“The EPA has ignored the concerns of thousands of American workers and millions of consumers that rely on affordable and reliable coal-based electricity to power their factories and light their homes,” said Hal Quinn, president and CEO, National Mining Association. “At every opportunity, the EPA has chosen the most costly and economically damaging options over a more prudent and balanced approach for achieving continued emission reductions at our nation’s power plants.”
“The final language of the Environmental Protection Agency rule requiring maximum achievable control technology for the nation’s power plants shows just how tone-deaf the Obama administration and the EPA have become when dealing with issues that will affect coal miners, their families and their communities,” said Cecil E. Roberts, president, United Mine Workers of America. “Instead of taking a reasonable approach that gives utilities the time they need to meet the stringent requirements set by these rules, the White House and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson have decided to stick with rigid requirements that will lead to the premature closing of dozens of power plants around the nation and the potential loss of 56,000 megawatts of electric generation capacity.”
According to the EPA, more than half of all coal-fired power plants already deploy pollution control technologies that will help them meet these achievable standards. Once final, these standards will level the playing field by ensuring the remaining plants take similar steps to decrease dangerous pollutants. The agency estimates that manufacturing, engineering, installing and maintaining the pollution controls to meet these standards will provide employment for thousands, potentially including 46,000 short-term construction jobs and 8,000 long-term utility jobs.
“The cumulative economic impact of this and other rules pouring out of the EPA has been spared rigorous analysis—leading many experts to project dire cost increases and threats to the reliability of the nation’s electricity supply,” Quinn said. “Unfortunately, consumers and businesses will not be spared the projected 25% increase in the cost of electricity nor the consequences of a far less reliable electricity grid that must somehow compensate for the loss of one-fourth or more of coal-based generation.”
As part of the commitment to maximize flexibilities under the law, the standards are accompanied by a Presidential Memorandum that directs the EPA to use tools provided in the Clean Air Act to implement the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards in a cost-effective manner that ensures electric reliability. For example, under these standards, the EPA is not only providing the standard three years for compliance, but also encouraging permitting authorities to make a fourth year broadly available for technology installations, and if still more time is needed, providing a well-defined pathway to address any localized reliability problems should they arise.
“The modest adjustment to the compliance timeline in the MACT standard merely papers over a deeply flawed rule,” Quinn said. “The MACT, along with other EPA requirements, have been needlessly rushed through the regulatory process without the benefit of constructive analysis, meaningful interagency review or candid conversations with the American public about the consequences of these policies to our economic future.
“The NMA will continue to pursue sound public policies that support, rather than discriminate against, using America’s most abundant and secure fuel—U.S. coal—and the men and women who have stood with this country in meeting its electricity needs,” said Quinn.