Sky-High Electric Bills Courtesy of Obama EPA's War on Coal: As Obama's EPA Institutes New Regulations on Coal-Fired Power Plants, the Number of Operating Plants Will Steadily Dwindle, Causing Increased Costs and Job Loss

By Jasper, William F. | The New American, May 7, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Sky-High Electric Bills Courtesy of Obama EPA's War on Coal: As Obama's EPA Institutes New Regulations on Coal-Fired Power Plants, the Number of Operating Plants Will Steadily Dwindle, Causing Increased Costs and Job Loss


Jasper, William F., The New American


Electricity rates are indeed set to sky-rocket, as Barack Obama predicted back in 2008, while he was still a freshman Senator and ambitiously aspiring to White House occupancy. The Obama administration's new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on coal-fired electrical power generation, if allowed to go into effect, will mean that even a lot of us who can't afford it will "have to pay more per unit of electricity." But the pain will be much more severe than merely having to change our light bulbs.

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A Grim Scenario

If Congress doesn't act to rein in the EPA's all-out war on coal, we will all be paying much higher electrical rates--and higher prices for just about everything else, since virtually everything we eat, drink, wear, and use requires energy for production and transportation. Thousands of coal-mining jobs are on the chopping block, of course, but hundreds of thousands of other jobs spread across all sectors of our economy are on the same chopping block. For businesses that are struggling to remain viable in this ongoing recession, energy costs are critical and even a slight uptick in rates can be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

The billions of dollars in compliance costs that the Environmental Protection Agency is mandating for coal-fired electrical plants will be that straw for many businesses, as those costs get passed on. Dozens of power plants, however, are simply shutting down; the costs of compliance are simply too high. So, another pain we may soon experience is an increase in rolling brownouts and blackouts.

In July 2011, Georgia Power Company announced that it would be closing three coal-fired power plants over the next two years, due to the EPA's new regulations.

"Georgia gets more than half its energy from coal, and Georgia Power gets 60 percent or more from coal," noted Benita Dodd, vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. "So this is going to become a very expensive venture for Georgia ratepayers." Georgia electricity customers will be socked by a formidable one-two economic punch, Dodd explained. "The closures are going to hurt ratepayers now, but the regulations are going to hurt when they're implemented." Dodd said. "These regulations are indefensible, they're unnecessary, and they're incredibly expensive."

The same grim scenario is rolling out across much of the nation. "The impact of these EPA rules will be felt most severely in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which together account for more than a fourth of all U.S. manufacturing," writes Paul Driessen, in his 2001 report, The EPA's Unrelenting Power Grab, published by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. "These states," notes Driessen "rely on coal to generate 65-92% of their electricity, which keeps costs down for hundreds of companies that remain competitive nationally and internationally primarily because they can utilize energy-intensive industrial boilers, furnaces and electrical machinery, to boost their productivity per worker-hour: 6.9 to 9.4 cents per kilowatt-hour in those six states, versus 11 to 17 cents per kWh in states that generate 1-30% of their electricity with coal."

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In December 2011, the Associated Press reported that "32 mostly coal-fired power plants in a dozen states will be forced to shut down and an additional 36 might have to close because of new federal air pollution regulations." The AP also published a list of the plants that would be shuttered. However, that list quickly became obsolete; as utilities crunched the numbers and surveyed the costs, more began throwing in the towel.

Politics in Play

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, condemned EPA's at-tack on coal in unsparing terms. "It's hard to imagine that the Obama EPA is announcing a massive energy tax today on Americans at a time when they are already reeling from skyrocketing gas prices," Inhofe stated.

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