EPA Regulations Threaten Pennsylvania Jobs

The prospects for Pennsylvania coal industry have gotten so bad that Tom Crooks has contemplated moving his company from the state to find greener pastures

Crooks is vice president of R.G. Johnson Co., a Washington, Pa.-based contractor that services the mining industry. “I came here to put a face on the industry,” said Crooks, whose company employs 150 people.  “We want to stay in Pennsylvania, but…”

As part of the Obama administration’s “War on Coal,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to propose carbon dioxide emission standards that could shut down as much as half of Pennsylvania’s coal-fired electric generating plants. The agency also has proposed limits on new coal-fired plants that effectively will ban their construction, according to the Heritage Foundation.

Coal provides more than 40 percent of Pennsylvania’s electricity, supports nearly 42,000 jobs and contributes about $7 billion to the economy. The Heritage Foundation estimates that the state would lose more than 28,000 jobs by 2023 as a result of EPA’s proposal. Nationally, the estimate is nearly 600,000 lost jobs.

The specter of economic damage drew sounds of alarm from a broad range of organizations represented at a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection meeting.

Speakers said power plants that have invested billions of dollars into pollution-control equipment could be closed because of the new regulations. One such business is the Homer City Generating Station in Indiana County where $700 million is being spent to remove 100,000 tons of sulfur dioxide from the plant’s emissions every year, a reduction of 90 percent.

The Heritage Foundation recommends that Congress stop the EPA from regulating CO2 emissions—a reasoned approach that could save jobs for thousands of Pennsylvanians.