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EPA Says ‘Science Is Clear’ as Agency Imposes Tough New Coal Rules

U.S. Chamber says regulation could decrease a family’s disposable income by $3,400 per year and cost 200,000-plus jobs.

Bill Straub


June 2, 2014 - 3:58 pm

WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency has imposed a set of new air quality standards on the nation’s coal-burning power plants aimed at slashing carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 30 percent within 16 years.

The long-anticipated new rules, announced by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy under the direction of President Obama, mandate that the power sector use cleaner energy sources and cut energy waste to address issues of national health and global climate change. They take effect in 2015.

“Although we limit pollutants like mercury, sulfur, and arsenic, currently, there are no limits on carbon pollution from power plants, our nation’s largest source,” McCarthy said. “For the sake of our families’ health and our kids’ future, we have a moral obligation to act on climate. When we do, we’ll turn climate risk into business opportunity, we’ll spur innovation and investment, and we’ll build a world-leading clean energy economy.”

There are about 600 coal-fired power plants across America generating about 40 percent of the nation’s electricity. Those plants also are responsible for about one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions, says the EPA. Last October, the agency imposed strict new greenhouse gas emissions standards on newly constructed power plants. This move completes the circle.

“The science is clear, the risks are clear and the high costs of climate inaction keep piling up,” McCarthy said. “Rising temperatures bring more smog, more asthma, and longer allergy seasons. If your kid doesn’t use an inhaler, consider yourself a lucky parent, because 1 in 10 children in the U.S. suffers from asthma. Carbon pollution from power plants comes packaged with other dangerous pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide, putting our families at even more risk.”

Objections came swiftly. Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the regulations “add immense cost and regulatory burdens on America’s job creators.”

“They will have a profound effect on the economy, on businesses and on families,” Donohue said.

Last week, the Chamber released a report maintaining that a regulation like the one promulgated by the administration will decrease a family’s disposable income by $3,400 per year and increase their electricity bills by $200. The report also estimates a loss of 224,000 jobs per year between 2014 and 2030.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the rule is “all pain and no gain,” asserting that it is expected to have a less than 2 percent impact on carbon emissions reductions worldwide because other large producers like China and India are not involved.

“American families and businesses will have to shoulder all the costs and burden from this rule without contributing to any significant reduction in global carbon emissions,” Vitter said.

Businesses and Republicans weren’t the only ones protesting. Democrats from coal states, like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, said the regulation “does little to address the global problem with global solutions.”

“Instead, today’s rule appears to be more about desirability rather than reliability or feasibility, with little regard for rising consumer prices, the effects on jobs and the impact on the reliability of our electric grid,” Manchin said, adding that the proposed rules “are not based on any existing technology that has been proven on a commercial scale.”

But environmental groups celebrated. Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the administration’s initiative “a giant leap forward in protecting the health of all Americans and future generations.”

“Strong carbon pollution standards will be good for our health, good for our economy and good for our children and all future generations.”

Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, called the new regulation “the biggest step we’ve ever taken for the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced.”

“It helps meet our moral obligation to future generations to act on climate change at a time when we’re seeing impacts on our health and our communities nationwide,” Karpinski said. “This is a plan that can be shaped by the states, giving Governors the flexibility they need. The American people support these commonsense safeguards and are sick of the lie that pollution has to be the fuel of our economic engine. The desperate and dirty opponents of these safeguards are using a failed, outdated playbook to protect their profits.”

In a conference call involving representatives of public health groups, Obama asserted that “climate change is real” and “has serious impacts.” He predicted that electricity bills “will shrink as these standards spur investment in energy efficiency, cutting waste and ultimately we’re going to be saving money for homes and for businesses.”

“Now, I promise you, you will hear from critics who say the same thing they always say, that these guidelines will kill jobs or crush the economy,” Obama said. “What we’ve seen every time, is that these claims are debunked when you actually give workers and businesses the tools and the incentive they need to innovate.  When Americans are called on to innovate, that’s what we do — whether it’s making more fuel-efficient cars or more fuel-efficient appliances, or making sure that we are putting in place the kinds of equipment that prevents harm to the ozone layer and eliminates acid rain.”

“At every one of these steps, there have been folks who have said it can’t be done.  There have been naysayers who said this is going to destroy jobs and destroy industry. And it doesn’t happen because once we have a clear target to meet, we typically meet it. And we find the best ways to do it.”

Under the proposal, states will be given a year to develop plans to meet EPA carbon reduction targets. States will be provided with the authority to meet the standards in several ways, including via power plant improvements, switching from coal to natural gas, improving energy efficiency and embracing renewable energy in areas outside of the coal-fired plans. States that fail to settle on effective plans will have one implemented by the EPA.

McCarthy said failing to act to reduce carbon emissions is already costing the U.S. money, noting that 2012 was the second most expensive year in U.S. history for natural disasters, which some scientists believe could be related to global warming.

“Even the largest sectors of our economy buckle under the pressures of a changing climate and when they give way, so do businesses that support them, and local economics that depend on them,” McCarthy said. “As our seas rise, so do insurance premiums, property taxes, and food prices. If we do nothing, in our grandkids’ lifetimes, temperatures could rise 10 degrees and seas could rise four feet.”

“This is not just about disappearing polar bears or melting ice caps,” she said. “This is about protecting our health and our homes. This is about protecting local economies and jobs.”

Despite objections, polls establish that most people approve of the idea of the federal government reducing greenhouse gas emissions even if it results in higher energy costs. A Washington Post-ABC News Poll determined that 70 percent of those surveyed support carbon limits on existing power plants and expressed a willingness to pay an extra $20 a month to do so.

Foes already are talking about filing suit to halt implementation but that could prove difficult. The U.S. Supreme Court in a number of recent rulings has held that the EPA has broad authority to regulate emissions.

In a 6-2 ruling on May 3, the high court held that the EPA has the authority to regulate emissions produced by coal-fired power plants in order to protect downwind states from deleterious effects of pollution.

Washington freelancer Bill Straub is former White House correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
With 90+& of E.P.A. workers being non-essential it's clear that the agency mostly a huge waste of tax payer money.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
“As our seas rise, ...."

Wha????????? How much have the seas risen? Please give me a number.

Yeah, thought so......
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Saw this comment on Jo Nova's site, partially edited:

This 30% reduction could be done in less than a month if the coal fired generators had any balls...

1.. Call special general meetings by all of the coal fired operators.

2.. Debate whether it is permissible for the generators to destroy the world.

3.. Announce that they are closing down coal fired generation immediately. At the same time state that delivery contracts are immoral (as they require the death of the Earth) and therefore unenforcible.

4.. Wait a week until the President and all his men have been impeached and jailed.

5.. Restart the death producing generating plants.

Think that'll make them squeal?

How 'bout those LIVs with their A/C, heat and TVs cut off?

39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (33)
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It's official. The Democrats hate the poor. Those are the people who are going to have to choose between freezing and starving. Or taking charity, which is, come to think of it, what Obamacare requires.

We need to have comprehensive legislation outlawing these fake "agreements" which are often ways to circumvent the law. And which would cancel previous ones with prejudice. For example, if the EEO made a company sign an agreement that imposed racial quotas, the agreement would be void and the company exempt from all further action.

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Carbon Dioxide is dirty?
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
The worst thing about The Left is their blatant dishonesty.
The way McCarthy worded this, you would think that electrical generating stations were spewing large chunks of coal on everyone in the area with their 'carbon pollution', never mentioning that every breathing animal (and that includes man/woman/child/dog/cat/etc.) exhales CO2 with every breath - and that CO2 is vital for plant life across the globe. No CO2, No Trees!
Then to add injury to insult, she throws the asthma card on the table, when any sentient person knows that the great majority of these kids have asthma due to the cloistered, protected, lives their parents have kept them in.
Kids who grow up in a healthy, outdoors environment don't get asthma because their bodies develop the anti-bodies to combat an entire spectrum of disease and illness that living in a bubble deprives you of - plus they get needed exercise.
All I can say is that if they refuse to mend their ways, we need to take this toy (EPA) away from them.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just read: THE AGE OF GLOBAL WARMING: A HISTORY by Rupert Darwall which identifies sinful scientists, egotistical economists, malevolent media and pandering politicians and contradicts everything the O admin pushes regarding CAGW.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
What a horrible degradation of the term "science". The current level of CO2 is ~400 ppm (0.004% of the atmosphere). Carbon dioxide is essential for life on Earth. It's ranged from ~120ppm to 30,000 ppm (0.3%), yet the planet didn't "burn up", nor was it "tipped into an unstopppable disaster". Below about ~120 ppm all plant life would die.

Carbon Dioxide provides about 4% of the "greenhouse effect" the Earth experiences. Water vapor provides 95%, and all other sources provide the other 1%. The "warming" provided by CO2 is logarithmic - beyond about 650ppm there is no additional "warming", regardless of how much CO2 is dumped into the atmosphere. Paleochemistry has dertermined that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has ranged from about 450 to 1650 ppm for most of the planet's existence. Plants and animals are still here.

Scientists have estimated (God, how I hate that word! It means "I pulled the numbers out of my butt".) that man adds about 5% of the increase in CO2 that's been observed over the last 150 years. Yet 5% of 4% (0.2%) are supposed to be driving "cataclysmic anthropogenic climate change", raising the sea levels six feet, causing runaway heating, and extraordinary weather events. Anybody see a problem with this?

There are plenty of places where one can learn the truth about the great climate change fraud. I recommend Anthony Watts' "Watts up with That (WUWT)", "Bishop's Hill", Dr. Roy Spencer's website, Dr. Fred Singer's excellent site (linked from WUWT), the Global Warming Policy Foundation page, Dr. Judith Curry's site, and a dozen or so others that totally destroy the made-up "science" of "Glowbull Worming". The actions of the EPA have no foundation in science, and and need to be reversed immediately before they destroy the United States.

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've just awoken from a sixty nine year hibernation. Did Hitler win?
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
the more the administration talks about "science" , the more i am to question science . science is constantly changed or re-defined . this emphasis occurs daily, weekly, monthly,yearly , seemingly most recently based on polotics .
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Screwed again! thanks Obama.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I work in power generation. There’s no possible way that these goals can be met, except for the unstated (and obvious) goal of shuttering most coal-powered plants.

I actually support solar and wind power, for supplemental spot power. There’s no way in hell that they can now -or ever- power the grid in this country, unless there’s a technological breakthrough within the next few years. Or, and this is probably more desirable for the progs, if 80%-90% of the population simply dies off. The progs will celebrate the eradication of those peasants. At least until they realize that no one is making food, maintaining road, or building things anymore. It’ll be utopia, if by “utopia” you mean hell on earth.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Anytime the left says, "the sience is clear", you can be sure of two things. 1) They're lying. And 2) It's going to cost you plenty.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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