EPA Wreaks Havoc Across the Country on Jobs and Affordable Energy

August 4, 2014

Workers and families across the country are already suffering the effects of the Obama administration’s costly regulations on the power sector, which are contributing to layoffs and higher energy prices for Americans.

One of the nation’s largest coal producers announced last week plans to layoff over 1,000 employees at coal mines and related facilities in West Virginia, citing EPA actions as a factor. Charleston Daily Mail reports, “Coal giant Alpha Natural Resources revealed plans to shed 1,100 workers at 11 West Virginia surface mines and related operations by mid-October.” The company said in a statement, "EPA regulations are at least partly responsible for more than 360 coal-fired electric generating units in the U.S. closing or switching to natural gas. Nearly one of every five existing coal-fired power plants is closing or converting to other fuel sources, and Central Appalachian coal has been the biggest loser from EPA's actions."

In Alabama, EPA’s rules are forcing coal-fired power plants to close, which officials fear will lead to less fuel diversity and higher prices for ratepayers. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, “Alabama Power said Friday it would close or convert several coal-burning units around the state.” Announcing the closures, Alabama Power’s Vice President for Environmental Affairs Matt Bowden stated, “Federal environmental mandates are forcing us to change how we generate electricity for our customers. … They are putting new restrictions on our ability to provide our customers with the energy they need in a cost-effective manner.” In addition to making energy less affordable, the plant closures and conversions are expected to cause a number of layoffs.

EPA’s regulations have already taken their economic toll on communities nationwide, but many fear the worst consequences are still yet to come. States are still grappling with how they will comply with the agency’s new proposal to limit carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s existing power plants.

Energy industry leaders and state officials in South Dakota met last week to discuss EPA’s proposed plan and its threat to affordable energy. Argus Leader reports, “As new nationwide carbon emissions reductions take effect in South Dakota, utility rates might increase up to 90 percent. The Big Stone coal-fired power plant would virtually be idled, and its $400 million upgrade already underway would be wasted. … PUC Chairman Gary Hanson said he fears that as the initiative affects utilities serving South Dakota, current practices, the price of electricity and jurisdictional boundaries between the states and federal government over regulating power production all could be sacrificed to hit emissions targets.”

Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) called EPA’s proposal “all pain for American consumers and China's gain” in today’s print edition of USA Today, explaining, “Obama's own Environmental Protection Agency admits it will cost billions of dollars per year and raise energy prices for consumers. Obliterating the coal industry will also cost thousands of jobs in Kentucky and across America.”

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