Consumer Energy Alliance Mid-Atlantic Director Mike Butler penned a blog for ShaleReporter.com about how new regulations proposed by the Obama Administration’s EPA threaten Pennsylvania’s energy supply landscape and the consumers who depend on it.
In 2008, then Sen. Barack Obama boldly told the San Francisco Chronicle, “Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”
It’s a statement we immediately wished he’d take back after being elected president, or at least one he wouldn’t follow through on.
Unfortunately, he’s sticking to his word. Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed a plan to set a national target of lowering carbon-dioxide emissions — from 2005 levels — by 25 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030.
The rule will not be finalized until next year, but then Pennsylvania coal-fired power plants will have only until June 2016 to develop and submit plans for cutting CO2 emissions by nearly 32 percent. That’s very little time to prepare a sensible plan.
This proposal puts the Commonwealth’s energy sector – and the economic security and stability that it supports – at risk. It’s a major blow to Pennsylvania, which theU.S. Energy Information Administration says was the fourth largest coal-producing state in the nation in 2012. It is also the only state producing anthracite coal, which has a higher heat value than other kinds of coal.
These new rules could require coal-fired power plants with the tough choice to either upgrade or shut down. Since Pennsylvania generated 40% of its net electricity from coal in 2013, both choices will likely mean higher electricity prices for consumers. The president said so himself just last month.
If coal-fired utilities close prematurely, how will Pennsylvania fill the gap while meeting growing consumer energy demands? And how will hardworking consumers afford the projected increases in energy costs? A report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce projects that American consumers’ disposable income would decrease by $200 next year and by nearly $400 within a decade.
In addition to higher electricity prices, expect to pay more for everyday goods and economic growth to be stagnant. One of the main components of a growing economy is the creation of good-paying jobs. It’s hard to imagine that will happen when nearly 63,000 men and women, including 8,100 miners, work in jobs supported by the coal industry in Pennsylvania.
Indirectly, other industries and businesses will be impacted. When employers pay more for energy costs, something has to give. That’s traditionally money to spend on employees. The Chamber of Commerce says that the mid-Atlantic region, which includes my home state of Pennsylvania, could lose nearly 14,000 jobs every year between now and 2030. Additionally, the EPA claims that the region could suffer economic losses of $7.5 billion every year until 2030.
Instead of eliminating energy sources, Pennsylvania needs to have all options on the table – including nuclear, natural gas, renewables and coal – to ensure that utilities and electric cooperatives can deliver affordable and reliable electricity to families, factories and farms without damaging the economy.
That’s why Consumer Energy Alliance continues to support an all-of-the-above approach that will prove itself as a successful path for the future, allowing energy supplies to be more secure and affordable for consumers.
And an all-of-the-above approach means that all energy sources, even coal, must remain strongly in the equation.