Obama's War on Coal Takes a New Turn

Cap-and-trade legislation may have failed in Congress in 2010, but that doesn’t mean that this is the last we will hear from this economically-harmful policy.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Clean Air Act has been busily proposing and finalizing nearly 200 major policy rules aimed at curbing carbon and other particulate emissions. This despite the fact that the Clean Air Act was never intended for this purpose and widespread opposition exists among the business community, citizens and states.

One particular regulation that is generating deep concern among the business community is the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology rule or better know as the MACT rule. This rule would require coal-fired plants to reduce emissions of particular toxic air pollutants.

The big problem with this is MACT would require coal-fired power plants to install very costly equipment to comply with the regulation. In some cases, these companies simply can’t afford to buy the equipment and for others the needed equipment isn’t commercially available.

If this rule is implemented, it would force the shut down of many coal-fired power plants. For states like Ohio, who rely on coal power for 90 percent of their energy, this is a major problem. According to some estimates, enough coal-fired power plants would close to equal about 30-70 gigawatts of electricity generated nationwide. A single gigawatt of energy can power about 750,000 homes.

In a time where national unemployment hovers around 9 percent, these regulations threaten to lead to more job losses and do some serious damage to the economy. The American Legislative Exchange Council estimated that the EPA regulation will eliminate 2.5 million jobs, depress investment by $300 billion by 2014 and reduce GDP by up to $500 billion.

Many states and local communities are already voicing strong concern about the EPA’s regulations. States like Michigan and Utah have claimed that the EPA has overstepped their regulatory jurisdiction and urged the U.S. Congress to intervene and provide much needed oversight over the agency.

More citizens, communities and states need to join in the call for Congress to intervene if the EPA is to be reined before it does the anticipated damage to our economy, which recent speculation has suggested could be headed for more trouble.

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