Increased regulations on carbon emissions for new power plants are "dangerous," the president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Mike Duncan charged in an exclusive Newsmax interview.
"Those who believe that we can get by without coal are sticking their heads in the sand," he told Newsmax TV. "These regulations are dangerous, they're economically destructive to the people of this country, and I'm hoping that people will rise up and let them know that. For the first time ever our federal government is choosing sides. They say they have an all-of-the-above program, but they're trying to cut coal out by de facto banning the coal plants in this country."
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Duncan also argued that the new EPA regulations, announced last week by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, could in fact harm the environment in the long run "They could because they're not helping innovation. They're discouraging innovation," he explained.
"We recognize that carbon sequestration in the future will be viable for coal plants, and we have some plants that are being tested in this country, but none are ready commercially at this point to be deployed. And that's a flaw in the logic, because under the law that they're relying on they have to use proven technology," he said.
"We have a first-generation plant that's under construction in Kemper, Miss., that should be up and running in 2014. There is a plant in Canada, a very small plant, that will be up and running very soon. But these cost a lot of money and the one in Mississippi had a lot of federal subsidy to it. That's always the way it is."
Duncan, a former Republican National Committee chairman, continued, "Look at cell phones. Think how much a cell phone cost when they first came out. They looked like bricks, they were very expensive, most people couldn't afford them, but as innovation happened and as we made incremental progress then it got to the point where almost everyone could afford a cell phone now.
"It's the same with biotechnology and the EPA is standing in our way of having premier air in this country with this regulation."
As for whether the regulations would take away the incentive to work on this new technology, Duncan said, "Well, see, the 463-page document that they're talking about basically admits that this will keep new plants from being constructed.
"People are going to go into an uncertain market and make these investments with the cost that's there now. It will add approximately $1 billion in cost to a plant that goes in now and we wouldn't be able to do this incrementally to test its second generational technology that brings our cost down.
"And you ask why?" he continued. "The reason is because it's huge cost increases for the American public, for individuals in their homes and for small businesses on Main Street and for those that are making things in this country. It's going to make us competitively disadvantaged in the world."
Asked whether he thinks the EPA actually intends to push Americans towards other sources of energy such as natural gas, Duncan responded, "Well if that's what they're trying to do, then over a period of time they are going to substantially increase the cost to the American consumers because when we have fewer choices possible, prices will go up and it goes against what they've been saying."
"This is why I said that they're talking out of both sides of their mouth. They say they want to have an all-of-the-above energy policy that they've got this de facto ban on new coal plants. It's bad policy for the country," he added.
Still, Duncan maintained the regulations won't spell the end of the coal industry. "We're going to have to have coal. Solar is not ready, wind is not ready, there's not enough hydro, people are not allowing new nuclear plants to go on, there's not enough capacity in the natural gas market.
"If we're to continue to flipping the switch and having electricity come on in this country, coal is going to be part of it," he explained.
"Part of my problem with the administration is they are pushing policies that will increase the average cost. In 2011, the average family spent about $110 on electricity. That's double what they spent a decade ago and those prices are going to skyrocket.
"If you're in a state that has more than 50 percent of your electricity produced by coal, your average kilowatt per hour is 8.8 cents. If you're in a state that doesn't, it's 11 percent higher.
Duncan continued, "Overall energy costs for a family below the medium income in this country is about 20 percent of their budget and that continues to go up. So who gets hit hardest? People that are on a fixed income."
If people want to speak out on the issue, Duncan suggested they either comment on the EPA website or the coalition's site, www.cleancoalusa.com or write to their congressman, the White House, and the EPA administrator.
"Demand that there be an economic analysis of this. This is going way too quickly. The American people aren't ready for this. Congress has really not spoken to this issue and they need to," he said.
"They're taking the Clean Air Act, that really wasn't suited for this, and the person who drafted the law has said that… this is not what it was intended for and they're trying to enforce policy through this, and we need to slow that process down.
"We need to let the EPA know that this is wrongheaded solution. And if they think that coal's not going to be a part of the American energy stock in the future, they've got their head in the sand."
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