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  • EPA’s Attack on Coal Hits Electricity Bills

    The U.S. coal industry is facing a grim outlook in 2012, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pollution rules are one big reason.

    The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule have contributed to the premature shutdown of several coal plants and the idling of coal mines across the country. The EPA’s attack on coal is sending electricity bills skyrocketing as more expensive sources of energy take coal’s place. While anti-coal protestors cheer, American families are paying the price.

    Alpha Natural Resources, a major Appalachian coal producer, announced plans to lower coal production last Friday as demand for coal by electric utilities is dropping:

    Alpha subsidiaries in Kentucky and West Virginia will idle four mines immediately and two others between now and early 2013, while several other mines will alter work schedules or reduce the number of production crews. Altogether 10 mining operations are affected, four in eastern Kentucky and six in southern West Virginia.… Alpha’s Central Appalachian businesses are seeing more electric utilities switch from thermal coal to natural gas to take advantage of gas prices at 10-year lows. A series of federal regulatory actions also have prompted utilities to implement plans for shutting down a number of generating stations that have traditionally run on coals sourced from Central Appalachia.

    Just a week earlier, Ohio-based FirstEnergy directly cited the impact of environmental regulations as the basis for retiring six coal plants by September of this year:

    Its generation subsidiaries will retire six older coal-fired power plants located in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland by September 1, 2012. The decision to close the plants is based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which were recently finalized, and other environmental regulations.

    Natural gas prices are currently at a decade low, but as demand continues to grow, natural gas prices will likely rise. The switch from coal to natural gas by electric utilities in response to the EPA regulations is thus a boon to both environmentalists and the natural gas industry. As Charles Blanchard, the U.S. power sector analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, explains:

    The interests of fossil fuel producers and environmentalists are (unusually) aligned: higher domestic gas prices would bode well both for gas producers and higher-cost renewable energy projects.… The impetus for [rising gas prices] will emanate from within the United States, as old age and EPA regulation force the closure of dozens of gigawatts of coal power plants.

    Household electricity bills, which skyrocketed in 2010, will continue to rise as Americans are forced to use more expensive sources of energy to power their businesses and homes. This in turn will result in higher prices for other goods and services as higher electricity prices increase production costs.

    Those most hurt by policies that increase the price of energy are lower-income households, which spend a much larger portion of their income on energy, and senior citizens, who have the highest per-capita residential energy consumption.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to EPA’s Attack on Coal Hits Electricity Bills

    1. Bobbie says:

      The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule? That's not specific enough! They know there's no jobs or money why is congress letting them make it worse? This is a cause of various problems including health hazards and economic issues already effected unlike their dangerous speculative move acting for a result in something they have no evidence in making a difference, EVER!! Please stop them!

      in a sound bite someone (Carney) called "oil companies" "special interest?" that's of a "common interest" since everyone uses them, silly little overpaid government tool! Whereas never before abuse of government authority interferes in personal religious faith is a "special interest." Government authority supporting the EPA'S attacks on areas essential to our survival is a "special interest." Higher costs beyond our control to provide for our families is a "special interest." Keeping the economy back because the government can is a "special interest." mandating public education starting at age three is a "special interest." Providing people personal products that enables personal behavior is a "special interest!"

      It's the "special interests" of the government they don't have a constitutional role in and "those" anti-Americans they serve, that are effecting American livelihoods in an unfair, treasonous way. Not the "special interests" of the "private sector" the "government does not serve!"

    2. Craig Brotko says:

      It's already happing just got my Jan bill about $15 more than last year and it sure hasn't been as cold this year.
      Many thanks to the current goverment….. Guess it will cost a lot more to power the electric cars they want us to drive. This is just a additional tax we are paying but under the radar.

    3. Gil Moorman says:

      Residents of Illinois, our coal industry is being destroyed and our electric rates are going up! Had enough change!?

    4. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Again, it's not the EPA, it's Obama. Four years ago, Obama said on camera, under his plan energy prices would "necessarily skyrocket". Yet we're shocked to learn electricity cost are up.Obama told us what he intended to do. Do we not realize Obama is deliberately causing our economy to faulter by collapsing our energy systems which will bring about the government takingover of that system, resulting in full government control of the way we live our lives, so the people will beg him to save them with socialism.

      • Patches says:

        …and Biden, who was born and spent his first years in coal country, stated No More Coal. He wants solar and wind. Who the heck can afford solar? A local resident spent $50K for solar and spent months fighting the town council to let him use it!

    5. John Blair says:

      Whine, Whine, Whine! That seems to be all we hear from the fossil industry when it is forced to pay a minor percentage of the externalized costs of their product for the first time. People in the Illinois Basin which hosts both mining and burning facilities are sick from the massive use of coal, much of it unregulated for decades, but the people making big buck from those death traps just want to complain that they might be forced to actually reduce their massive emission of toxic materials from their operations.

      Why, should I be forced to subsidize their operation with ill health and early death among my family and friends just so they can profit?

    6. O_Henry says:

      “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” RWR 10-28-80

    7. J. Cooper says:

      It is both of them. Lisa Jackson and Obama are to blame.

    8. Altgol says:

      The mercury standards are pretty laughable considering the same EPA is forcing us all to use mercury laden compact bulbs in our homes. If one breaks (gee, that never happens) they want it treated as a HAZMAT event. Just another example of the monumwntal hypocrisy of this administration.

    9. myofba says:

      "Environmentalists" have reduced us to burning coal to produce electricity – no drilling for oil or gas, no new refineries, no new nuclear plants. Now they want to do away with fire. I guess I'm going to have to start burning "environmentalists" in my furnace for heat.

    10. Jeff-in-Atlanta says:

      I wonder how the coal miner's union feels about this.

    11. To all those in the UMWA who were led to the slaughter here are your results. Obama made a promise to you and now he is keeping it! Your union president is in bed with Obama.. Just a second… let me put on my shocked face !!

    12. Ron Welch says:

      Mr. Obama's EPA is costing the Appalachia area thousands of jobs, and as he promised electric rates are skyrocketing. We can change that in November.

    13. Coal miners first. Petrochemical workers next. This president is killing good paying jobs. He is hell bent on forcing his green tree huggers agenda. Stop this man in November for America's future.

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