A Lump Of Coal

Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

It’s been almost two weeks since the EPA released its proposed guidelines for limiting the amount of carbon pollution that existing power plants can dump into the atmosphere. I discussed in a piece from last week the new regulations and how nine states in the northeast already have a working cap-and-trade system in place that go beyond the federal proposals. So, how have the guidelines been received?

In an article for Bloomberg, Mario Fisher points out that even before the release of the proposed guidelines, utilities were planning to shut down enough coal-fired generation in the next six years to supply a city five times the size of New York to comply with existing environmental laws, and that coal will still be used to generate 30% of the electricity in this country by 2030, compared to 39% in 2013.

Photo by Rennett Stowe from USA (Coal-fired Power Plant Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Rennett Stowe from USA (Coal-fired Power Plant Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, the various coal companies and lobbying groups are painting a much darker picture. The Chamber of Commerce, the country’s biggest business lobby, claims that the regulations would cost the economy $51 billion a year by 2030, and would lead to 224,000 jobs being lost. Gary M. Broadbent, media director for Murray Energy, said: “The Obama Administration’s proposed cap-and-tax mandates are absolutely illegal and will destroy millions of jobs, cripple the American economy, and cause massive blackouts in this country.”  

However, Paul Krugman, in an article for the New York Times, put that $51 billion into perspective: “Remember, we have a $17 trillion economy right now, and it’s going to grow over time. So what the Chamber of Commerce is actually saying is that we can take dramatic steps on climate — steps that would transform international negotiations, setting the stage for global action — while reducing our incomes by only one-fifth of 1 percent. That’s cheap!” And, the Natural Resources Defense Council says that cutting carbon pollution from power plans would save Americans $37.4 billion on their electricity bills in 2020 due to higher efficiency. Furthermore, they claim that more than 274,000 jobs would be created for roofers and electricians implementing solar and other energy-saving technologies.

Naturally, there’s also the out and out deniers. Robert Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy is threatening to sue the EPA over the new regulations, claiming that the EPA is lying about global warming and the earth is actually getting cooler. All we can say to that is bring it on…

You’d think that Robert Murray got a lump of coal in his Christmas stocking…

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