drop. Who uses that resource? The Environmentally conscious Californians and 40,000,000 others along its winding path. It has been only recently that the guilt has led some to consider setting aside a few moments and drops of water to take some pictures of water flowing through the dry delta of the Colorado.

      Don't preach to me about the forward thinking, environmentally conscious Californians. They have stretched their resources to the point that conservation is required for survival. Let's not emulate that path.

      • J the C

        BTW, outsiders often think of California as the L.A. Basin, and San Diego. There are millions of people who live north of the Tehachapi's who get their water from snow pack and rainwater from the Sierra and its foothills. They normally have so much, normally, that they ship vast quantities south via the Peripheral Canal. California may indeed be a victim of climate change, although I agree that state is saturated, population wise, considering it is a desert.

      • J the C

        Such as an anomaly like climate change?

        • The bookman

          No, such as weather. Climates change over long periods of time, even when great cataclysmic events are involved. Following the collision of an asteroid with Earth 65 million years ago, it took the dinosaurs 200,000 years to leave the fossil record. The Earth is not as fragile as those pushing this agenda would have you believe. Don't take that to mean we can't be destructive. We can and we have. But change the climate? No, I don't think so.

      • Hillboy

        Bookman writes, "Every drop of the Colorado River is used before it reaches its delta in the Gulf of California inside Mexico. Every Drop. Who uses that resource? The Environmentally conscious Californians and 40,000,000 others along its winding path."

        It's not just those who live along the river who use the water. We all do. Irrigated agriculture consumes much more water than municipal water use does. Anytime we buy produce that was grown out west we are using up western water. The Central Valley of California is an even more extreme example. Our agricultural policy is at least as screwed up as our energy policy.

        • The bookman

          I am aware of the multiple beneficiaries of water from the Colorado, but those industries are located there, and collectively the population draws down the fresh water supplies of the region. These same folks then decry the NG industry for the water they use all while pumping water from underground aquifers to sustain their ever expanding communities. My reply to HH was that these Hollywood types like Redford point fingers at the rest of us as though we are purposefully destroying the planet, yet have stood by and observed the over allocation of the region's chief fresh water supply, the Colorado River. They are not to be emulated. The Colorado River is the poster child of how not to manage a resource, and a representation of poor conservation. I don't see Southern California as the utopian society of conservation and forward thinking that was presented by HH. I see it as a society of "do as I say, not as I do."

          • The bookman

            I think that is a fair statement. The major point of diversion is that we in WV recognize that we haven't always been good stewards, and the Hollywood environmentalists don't realize that they can never wear white to the wedding.

          • Hillboy

            If I follow you correctly I would tend to agree with you on that. Regardless of how vested economic interests have abused local water resources the people of that area share some of the responsibility for allowing that to happen. In that sense, southern Californians and West Virginians are alike. We have both allowed our waters to be abused for profit.

      • Aaron

        I read an interesting comment about more water is spilled from pipelines that carry water from Northern California to Southern California than used in most states daily. Perhaps that's why Northern California would be happy to see a huge earthquake drop Southern California in the Pacific.

        • Hillboy

          If you could post a link to information that documents that level of loss I would be very appreciative. Much of the water is not even transported in pipelines but in open canals so the evaporative loss is significant. I haven't seen any data on spillage however.

          • Aaron

            Sadly the myth becomes the perception.

          • Hillboy

            Having spent some time in southern California I would have to say that I did not find the people there to be collectively as judgmental and self-righteous as you and Bookman portray them. Just as West Virginians are not all hillbillies.

          • Aaron

            It's been years since I read the article and part of the loss may very we'll have been from evaporation. My point is that northern Californians are tired of sending their water south for consumption by a collective society that has the notion they are entitled to live in a manner they condemn others for. Bookman hit the nail on the head as their mentality is do as I say not as I do.

    • Aaron

      I'm curious and not that I expect a reasonable reply or intelligent debate from you as the above attitude is your standard MO, but given that AEP has reduced harmful emissions by 70% over the past 17 years, this version of a cap and trade bill imposed by the EPA will reduce carbon emissions from that atmosphere that is equivalent to removing 1 ping pong ball from the Empire State Building full of ping pong balls yet the result will be an increase of anywhere from 70% to 300% for average residential electric bill, do you think this legislation is worth the cost?

      • Wirerowe

        Aaron. No the policy change is not worth it. Huge costs and almost imperceptible benefits.

        • Hop'sHip

          Wire: Excuse my attitude, but I have always thought of you as both reasonable and intelligent. Why do you think they are pushing such a high cost, no benefit policy? Do you think they are just stupid or do you ascribe more sinister motives?

          • Aaron

            I cannot help but note that in your explanation of the left having legitimate concerns and looking at it from their perspective that you ignored the question that slants in the opposite direction.

          • The bookman

            HH:

            I don't think those who believe man is causing the climate to change by burning fossil fuels have malice in their hearts. Just the opposite. They aren't called bleeding heart liberals for nothing. The story put forward by Gore fell perfectly in line with their Save the Fill in the blank Campaigns. The truth, the real truth, is terribly inconvenient. But their vehement hatred of coal is not rooted in malice. It is in the telltale beating of that liberal heart that has blinded them with science, flawed science.

          • Hop'sHip

            No my feelings are not that easily bruised, I was just taken aback by the source. It's like being called immature by Justin Beibert. It doesn't mean you aren't immature. But should he be the one pointing it out? I guess you could use the old "takes one to know one" argument. I'm not sure what my snarky comment was. I've always been confused as to why this issue should be addressed as a war. My comment was an effort to present the possibility that the other side might have legitimate concerns and maybe if we tried to look at it from their perspective maybe they would reciprocate. Bookie made it clear that such doesn't resonate here because the other side is motivated by malice.

          • Aaron

            Sounds to me like you got your feelings hurt. Perhaps if your going to make snarky comments online a thicker skin is required.

          • Hop'sHip

            No. I have been told I have an attitude problem. You would not know anything about that because you never bring attitude to a discussion.

          • Aaron

            Of course you're being facetious when you say excuse the attitude...

        • Aaron

          My favorite analogy was the Ping pong balls in the Empire State building. I first heard it on MSNBC's Good Morning Joe.

  • JTC

    Maybe Boehner should sue the EPA, that is a novel idea, oh wait, I think he is already involved in a lawsuit.

    • Wirerowe

      JTC IMHO one of the hardest choices Speaker Boehner has has to make as speaker is which of the numerous abuses of executive power by President Obama should he sue the President over. Personally I would have sued over the President's overreach on CO2. But boehner had to make the hard choice of suing because of the abuses in implementing the affordable care act. Very difficult choice of picking one abuse over the other.

  • Spoton

    The problem is many of these people who hate coal have no idea where electricity comes from. One day its coal is awful, destroying the environment....the next day it's buy electric cars! Duh. Gas thru the roof, electric bills rising etc. All the while they drive around in SUVs, fly in their airplanes and try to tell us how we should work to save the environment while they collect a govt paycheck. God help us all.

  • Leroy

    It's just a tool to raise government revenue. To push the middle class down further. To oppress the people and grow bigger government

    • Aaron

      We already have the most progressive tax system in the world yet it's not enough. Since 2000 taxes have increased by 50% which should be enough to sustain government but spending has increased by more than 100%. Progressive policies are bankrupting the half of Americans who actually pay taxes.

  • Spoton

    You are on it man. They think we can't think for ourselves so they will do it for us all the while living on a govt paycheck while the rest of us dummies work.

  • Aaron

    Summary. Congress wouldn't pass cap and trade so the EPA did.

  • The bookman

    Hoppy,

    You do realize that this plan REQUIRES that we will continue to burn coal, and in 2030, will still be getting 30% of our electricity from coal. This plan is more of a "war on users," not coal. Sure they have packaged their arguments well to appease the environmentalists who contribute and vote in large numbers, but the plan provides that end users of coal, and to a lesser degree NG, generated electricity pay more for the commodity. Of course the differential increase will be used as a subsidy for the development of alternatives to fossil fuels for electrical generation, and to invest in technologies that reduce emissions.

    You see this in Germany where they heavily invested in wind and solar, to a degree that they actually oversupplied the grid. By shutting down their base load nuclear supply, they must use coal fired plants at reduced, non profitable capacities to generate what solar and wind can't consistently supply. Wind and solar have priority to the grid, so although they must have the coal to balance out, they provide the preference to wind and solar forcing coal to operate at below efficient levels, and at a loss.

    The US plan simply bypasses the error the Germans made by fleecing the customer of coal fueled power and developing an alternative power complex with those funds, all in a backdrop of saving the planet. Our emissions will only slightly decrease, while the rest of the world increases their footprint. The President can go out and make statements that the world will have to leave 2/3 of all fossil fuels in the ground unburned to make a difference in global warming, yet their plan is to burn, baby burn.

    Like the anthropogenic global warming/cooling/climate change debate, the war on coal is an elaborate ruse about money, how those who can fleece it can get it, and who they give it to so that they can maintain political power.

    • J the C

      It's the American way, Bookman!

      • The bookman

        How so? I'm not familiar with that version of our history. The American Way I know involves hard work, a great idea, and the fulfillment of a need or demand in the largest consumer marketplace in the world.

        I would describe the current push toward alternative energy as a government supported fraudulent scheme that requires one faction of industry to subsidize the success of another. That's not competition. That is using politics to pick winers and losers.

        • Aaron

          Or in Mr. Obama's case, losers and losers as that seems all that he's good at.

    • Hop'sHip

      Thanks Bookie. You made it simple. One side (yours) is for low prices, jobs and freedom while the other side is about greed and control.

      • Aaron

        Of the two sides, I believe the left is less elastic but then that's merely the opinion of an average psychopath.

    • Shadow

      Simple question. Where do you get light when the Sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow? Candles. Wind and Solar is a joke at this point in time. There aren't enough batteries to store the energy needed in the dark. Those that think wind and solar will take over are drinking Kool-Aid. The only solution is to go nuclear but no one wants that in their back yard.

      • AX MAN

        Don't worry about the wind not blowing, Shadow, as long as we have Bookman, we are going to be okay.

        • The bookman

          You may not like the content of the "wind," but at least I'm not blowing smoke.

          • AX MAN

            You apparently wear smoke color glasses

      • Aaron

        When she's to be more viable then solar, which is the true Joe and renewable energy. Biomass provides more energy than solar but if you look at where the subsidies are going, it is the Solyndra's of the world reaping taxpayer dollars. Even at that Sellers deal cost five times as much is every other source to provide. When these people town solar as a viable energy supply, it's a pipe dream.

        • Hillboy

          gotta love auto-correct... If you include corn ethanol with biomass, it is debatable whether it even produces as much energy as it consumes. As currently set up, it is nothing more than a handout to big agriculture concerns. Another example of our screwed up agricultural policy. Why are we subsidizing farmers to grow corn in parts of the country where corn will not grow without irrigation?

          • Aaron

            I agree completely.

      • The bookman

        That's not what is happening on Germany. They have an oversupply, at times, of energy available to the grid because of there abundant investment in wind and solar. They closed prematurely all of their nuclear plants because of Fukushima. They then reopened coal fired plants to meet base demand, and require them to operate at a loss. It is a disaster, just as relying on CSS would be here. There is no real substitute for coal and gas in our energy paradigm.

        • The bookman

          Sorry for the typos! Yeesh!

  • Jim N Charledton

    Skippy,

    Almost 6 years and you're just now getting this. Well thank you Captain Obvious for this Woodward & Bernstein scoop.

    All I got
    I'm Jim N So Charleston
    L8

    • Shadow

      Some how I don't understand your comment.

  • ShinnstonGuy

    Hop, this is simply a great example of a psychological study, because this whole topic comes down to one's mindset, and thus political leanings. Progressives are interested in the future and creating a better tomorrow, so reducing pollution today is a key in their agenda. Conservatives, meanwhile, are traditionally focused on the "here and now". Those are the folks that are worried about rising electric bills. It's simple: the two sides only agree when something crosses the divide. Recycling, for instance, is not that hard or costly so it appeals to the conservatives, but is believed to save the planet so it also appeals to the progressives. If the EPA wants to calm the folks down that live in places like WV, they need to ease up a bit AND announce initiatives to help scientists move forward with cheaper alternatives to clean energy. Otherwise, we will continue to argue about this each day.

  • Silas Lynch

    It appears the 4 out of 10 that are communist are getting testy.

    Tear down this wall around the coal fields, Mr. Obama......

  • Shadow

    Hoppy, I think you should revise your definition of a "straight shooter". The definition that I work with doesn't include a game player. She is just another Obummer Clone with the same perchance to lie.

  • Hop'sHip

    Poll question: "Do you support the communist Obama's program to destroy jobs, drive up energy bills and actually increase pollution?"

    Only 4 of 10 support such action? I think you are winning this war you declared, Hoppy.

    • J the Cjkc

      +1