Tags: coal | Obama | EPA | power

The Lights Are Out in the White House

By    |   Thursday, 16 April 2015 08:35 AM

Recently there was a partial blackout in the White House that shut down some agencies. Upon investigation by media, the problem was traced to a fire at a transfer station in Maryland, which interrupted electric distribution. In what sounds like a cosmic joke, this would not have occurred if the government hadn't shut down a coal-fired plant in Virginia that once served Washington.

We have to wonder what it's going to take to convince the Obama administration and its small group of rabid environmentalists that shutting down coal-fired plants is folly. Even an in-your-face blackout couldn't convince President Obama that he is waging an ill-conceived war against coal.

This war will eliminate some 500,000 energy jobs. But worse, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates will retire about one-third of our coal-fired power plants by 2020. This equals the generating capacity to supply electricity to the homes of about 57 million Americans.

A study by the consultancy Energy Ventures Analysis, commissioned by Peabody Energy, calculates that the Clean Energy Plan will boost annual power and gas costs for residential, commercial and industrial customers by $173 billion in 2020 over what they paid in 2012, a 37 percent increase.

Warner Baxter, CEO of Ameren Corp., notes that even if by some miracle Obama changed his mind about coal-fired plants, due to regulations imposed by the EPA, permits submitted today wouldn't even be approved until 2018. And it can take five to 15 years to build a plant. So recouping this capacity by 2020 is virtually impossible.

As much as we all hope that other forms of energy will take up the slack, it's not going to happen. Solar and wind generation show promise, but they simply won't create the capacity we need.

Meanwhile, states that depend on coal are in deep financial trouble. For example, three years ago Nicholas County in West Virginia had eight working coalmines that took in $1.2 million from coal-taxed revenues. Today, just one mine is operating.

That means West Virginia is not only losing workers, but the drop in tax revenue is resulting in layoffs of municipal employees, including police officers. The war on coal brings casualties everywhere.

The good news is that Republicans are fighting back, alarmed that once again Obama is using the club of EPA to punish coal-mining communities without Congressional involvement.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tired of Obama's overreaching of his authority, wrote in a letter to governors that "Obama is allowing the EPA to wrest control of a state's energy policy."

In response, McConnell's office is contacting governors with a legal blueprint for them to follow to stop the EPA rules in their states. This includes a detailed letter that lays out a carefully researched legal argument as to why states should not comply with Obama's regulations.

Even Mother Jones, usually the scourge of the Right, recently weighed in on the war on coal. They contend that in many communities that have long depended on coal to put food on the table, the toll on communities is terrible. For example, "the head of a small coal-mining company in Kentucky was forced to sell off the business he inherited from his father and lay off workers who were also friends and neighbors."

Don't be surprised to see the Clean Power Plan, like Obamacare, wind up in the Supreme Court.

Last spring, a circuit court reviewed the Clean Power Plan and found fault with the EPA's overreach. In 2008, the D.C. Circuit struck down a far less ambitious EPA rule under exactly the same statutory constraint involved here. Today the agency is again circumventing the checks Congress deliberately built into the Clean Air Act and is distorting it to justify a wide-ranging carbon rule in a way Congress never intended or authorized.

The day of reckoning is coming. A groundswell of people is recognizing that an imperial presidency hurts every American. People who have stood idle while the energy issue has swelled around them will wake up once they see their electricity bills skyrocket. That will get their attention, and we can only hope that it will force this administration to change direction on a failed energy policy. Jobs and the entire economy depend on it.

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Recently there was a partial blackout in the White House that shut down some agencies. Upon investigation by media, the problem was traced to a fire at a transfer station in Maryland, which interrupted electric distribution.
coal, Obama, EPA, power
Thursday, 16 April 2015 08:35 AM
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