So Much for That ‘All of the Above’ Energy Strategy
President Obama has repeatedly called for an all of the above strategy that develops every source of American energy. But he’s also pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward on an aggressive new Climate Action Plan that would take steps toward eliminating our most abundant and affordable energy resource—coal.
Last month EPA unveiled a revamped proposal calling for the first-ever greenhouse gas emissions limits for new power plants, which would be virtually impossible for even the most modern coal plant. By requiring the use of technology that isn’t commercially viable, the new rule is really a de facto ban on new coal plant construction.
This rule is the latest in an ongoing regulatory assault on America’s coal industry, which certainly was never intended by Congress. Regulations are an essential part of a complex economy. But when done wrong, regulations can bring compliance costs that threaten entire industries. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has long said that a basic and commonsense premise for any regulation is that the benefits should outweigh the costs. In this case, the economic costs of sidelining our coal resources would be devastating, with very little benefit.
Coal is our largest source of domestically produced energy, responsible for about 40% of our electricity. Some want to see coal replaced with alternative energy sources. These new forms of energy have an important place, but today, they are far from ready to replace the abundant and affordable coal resources that have long powered our nation.
Coal is also vital to our economy. The coal industry is responsible for nearly 550,000 U.S. jobs. If adopted, this and other EPA rules would cause sweeping job losses, reduce our coal-fired electricity-generating capacity by 20% or more, and drive up U.S. electricity costs, which would impact all businesses, industries, and families.
Next year the agency will issue performance standards for existing power plants that are sure to put further pressure on the backbone of our existing electric generation fleet. And, unfortunately, the threats don’t stop with coal. The federal government is proposing new regulations on shale development—even though shale is already effectively regulated at the state level. Such regulations could hamstring the shale boom and cost our economy more than $100 billion in the next few years. The government continues to place 87% of our offshore oil and gas off limits, and a cumbersome permitting process holds back energy development.
As long as EPA pushes anti-coal rules and jeopardizes the development of other crucial sources of domestic energy, the administration’s calls for an all of the above energy strategy ring hollow.