NMA Warns New Power Plant Rules Means Higher Utility Bills

Bans Construction of the Most Efficient Power Plants Built with Today’s Best-in-Class Technology

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New proposed regulations from the Obama administration will force power plants to abandon the use of coal, the largest source of the nation’s electricity, resulting in higher utility bills for households and businesses and lost opportunities for responsibly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the National Mining Association (NMA) said today.

The proposed New Source Performance Standard, or NSPS, to be issued later this week by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), would require new power plants to meet an emissions standard that cannot be achieved with any control technologies currently commercially available.

“With this regulation the administration is gambling with the nation’s energy economy,” said Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the national trade association representing the U.S. coal producers and equipment suppliers. “The rule effectively bans construction of the most efficient power plants the nation will need to provide affordable electricity for a growing economy and will certainly create further economic hardships for millions of families, especially those most vulnerable to higher energy costs.”

Coal is the largest single source of America’s electricity, providing over 40 percent of U.S. electricity generation. Coal, along with natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy, provides the U.S. with a strong mix that insures consumers receive a consistent and affordable supply of energy for their homes and businesses.

Quinn also warned that the new rule is an ill-timed blow to the economy, putting thousands of valuable middle-class jobs at risk. The coal mining industry supports more than 800,000 jobs, with every direct mining job supporting four jobs in other sectors, such as energy, heavy equipment, transportation and manufacturing. He said it is also harmful to the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing considering that states with the highest percent of affordable, coal-based electricity are the states with the highest percent of manufacturers.

A rule scheduled for next year will also set conditions for existing power plants and speed the closure of substantial coal-based generating capacity, risking billions of dollars already invested in power plants to comply with earlier EPA regulations

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to base standards on technologies that have been adequately demonstrated, not those that have not reached commercial viability like carbon capture and storage technology. The point of demonstration, Quinn said, “is when commercial performance is assured, not when regulators think it sounds like a good idea.”

By ignoring the law now, EPA is also setting a dangerous and far-reaching precedent for the broader economy and the agency’s future efforts.

“Today’s story is about coal,” Quinn said. “But tomorrow the story could be about other industries forced to comply with arbitrary standards based on unproven technologies.”

NMA is advising the administration to minimize risks to America’s energy sector. “The more responsible course is to base standards on the best-in-class technology available today,” Quinn said. “That will allow us to continue our steady emissions reductions and supply Americans with affordable electricity.”