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War on Coal Escalates: Over 200 Power Plants Expected to Close, Thousands of Jobs to Disappear

The administration’s war on coal and America’s abundant, reliable energy continues to gain momentum as the nation’s power sector faces EIA coal trainan increasingly hostile regulatory environment. Reuters recently chronicled that more than 200 of the nation’s coal-fired power plants have announced plans to retire over the next decade in addition to the 138 units that have already shut down in the past five years. Estimates project this decline in coal-fired power generation could result in the loss of up to 100,000 megawatts of electricity across the country.

Coal is one of America’s most abundant and affordable sources of fuel and supports over 700,000 American jobs. It remains the country’s largest source of electricity, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the nation’s electric generation. But this critical power source, along with tens of thousands of jobs, is being threatened by costly regulations stemming from President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency.

Despite a reduction in U.S. emissions over the past decade, the Obama administration has announced plans to impose expensive greenhouse gas regulations on new and existing power plants, in addition to a suite of costly new power rules already proposed or issued by EPA. These rules combined will drive up energy prices, send American jobs overseas, and have the potential to shut down America’s coal industry.

Both Republicans and Democrats have lamented the administration’s “war on coal.” In Sunday’s Washington Post, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) expressed, "You cannot describe this any differently than as a war on coal, and not just in West Virginia or the U.S. but on a global scale. … They’re using every tool they have to destroy the most abundant, reliable and affordable resource that we have.”

It is critical our nation’s leaders consider the consequences of regulatory actions on America’s economy and jobs. To help protect against further job losses and to ensure Americans continue to have access to affordable and reliable electricity, the House of Representatives recently approved the Energy Consumers Relief Act.

This commonsense legislation, authored by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), places greater interagency checks and balances on the EPA to prevent implementation of regulations that threaten to destroy jobs and increase energy prices for American job creators and families. A strong and robust economy depends on affordable energy, which is why coal must continue to play an essential role in our nation’s energy mix. To learn more about H.R. 1582, the Energy Consumers Relief Act, click here or see below.

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The Energy Consumers Relief Act (H.R. 1582)

April 17, 2013

Legislation Protects Consumers by Requiring Greater Inter-Agency Review for Energy-Related Regulations Costing over $1 Billion

The Energy Consumers Relief Act will help protect Americans from new billion-dollar Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that may increase energy prices and destroy jobs. The bill would ensure that there is greater transparency, interagency review, and oversight of EPA’s most expensive energy rules. Specifically, the legislation will:

  • Provide that before the EPA finalizes an energy-related rule costing more than $1 billion, the agency must submit a report to Congress detailing certain cost, benefit, energy price, and job impacts.
  • Prohibit EPA from finalizing a rule if the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with other relevant agencies, determines the rule would cause significant adverse effects to the economy.

EPA’s list of billion-dollar rules is long and still growing. Over the past four and a half years, EPA has proposed or finalized a number of major new rules imposing billions of dollars in compliance costs, and EPA currently has more regulatory actions under review by OMB than any other agency. Examples of EPA’s most expensive energy-related rules affecting energy prices or jobs include:

  • EPA’s Utility MACT rule is estimated by the agency to cost up to $9.6 billion annually continuing over decades. Independent analysts estimate that this rule is the most expensive regulation the EPA has ever issued for power plants, and an independent analysis suggests more than $80 billion in new capital will be required by 2015. Total compliance costs could total over a hundred billion dollars.
  • EPA’s revised Boiler MACT rule is estimated by EPA to impose new costs of $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion annually. IHS Global Insight estimates that every $1 billion spent in complying with these regulations will put 16,000 jobs at risk and reduce U.S. GDP by as much as $1.2 billion.
  • EPA’s proposed Tier 3 rule is estimated by EPA to cost $2 billion annually beginning in 2017, rising to $3.4 billion annually once fully implemented in 2030. Industry estimates suggest the new regulation could add up to 9 cents to the cost of a gallon of gasoline.

In addition to the rules already dispensed by EPA, the agency is expected to finalize additional, large-scale regulations in the president’s second term that could lead to higher energy prices and job losses. Outlining his climate change plan, President Obama recently announced EPA would move forward with expensive new greenhouse gas standards for new and existing power plants, greatly expanding the administration’s “war on coal”:

  • The president’s plan for new power plant emissions standards is just the latest attack in the administration’s war on jobs and affordable energy. These new regulations come in addition to a suite of other EPA power plant rules that are estimated to have already contributed to the announced shutdown of 288 power plant units across 32 states.
  • EPA’s overreaching power plant and other standards are expected to be so expensive and so unworkable they could effectively shut down the American coal industry. Taking this affordable and reliable energy source out of America’s energy mix would threaten electric reliability, raise energy costs, and handicap our manufacturing and other vital sectors of our economy.

Affordable and reliable energy is critical for a growing economy and a healthy America. H.R. 1582 provides a commonsense “look before you leap” approach to regulation to help prevent billion-dollar EPA rules that could eliminate yet more American jobs and increase energy prices on American households and businesses. With more EPA billion-dollar energy-related rules on the horizon, it is imperative that we understand the impacts of these rules on jobs and the economy before they are implemented.

Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-2927 tel
(202) 225-1919 fax

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