The EPA may be the most aggressive, job-killing government agency ever created. Initially formed by President Richard Nixon in 1970 to combat pollution, the agency has morphed into a body that ignores the impact of costly and excessive regulations. It has been criticized for gross overreach and interpreting environmental rules to suit the thinking of career, insider bureaucrats.
The impact of EPA rule-making has decimated the fishing industry, cattle farmers, hampered agriculture and put thousands of people out of work. The EPA’s unabashed war on coal has crippled an industry that hard working Americans relied on to keep their families afloat. Although efforts are being made to revive coal mines and jobs, these are some of the harshest EPA assaults on coal mining.
Clean Power Plan
When former President Obama unveiled his Clean Power Plan (CPP) initiative to reduce CO2, environmental groups heaped on the praise. The EPA-driven policy sought to cut power plant emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels. For green proponents, it stood as bold, planet-saving leadership. For the working-class people tied into the energy sector, not so much.
Obama’s policy would come at a cost of $8.4 billion. After challenging 90 power plants, 66 would likely close leaving 80,000 people out of work. Associated industries such as the coal sector would send more than 125,000 people to the unemployment lines. The loss of other energy-associated jobs could push the number to nearly 300,000. And, taxpayers would be on the hook for about $30 billion in unemployment benefits to support those the EPA effectively handed pink slips. The Clean Power Plan is the King Kong of all job killers.
Death by 1,000 Paper Cuts
Under the previous administration, the EPA and coal miners became mortal enemies. If not for a policy shift under the Trump Administration, the CPP would have buried the coal industry once and for all. But before CPP was planned as the coup de grace policy to “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” as Hillary Clinton said, the EPA had a lengthy list of smaller, industry-harming regulations in place. These include:
- Cross-State Air Pollution Rule: This targeted interstate emissions such as sulfur dioxide, calling for an incredible 73-percent reduction.
- Mercury and Air Toxic Standards: In 2012, the EPA created mercury standards that forced companies to employ “maximum achievable control technology” (MACT) to lower emissions. The rule would cost power plants approximately $9.6 billion each year.
- Coal Combustion Residuals: Also known as the “coal ash rule,” the EPA designated coal ash a hazardous environmental byproduct and put protocols in place for its disposal that cost the industry between $20-$90 billion annually.
- Cooling Water Intake Structures: Coal-fired power plants sometimes import water from lakes and streams to cool their systems and then return the water to the source. Although the water is not toxic or altered when returned, the EPA designed this rule to protect the methods of intake and return so that fish didn’t occasionally get sucked in. The EPA estimated it would cost the industry $384 million each year. The Electric Power Research Institute reported it would be closer to $64 billion.
The EPA has demonstrated a penchant for creating regulations that negatively affect the coal mining industry. These rules have raised the cost of electricity for average Americans and pushed power plants to switch from coal to other products. The collateral damage of the EPA’s regulatory war has been the workers and small towns of the major coal-producing states such as Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania among others.