Coal mining group says EPA is doubling down on air rules to shut coal plants

National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn on April 16 marked the fact that the U.S. EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), due to take initial effect that day, is forcing the shutdown of thousands of MWs of coal-fired capacity across the U.S.

Quinn, who represents major coal producers, also touched on the agency’s pending Clean Power Plan for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, which is expected out in final form this summer.

“Today the most costly and unbalanced regulation in EPA’s history takes effect and guarantees Americans will pay substantially more for their electricity for years to come,” said Quinn. “With an annual price tag of almost $10 billion, EPA estimates that its MATS rule will return at most $6 million in benefits—with most of the costs attributable to regulating emissions the agency found pose no danger.

“Unbowed, EPA now proposes to double down by foisting a similarly destructive rule on the states to reduce carbon emissions. Earlier this week, EPA voiced the administration’s opposition to the Ratepayer Protection Act, a bill that would empower governors to protect their citizens from this latest EPA plan that experts warn will bring an even more expensive and risky energy future.

“EPA assured members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the agency will address cost and reliability concerns in its new costly power plan. Skepticism should rule the day, however when EPA issued the final MATS rule, it declared that while it could consider costs, it was also free to ignore them. And ignore them it did, with a rule demanding consumers pay $1600 in exchange for $1 in benefits.  

“As the nation’s governors weigh signing up their states for EPA’s Clean Power Plan, they should consider the damage EPA has already done to the states’ rate payers, manufacturing base and electric grid.”

On April 14, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power at the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing, “EPA’s Proposed 111(d) Rule for Existing Power Plants, and H.R. ___, Ratepayer Protection Act.” The blank space for the bill number is because this proposal hadn’t been formally introduced yet by its sponsor, Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky. His state is both a major coal producer and is heavily reliant on coal-fired power. The bill would halt implementation of the Clean Power Plan until it is fought out in court.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.