International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Edwin Hill writes in today’s Wall Street Journal about the harmful consequences of EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. Hill warns EPA’s misguided proposal will result in thousands of job losses and severely compromise the reliability and safety of the electrical grid. Many of the nation’s power plants have already shuttered due to other EPA rules, and the Clean Power Plan will force even more of our power supply offline, posing “a danger for the entire economy and all Americans.” Hill expresses, “The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a classic example of federal tunnel vision—focusing on a single goal with little heed for the costs and dangers.”
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Electrical Workers vs. the EPA
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Late last month more than 1,600 witnesses testified at hearings held by the Environmental Protection Agency on its Clean Power Plan, which will impose drastic, 30% cuts in carbon emissions by 2030, with most of the cuts taking place by 2020. The EPA’s proposal has attracted such a large response for a very good reason. The plan would have a dramatic impact on the American economy but only a minimal effect on global carbon emissions.
The EPA’s plan, according to its own estimates, will require closing coal-fired power plants over the next five years that generate between 41 and 49 gigawatts (49,000 megawatts) of electricity. That’s approximately enough capacity to power the state of Georgia at any given time. Unless that capacity is replaced, the nationwide equivalent of the Peach State would go dark.
When gauged by accepted industry metrics, the agency’s plans also would result in the loss of some 52,000 permanent direct jobs in utilities, mining and rail and at least another 100,000 jobs in related industries. High-skill, middle-class jobs would be lost, falling heavily in rural communities that have few comparable employment opportunities.
The U.S. is already facing the loss of 60 gigawatts of power over the next three years, the result of older coal plants’ being forced to shut down because they cannot comply with the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards enacted in 2012. At the time, the EPA claimed that only four gigawatts of capacity would be lost. Those of us familiar with the industry knew better, and the agency now does not contest that 60 gigawatts of coal-generated electricity will be lost. Ninety percent of the plants slated to close due to the MATS rule were needed to provide power during the polar vortex and other periods of severe weather last winter. Is the EPA willing to gamble that we won’t have another harsh winter in the next five years?
The U.S. cannot lose more than 100 gigawatts of power in five years without severely compromising the reliability and safety of the electrical grid. That would pose a danger for the entire economy and all Americans. …
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a classic example of federal tunnel vision—focusing on a single goal with little heed for the costs and dangers. …
Mr. Hill is president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) representing 750,000 members in utilities, construction, railroads, manufacturing, broadcasting, telecommunications and government.
Read the full article online HERE.