The reaction to the announcement was predictably similar. Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association (NMA), was already explaining why this was bad policy on the Sunday morning political talk shows prior to the announcement. The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), which supported President Barack Obama in two election cycles, cried foul and noted how many jobs would be lost by 2030. Exchanges from conservatives and liberals excoriated and extolled the EPA, respectively. After that initial volley, a few of the larger coal companies sent carefully worded press releases explaining why more expensive electricity does not solve any climate problems.
There’s an old expression in the coal business: Stop burning coal and let them freeze to death in the dark. Today, it could be modified to say, let them sweat their tails off in the South. The Heartland Institute equated the EPA’s proposed guidelines to Obamacare for the environment, explaining that it is guaranteed to raise costs, reduce choices, and destroy an existing industry. “By the time the EPA is finished, millions of Americans will be freezing in the dark,” the Heartland Institute said.
Prior to the announcement, the NMA had performed a survey and found that most Americans (76%) were at least somewhat worried that new regulations proposed by the EPA to remove coal-powered electricity from the nation’s energy mix will lead to higher prices for consumers. The national poll also revealed that concern is greatest (88%) among retirees, and these are people living on fixed incomes who are particularly sensitive to cost increases. The survey, according to the NMA, highlighted the very real impact the winter price surge had on household finances and quality of life. Nearly one-fifth (19%) reported that higher electricity costs limited their ability to buy necessities, such as groceries, food and health care — suggesting lower-income households may have been forced to decide between heating their home and eating a meal.
Oddly enough, it’s the people who Democrats claim to represent — middle-class and lower-income families and retirees — who will be impacted the most.
At a time when the U.S. should be investing in a diverse mix of low-cost energy sources to stimulate economic growth, the EPA is leading the country down a path that forces utilities to switch to natural gas or even more expensive renewable sources. The EPA’s decision to marginalize coal, jeopardizes future clean-coal improvement projects such as carbon storage and sequestration and new cleaner burning technologies.
The agency’s previous rules for power plants have pushed the grid to the edge of brownouts. If these regulations are finalized, American consumers would suffer directly from electricity and indirectly from job losses as more business migrate to pursue stable, lower-cost electricity. It’s just another bad decision among a string of bad decisions from this administration from health care to foreign policy.