The PJ Tatler

EPA Chief: The Coal Industry Isn't #DoingJustFine Because of Economics, Not Regulations

And she means it. EPA Chief Lisa Jackson said the following in an interview with the Guardian.

What we’ve done at EPA, because we’ve had to from court order, and it’s long overdue in my opinion, is deal with pollution from coal-fired power plants. Pollution from coal-fired power plants comes from the extraction of the coal in some cases, the burning of the coal, which gives soot and smog-forming pollution, and mercury and lead and arsenic and cadmium and acid gases and then you’ve got to get rid of the ash! …One form of energy has to at least be subject to the same laws as the other forms are. That’s what we’ve been working on as far as coal. I always tell people, it’s not about coal, it’s about the pollution that for too long has been associated with coal.

And then coal has another pollution problem, and that’s carbon pollution: it’s the most carbon-intense fossil fuel. And the president invested in carbon capture and sequestration technology as part of the Recovery Act. He said all along, I’m from a coal state, so I believe that if there’s going to be a future for coal it has to be one that deals with carbon pollution, with climate change. So in my opinion the problem for coal right now is entirely economic. The natural gas that this country has and is continuing to develop is cheaper right now on average. And so people who are making investment decisions are not unmindful of that — how could you expect them to be? It just happens that at the same time, these rules are coming in place that make it clear that you cannot continue to operate a 30-, 40-, or 50-year old plant and not control the pollution that comes with it.

Emphasis added. Note that Jackson declares that coal’s problem is economic, before describing several regulatory reasons that coal is having problems. She also blames the EPA’s power grabs on a court order, when her own EPA had be reined by courts on a landmark private property case. Up is down.

Jackson continued:

The battle today is about who can get the screaming headline out first. Because, unfortunately, the way the media works, the screaming headline lives forever, and then you spend forever trying to get a headline even half as big that says oh, that wasn’t true. So whether it’s climate change and the myriad reports about that, whether it’s people in rural America who’ve been told all manner of untruths about the work we’re doing — whether it’s that we’re going to regulate farm dust further, or that we’re going to regulate spilled milk, no matter how many times we say it, because their main sources of information are not really being truthful in how they’re giving them information, we spend an awful lot of time trying to explain to people what we’re really doing.

What is the EPA really doing? According to one report it’s using drone aircraft over private farmland. According to another, it sends armed agents to intimidate a private citizen for questioning Al “crucify ’em” Armendariz. According to another, Lisa Jackson’s EPA is setting up for yet another private property power grab, by classifying ditches and gullies that don’t usually have any water in them as waterways for the purpose of regulating land use. According to EPA Region 1 administrator Curt Spalding, EPA would like to tell coal towns to just go away, but it can’t. Before he resigned, regional administrator Al Armendariz was the happy crucifier of American businesses.

Is there any truth to any of these stories? The Guardian didn’t bother to ask, because its interview was meant to endear Jackson to the Guardian’s leftwing audience. But at least we know from Lisa Jackson that the EPA isn’t seeking to regulate spilled milk. Mike Bloomberg is probably on that case anyway.

Another cat out of the EPA bag: Lisa Jackson likes high gas prices.

There are those who would like us to drop everything and say, time for another, a second fossil fuel boom, and the president is saying, but the future for our country is around clean energy, renewables, and getting that technology perfected and ready at a commercial scale here so we can sell it abroad. That will make our country stronger and create jobs as well. We should not put all our eggs in any one basket. And we should not, just because we have it, assume that means we should use fuels as though we have it — because energy independence requires a certain reduced demand. We saw reduction in demand for gasoline, refined oil, this year, and part of the reason is that Americans have a choice to buy cars and trucks that use less of it. And that’s good for our economy. So the money can go somewhere else.

Part of the drop in demand has to do with the price of a gallon of gas: What costs more, Americans will buy less of. Which leads to less economic activity. Is that also good for the economy? The May jobs numbers suggest that it is not.