Free Market Fundamentalist Opinion

EPA Continues War on Coal in Texas

The Environmental Protection Agency is waging a regulatory campaign against the oil and natural gas industry.

Remember when then Senator Barack Obama said in 2008 that electricity rates would “necessarily skyrocket” as a result of his cap-and-trade system? He predicted at the time that he would also bankrupt the coal industry.

So if someone wants to build a coal power plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

Since Democrats failed to enact cap-and-trade legislation before Republicans won control of the House of Representatives last autumn, the president’s Environmental Protection Agency has been working to make life harder for oil and gas producers. It is set to impose limits on carbon dioxide emissions regardless of Congress, citing authority to do so under the 1963 Clean Air Act. In April, the agency rejected Shell a permit to drill for oil in Alaska after the company had spent $4 billion in preparation and exploration already. Last year, the Obama Administration set national rules to improve auto fuel efficiency nearly 40 percent by 2016. The EPA is pushing for Renewable Fuel Standards which would prescribe that a particular measure of “renewable fuels” be blended into transportation fuel.

In Texas this summer, the EPA is placing even more stringent regulations on sulfur dioxide emissions that threaten the use of lignite coal in the state. The agency insists that its new standards shouldn’t disproportionately harm the industry but Kathleen Hartnett White, director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and Environment with the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, disagrees. She writes in the Dallas Morning News that retrofitting plants that use lignite would involve three to four years of engineering, fabrication and reconstruction at multibillion dollar costs.

Texas electric companies recently testified to the Texas Public Utility Commission that the rule may force closure of plants and limited operations of other plants.

More than 10 percent of Texas’ energy comes from lignite coal. 10- to 14,000 jobs in the state are supported by lignite mining. It is a $1.3 billion industry that contributes $71 million in state revenue. President Obama’s EPA is trying to destroy it with regulations because it knows that it can never win congressional approval for its irrational war on coal.