Labor unions none too happy with the Obama administration's new emissions regulations

The Obama administration knew that it wasn’t going to get applause from all of its fellow Democrats on the regulations released by the Environmental Protection Agency this morning — and not only did officials not expect any, they even gave Congressional Democrats their implicit blessing on the issue. Via Reuters:

Democrats in Republican-leaning states have a simple strategy for dealing with President Barack Obama’s upcoming power plant restrictions before the mid-term elections: Fight them, with the White House’s blessing.

The new rules, popular with the Democratic Party’s base, are one of Obama’s highest domestic priorities for his second term. …

So, the White House is turning a blind eye to attacks from within the party, despite the importance of the regulations to Obama’s agenda and post-presidential legacy.

“We understand that there are going to be Democrats in these states that oppose it and are perfectly prepared that that’s going to happen,” one White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We don’t agree, but we don’t have a problem with it.”

The White House’s apparent political nonchalance about the divisive regulations don’t make them any more welcome for the not-so-merry band of vulnerable Congressional Democrats, several of whom tried to convince the EPA to delay them for a few more cltuch months — and less welcome still, I imagine, are the monetary losses they might sustain from some of their biggest traditional campaign donors. Via the WFB:

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) president Cecil Roberts blasted the proposal, saying it would leave tens of thousands of the union’s members unemployed.

“The proposed rule … will lead to long-term and irreversible job losses for thousands of coal miners, electrical workers, utility workers, boilermakers, railroad workers and others without achieving any significant reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions,” Roberts said in a statement.

According to a UMWA analysis, Roberts said, the rule will cause 75,000 job losses in the coal sector by 2020, rising to 152,000 by 2035.

“When a U.S. government economic multiplier used to calculate the impact of job losses is applied to the entire economy, we estimate that the total impact will be about 485,000 permanent jobs lost,” Roberts said. …

The regulations also drew fire on Monday from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), which warned they “focus solely on the environmental aspect of public policy at the expense of balancing our nation’s economic and energy needs.”

Perhaps the White House is hoping that the major demonstration of Climate Change Seriousness they can now offer to the environmentalist lobby will make the juice worth the squeeze, and perhaps individual Democrats are hoping that they can demonstrate enough anti-Obama/regulations sentiments that they’ll still get their donations from labor unions, but it’s no wonder these guys are upset. As the EPA states in their own language, the goal of these regulations is to completely do away with at least a handful of the country’s coal-fired power plants — which means a forced and accelerated market transition that will definitely result in job losses.

Here’s a key paragraph from the agency’s regulatory analysis released Monday alongside the rule: “Relative to the base case, about 30 to 49 GW of coal-fired capacity is projected to be uneconomic to maintain (about 12 percent to 19 percent of all coal-fired capacity projected to be in service in the base case) by 2020 under the range of scenarios analyzed.”

And here’s a key forecast in the rule itself: “EPA projects coal production for use by the power sector, a large component of total coal production, will decline by roughly 25 to 27 percent in 2020 from base case levels. The use of coal by the power sector will decrease roughly 30 to 32 percent in 2030.”

Jazz Shaw Jun 22, 2021 6:01 PM ET