McConnell looking to thwart the EPA’s incoming coal plant restrictions?

posted at 3:21 pm on September 18, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

There’s no question that the coal industry has been dealing with some very stiff competition from natural gas, which is now just about tied with coal for the country’s biggest electricity source when coal used to be the top dog just a few short years ago. Energy companies are increasingly incorporating the profitable and relatively cleaner fuel source — but the Obama administration would very much like to both accelerate and take credit for the free-market phenomenon. By throwing natural and healthy free-market processes under the bus and forcefully inducing this transition to the degree that they see fit, they can commandeer the achievement of decreased carbon emissions for their own and legitimize President Obama’s climate plans — the jobs that are squashed in the meantime be damned.

That’s why the EPA is shortly introducing their new regulations to effectively make it impossible for companies to construct new coal plans without adding prohibitively expensive carbon control equipment to meet required emissions standards; natural gas plants are expected to easily make the cut, but new coal-plant projects will largely be out of luck. This is really just the preview act, however, as the EPA intends to go even bigger by introducing plans next year that will force existing coal plants to retrofit to meet stricter standards, too. Their proposed timeline is to have those rules finalized by June of 2015, and that will mean a lot more coal plants shutting down in due time.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell home state of Kentucky has a huge coal contingent, and he’s pushing a bill that would block the EPA from their aggressive central planning maneuvers. Could be a smooth political move, too, if it forces some Democrats vulnerable on the issue to contend with their home state’s coal interests on taking a stand against President Obama’s plan:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has floated new legislation that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing carbon pollution standards for power plants.

The bill also seeks to speed up permitting for coal mining projects and limit the scope of Clean Water Act rules. The measure from McConnell, who hails from a major coal producing state and faces reelection next year, is titled the “Save Coal Jobs Act of 2013.”

“He very much wants a vote on it,” an aide said of the bill introduced Tuesday.

The bill takes particular aim at EPA plans to craft carbon emissions standards for the nation’s fleet of existing power plants, which are due to be proposed next year.

Then again, several Democrats might be plenty happy to take the chance to say they stood up to the administration’s crushing rules (perhaps knowing full well that Obama would never sign such a bill even if it made it to the president’s desk). West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, for instance, unloaded on the Obama administration at a Hill hearing on Tuesday: “There has been nothing more beat up than coal. … They just beat the living daylights out of little West Virginia, but they sure like what we produce. We could do it a lot better if we had a government working with us as a partner.”

Regardless, in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, the coal industry is struggling, and McConnell claims it’s at least partially because of the very onerous threat of the incoming regulations, via the Daily Caller:

The James River Coal company announced Tuesday it is closing several mines in eastern Kentucky and laying off 525 employees. …

“Over 500 Kentuckians are now wondering how they’re going to feed their family and pay their bills, as a result of another shutdown at Kentucky coal mines,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, another Kentucky Republican. “The President is leading a war on coal and what that really means for Kentucky families is a war on jobs.”

James River Coal announced that it will be shuttering mines in eastern Kentucky due to “continued weakness in the domestic and international coal markets.” Mines in eastern Kentucky have been hit particularly hard by EPA regulations as well as increased competition from low priced natural gas — a fuel that is quickly replacing coal for electricity generation.


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How do you feel about those 2008 and 2012 votes UMW dues payers?

Murphy9 on September 18, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell home state of Kentucky has a huge coal contingent, and he’s pushing a bill that would block the EPA from their aggressive central planning maneuvers. Could be a smooth political move, too, if it forces some Democrats vulnerable on the issue to contend with their home state’s coal interests on taking a stand against President Obama’s plan:

Ya know, a re-read of that but with the focus being Obamacare instead of coal is… well interesting, relevant, and puts the lie to the earlier thread notion that ‘no Senate Democrats’ would buck Obama on Obamacare, whether their constituents gave them hell or not.

Midas on September 18, 2013 at 3:32 PM

A blatant political move, but at least he’s doing something that’s a)conservative, and b) desired by his constituents.

Chris of Rights on September 18, 2013 at 3:42 PM

well, this is a start. Every shrieking leftist head will explode. But in the Senate it would be a great victory…with lots of Ds having to support it…and if one of the lunatics tried to fillibuster..wow, great campaign literature….the Party of Lunatics and Pin Heads

bring it…Mitch

it is beyond time

r keller on September 18, 2013 at 3:43 PM

A senior Muslim Brotherhood official who, until recently, had been employed by the William J. Clinton Foundation was arrested in Cairo on Tuesday and charged with inciting violence.

Reason no. 10000000 not to let the filthy, evil Clintons near any position of power or influence in this country ever again.

Murphy9 on September 18, 2013 at 3:46 PM

True Con: But, but McConnell is a RINO and must be destroyed!

Buy Danish on September 18, 2013 at 3:55 PM

Electric power plants using coal fired boilers are already phasing them out on a massive scale. Bids are already being sought and awarded. Much of the damage is already done.

Kermit on September 18, 2013 at 4:00 PM

shale gas is replacing coal in US anyways. it’s a matter of economics

gerrym51 on September 18, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Defund the EPA and Obama Care.

They are equal crimes and sould be treatd the same.

The “Aussies” down under have done the deed.

Time for U.S. to be free at last.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on September 18, 2013 at 4:09 PM

Obama does not know what is going on down under his own feet, he needs to look down before he falls flat on his as$.

http://www.wattsupwiththat.com

Truth Came, Truth Won.

Obama drives the liberal loon bus off the clif never seeing the edge at all.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on September 18, 2013 at 4:13 PM

McConnell looking to thwart the EPA’s incoming coal plant restrictions?

…thwart?….’try’… it chicken neck!

KOOLAID2 on September 18, 2013 at 4:17 PM

The States are going to have to start standing up to this, even at the risk of losing federal funding. These people just have blind agenda and do not care about anything beyond good intentions.

Hannibal on September 18, 2013 at 4:32 PM

This is reason 9,999,999 why all law making by anyone except Congress must be stopped. Regulations are laws, and ONLY Congress is authorized to make laws.

Axion on September 18, 2013 at 4:39 PM

I didn’t know the “free market” meant trying to compete with your competition while the government beats you from behind with a baseball bat and tilts the field to the other guy.

jnelchef on September 18, 2013 at 4:40 PM

tset

APACHEWHOKNOWS on September 18, 2013 at 4:47 PM

True Con: But, but McConnell is a RINO and must be destroyed!

Buy Danish on September 18, 2013 at 3:55 PM

You know what they say about broken clocks; the downside is that being right twice a day means you’re wrong, well… almost all the time.

McConnell is a milquetoast establishment squish almost all the time.

Midas on September 18, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Make Tester take a stand on coal. It’ll be the first stand he’s taken on his own without Baucus telling him which way to jump. Winter made it’s first appearance this morning. 39deg with snow possible above 6K ft. The local rural energy companies that all use coal are in a quandary about what to do next. We’re all worried about what is going to replace them.

Kissmygrits on September 18, 2013 at 4:59 PM

I didn’t know the “free market” meant trying to compete with your competition while the government beats you from behind with a baseball bat and tilts the field to the other guy.

jnelchef on September 18, 2013 at 4:40 PM

No kidding. Our town is part of a power pool that last year decided to buy a refurbished natural gas power plant. One of the reasons they decided to go natural gas instead of expanding or opening a coal one was the regulations and what they fear is coming down the pike.

This isn’t free market anything. This is trying to stay ahead of the regulatory monster and meet your customer’s needs.

cptacek on September 18, 2013 at 5:54 PM

shale gas is replacing coal in US anyways. it’s a matter of economics

gerrym51 on September 18, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Yeah, but it’s not like the EPA is shale-friendly or something…fortunately fraction is taking off anyways with or without the EPA’s nod ..it’s a global sweeping trend and and there will come a time when even EPA won’t be able to do shite to stop it.

jimver on September 18, 2013 at 6:22 PM

I’m sure Nancy Pelosi will tell those coal miners and electrical plant workers that they’ll now be free to be poets, song-writers, painters……….and ObamaCare will take care of all their medical needs.

GarandFan on September 18, 2013 at 7:25 PM

That’s why the EPA is shortly introducing their new regulations to effectively make it impossible for companies to construct new coal plans without adding prohibitively expensive carbon control equipment to meet required emissions standards; natural gas plants are expected to easily make the cut, but new coal-plant projects will largely be out of luck.

Not sure what the Obysmal administration’s plans for new regulations might be, but natural gas plants are ALREADY out of luck with regulations imposed by Lisa Jackson back in 2010. Those regulations imposed limits on CO2 emissions starting at 75,000 tons/year, which is emitted by natural gas having a heating value of about 39 megawatts, and about half that for coal.

The problem is, most commercial natural-gas generating turbines produce about 250 MW, well over Obama/Jackson’s limit, so the only way any newe power plants (gas-fired as well as coal-fired) will “make the cut” is Obama eases the current regulations.

Steve Z on September 18, 2013 at 8:51 PM