So there is no “war on coal” taking place under the Obama administration. We know this because we have it straight from the horse’s mouth. And without a war, you don’t really wind up with any casualties, do you? So as we close out the week, let’s do a quick re-cap of all the non-victims and all of their non-injuries.
Let’s start off in the Keystone State
FirstEnergy Corp. (FE) unveiled plans to deactivate two coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania, citing the cost of compliance with current and future environmental regulations, along with a continued low market price for electricity.
On Tuesday, it said the Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station in Masontown, Pa., and Mitchell Power Station in Courtney, Pa., will be deactivated by Oct. 9. The total capacity of the plants is 2,080 megawatts, representing about 10% of the company’s total generating capacity, and about 30% of the estimated $925 million cost to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
FirstEnergy said about 380 plant employees and generation-related positions are expected to be affected. The company has 16,495 employees, according to FactSet.
Next up, Ohio
Coal producers see a gloomy future.
“It’s gonna hurt the United States, because it will drive up our electric costs. Our manufacturing will not be competitive,” says Chuck Ungarean, president of Oxford Resources, which runs 17 coal mines in Ohio.
“The price of electricity will definitely go up 30, 40, 50 percent, and that’s just a wild guess,” Ungarean says.
Just how much the price of electricity will fluctuate will depend on new expenditures power plants that continue to emit carbon would have to pay… something the President alluded to last week.
What hits closest to home for coal companies and miners though is jobs. Three thousand people work in coal production in Ohio. And those jobs are at risk if power companies switch from coal to other power sources.
Meanwhile, in Montana…
The proposal, with its emphasis on cuts in carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants, would put facilities like the 2,100-megawatt Colstrip electricity plant in eastern Montana in regulators’ cross hairs.
That has profound spinoff implications for the massive strip mines that dot the surrounding arid landscape of the Powder River Basin and provide the bulk of the nation’s coal.
Montana’s sole member of the U.S. House of Representatives bluntly declared that the administration had decided to “pick winners and losers” in the energy sector with its plan. “He wants to move toward shutting down the coal industry,” Republican Rep. Steve Daines said of the president.
Prices are going up in the Bluegrass State
Kentucky’s top energy official told a legislative committee Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s climate change policy could increase electricity prices significantly and hurt the state’s coal and manufacturing industries.
Many legislators at Tuesday’s Joint Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment said they believe Obama unfairly targets the coal industry in his policy to battle climate change and questioned whether it was necessary to curb carbon dioxide emissions.
“We’re not blind. We know there is a war on coal,” said Rep. Fitz Steele, D-Hazard. “There has been climate change since the beginning of time … There is not but one fellow that can control it … It’s going to change no matter what.”
So there you have it. Move along. Nothing to see here. No war on coal. Nope.
Rising prices, plants closing because they can’t afford to keep running until their scheduled upgrades to other fuel sources, jobs going away, costs going up. If this is the “all of the above” energy policy we were promised during the last presidential campaign, I’m glad Barack Obama didn’t really go green on us.