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Policy: Environment & Energy

'War on coal': 207 coal plants will close in the next decade

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Beltway Confidential,Energy Department,EPA,Ashe Schow,Energy and Environment

President Obama's apparent "war on coal" will result in 207 coal plants shuttering their doors over the next decade or so, according to Reuters.

Whether due to environmental regulations or cheap natural gas (which the Environmental Protection Agency is also eyeing suspiciously via potential fracking regulations), these coal plants will close their doors, resulting in a loss of over 40,000 megawatts of electricity. That's less than 1 percent of all the electricity used by the country in a year, but because multiple plants are closing in the same location, energy prices for people living within their reach will increase. Not to mention the job losses from closing those plants.

As 207 plants are slated to close, 138 have already shut down since Obama took office in 2009 and began his anti-coal onslaught. If all 207 of those facilities cease operating, it will leave the nation with 439 coal-fired plants, a loss of 32 percent of the nation's coal plants.

Coal currently accounts for about 40 percent of the nation's energy supply, so losing this many coal plants will be devastating. Renewable energy (including wind, solar, geothermal and others) account for only 12 percent of current consumption, and that percentage isn't growing very quickly.

These coal plants will have to be replaced with newer, more expensive forms of energy, like renewables. Some of the plants are being converted into natural gas plants, but building new power supplies will be costly, said Dan Kish, senior vice president of policy at the Institute for Energy Research. And where will the money come from to build these plants?

"The fact is that with the regulatory flurry that only looks to get worse, people will have to accept that their energy bills will increase," Kish said. "The president said as much in 2008."

Kish was referring to Obama's 2008 statement to a San Francisco fund-raising dinner that "electricity rates will necessarily sky-rocket" under his then-proposed energy program.

William Yeatman from the Competitive Enterprise Institute agrees. "President Obama campaigned on a promise to bankrupt coal, and EPA is now backing up his words," Yeatman said.

"EPA has proposed or promulgated two regulations that banned entire sectors of the coal industry, and finalized a number other rules that imposed scores of billions of dollars of costs. Thousands of jobs have been prevented, and thousands of existing jobs are in peril. EPA's war on coal is the last thing the country needs in a bad economy," he said.

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Ashe Schow

Commentary Writer
The Washington Examiner