Could Coal’s Savior be PA’s Legislature?
180 workers in CONSOL Energy’s coal division recently lost their jobs. Now, Pennsylvania’s legislature may be the only thing standing between the Obama administration and complete destruction of the state’s coal industry.
This week, President Obama announced finalized regulations to cut carbon emissions to a level that would practically ban the burning of coal for electricity—spiking utility costs and eliminating the jobs many Pennsylvanians count on.To comply with the regulations, states must submit a Clean Power Plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Last year, foreseeing the dangers in a draft version of the regulations, Pennsylvania’s Republican legislature and governor passed a law requiring legislative approval before the state sends any plan to the EPA.
Presumably, this law would prevent Democrat Governor Tom Wolf from unilaterally submitting a plan that would harm Pennsylvanians. To date, Pennsylvania’s leadership has inspired 14 other states to introduce similar legislative oversight proposals.
Unfortunately, Gov. Wolf’s response to Obama’s announcement ignores the dangers of regulations that will jeopardize the jobs of at least 13,000 Pennsylvanians:
Pennsylvania will use this as an opportunity to write a plan that could improve public health, address climate change, and improve our economy and power system.
If Wolf’s plan mirrors the EPA’s proposed rules, it will do none of these things.
In fact, a computer model estimates the regulations would reduce global temperature by a minuscule 0.018 degrees Celsius by 2100 — a reduction that would hardly influence climate and health.
And according to an Energy Ventures Analysis report, the regulations would increase combined annual gas and electricity bills in Pennsylvania by more than $1,000, or 46 percent, by 2020 compared to 2012. Industrial power rates alone would rise by 62 percent.
Nationally, the United Mine Workers of America estimates the regulations will suction $208 billion from coal communities over the next 20 years, while the North American Reliability Corporation predicts a dangerously less reliable power grid with “the potential for wide-scale, uncontrolled outages.”
As a Wall Street Journal op-ed notes, however, the regulations will fail without the cooperation of the states, and six governors have already decided cooperating is not in their citizens’ interests.
If Pennsylvania’s governor does not have the good sense to follow suit, the legislature must act. Sacrificing an industry that supplies 40 percent of the state’s electricity, contributes more than $4 billion to the economy and, most importantly, provides good paying job, is simply too high a price to pay.