Selective Listening? EPA’s Listening Tour Skips Stops at States Most Reliant Upon Coal For Affordable Energy
The Obama administration recently scheduled public listening sessions across the country to solicit input from the public and stakeholders about regulating carbon dioxide emissions for existing power plants. According to EPA’s website, “The feedback from these 11 public listening sessions will play an important role in helping EPA develop smart, cost-effective guidelines that reflect the latest and best information available.” The map on the website indicates the stops on EPA’s listening tour, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Lenexa (part of the Kansas City metro area), New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
Closer examination of the map reveals EPA conspicuously failed to schedule any listening sessions in states where electricity price increases may be the highest as a result of the agency’s actions. According to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the top 10 states with the highest percentage of electricity generated from coal are West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Utah, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Ohio. Despite being the most impacted, all of these states are missing from EPA’s tour schedule. That means Americans that may be the hardest hit by EPA’s regulations will need to travel hundreds of miles to ensure their concerns about electricity prices and the impacts on their jobs are heard.
The United States is often referred to as the “Saudi Arabia of coal” because of our vast coal resources, and coal remains a vital part of an “all of the above” energy strategy, but the administration’s actions are threatening the future of this valuable energy resource that provides approximately 40 percent of the nation’s electricity. Thousands of workers in coal producing states have already lost their jobs as a result of the administration’s policies and regulatory actions, and many more Americans in states that rely on affordable electricity for manufacturing, energy-intensive industries, and agriculture are fearful that their paychecks may become a causality of EPA’s upcoming power plant rules.
EPA’s selected cities suggest EPA is engaged in “selective listening.” If the agency really wants to propose power plant rules based on the “best information available,” it needs to revamp its tour schedule and include communities who stand to face the highest energy price increases and job losses from these new regulations.