Two new EPA pollution regulations will slam the coal industry so hard that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost, and electric rates will skyrocket 11 percent to over 23 percent, according to a new study based on government data.
Overall, the rules aimed at making the air cleaner could cost the coal-fired power plant industry $180 billion, warns a trade group.
“Many of these severe impacts would hit families living in states already facing serious economic challenges,” said Steve Miller, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. “Because of these impacts, EPA should make major changes to the proposed regulations before they are finalized,” he said.
The EPA, however, tells Whispers that the hit the industry will suffer is worth the health benefits. “EPA has taken a number of sensible steps to protect public health, while also working with industry and other stakeholders to ensure that these important Clean Air Act standards—such as the first ever national Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for coal-fired power plants—are reasonable, common-sense, and achievable,” said spokesman Brendan Gilfillan. [Read Rep. Darrell Issa: Obama's Bad Policy, Harmful Regulations Add to Gas Prices.]
What’s more, officials said that just one of the rules to cut sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions will would yield up to $290 billion in annual health and welfare benefits in 2014. They say that amounts to preventing up to 36,000 premature deaths, 26,000 hospital and emergency room visits, and 240,000 cases of aggravated asthma. “This far outweighs the estimated annual costs,” says an official on background. [Check out political cartoons on the economy.]
Still, the EPA did note that the two new antipollution rules are “pending” and that the agency has “accepted and are considering feedback” from the industry.
The industry says the costs and potential to lose four jobs for every new clean energy job created isn’t worth the rules, especially in a job-starved economy. [See a slide show of the best cities to find a job.]
Referring to the analysis of the EPA regulations from National Economic Research Associates, Miller said they would be the most expensive rules ever imposed on power plants.
Coal-fired energy plants currently fuel about half of the nation’s energy supply.