EPA to Coal Country: Drop Dead

by Alexander Kazam

Surprise: The GAO predicts that two new EPA coal regulations will cause a significant increase in electricity prices and create serious “reliability challenges” in many coal-dependent areas of the country. Via the Hill (my emphasis):

The GAO report said between 2 and 12 percent of coal-fired electric capacity would come offline as a result of the rules… The report also said adhering to the rules would be tougher in coal-heavy states, most of which are located in the South. It noted electricity rates could rise as much as 13 percent, though over time fluctuations might be less than historical levels.

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D., W.V.), who commissioned the report, mysteriously calls it a “victory for EPA supporters.” But I wouldn’t count on President Obama to trumpet these results in his campaign to win over the citizens of coal country in key swing states.

Coal accounts for about half of U.S. electricity production, the GAO notes, and upwards of 70 percent in Ohio, Kentucky, New Mexico, and West Virginia. In the Midwest, nearly a fifth of coal-fired electricity capacity could be taken offline. Costs to power companies of complying with these rules are estimated at $16 to $21 billion annually.

Put this together with EPA regulations announced earlier this year, which would in effect ban new coal-fired electricity production in the United States, and you are potentially looking at much higher prices for the energy that people use to run their homes and businesses.

On the one hand, Obama claims to follow an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. On the other, his EPA and Department of Energy wage a war on coal through sweeping regulations and subsidies to coal competitors. (If you think war is an unfair metaphor, consider the words of this fallen EPA administrator.)

And as Kevin Williamson points out, the attack on coal will likely end up shifting production to older, dirtier plants in countries such as China, which already uses more coal than the United States, Japan, and Europe combined.

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