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Policy: Environment & Energy

Examiner Editorial: Obama moves closer to killing coal industry

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Opinion,Editorial,Barack Obama,Gina McCarthy,Energy and Environment,Coal,Washington Examiner

President Obama and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy can deny it until the cows come home, but they are clearly focusing the regulatory power of the federal government on the coal industry in an effort to kill it. There is simply no room left for doubt about their intent, as evidenced by the EPA's proposed rule establishing “Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From New Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units.”

Translated from the obscurantist bureaucratic lingo, the proposed rule puts a ceiling on carbon emissions by new coal-fired electricity generating power plants. The rule, according to the Institute for Energy Research, “creates a carbon dioxide emission standard that is impossible for a coal-fired power plant to meet without technology known as Carbon Capture and Storage -- or CCS -- attached to the plant. EPA claims that CCS is ‘adequately demonstrated' as is required by federal law, but this is not true.”

In other words, the EPA is requiring the coal industry to meet an impossible standard before it can build any new plants to replace or add to those already in existence, which generate 40 percent of the electricity used every day in this country. The next step after the present proposal will be yet another rule that will eventually force closure of the existing plants. At that point, the domestic coal industry will have to depend for its survival on sales to China and other foreign buyers that don't worry about carbon emissions.

Federal law has long barred the EPA from mandating industry use of technology that has not been “adequately demonstrated” as ready for commercial use. It is simply ludicrous for the EPA to claim in its proposed new rule that CCS technology has reached such a point. No existing plant now uses CCS, and the IER makes clear that none of the handful of proposed demonstration facilities could exist apart from Obama's scandal-plagued green energy program:

• The Kemper County Energy Facility received a $270 million grant from the Department of Energy and $133 million in investment tax credits approved by the IRS. Originally it was projected to cost $2.4 billion but is now estimated to cost $4.3 billion.

• SaskPower's Boundary Dam project is budgeted to spend $1.24 billion on a small, 110-MW power plant. The project received $240 million from the Canadian federal government in 2010 and, as of October 2013, the project was $115 million over budget.

• The Texas Clean Energy Project received $450 million from the Department of Energy under the DOE's Clean Coal Power Initiative.

• NRG Energy’s post-combustion carbon capture project at the company’s W.A. Parish generating station southwest of Houston received $167 million from DOE’s Clean Coal Project Initiative.

Considering these subsidies, it's hard to dispute the IER's conclusion that “EPA is not really concerned about what is truly feasible or what leads to low-cost electricity. EPA has an anti-coal agenda and claiming that CCS is ready is one step in their long-term goal of eliminating coal and coal jobs.”

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