An estimated 3,000 mine workers from around the country, including our area, will be marching on the nation’s capitol today, urging lawmakers and the president to kick back against new Environmental Protection Agency regulations affecting new coal-fired power plants in the country.
According to the EPA, roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions come from power plants. Under the new rules, proposed in September, any new plant constructed must adhere to a carbon emissions limit of 1,100-pounds per megawatt-hour over a 12-month operating period.
The “Count on Coal: American Energy Jobs Rally” is from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Mining outfits and coal advocacy groups from the area and around the state that are joining in the rally include Rosebud Mining Co., CONSOL Energy, Inc., Berwind Natural Resources Corp., Murray Energy Corp. and the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance.
Representatives said it’s an effort to give a voice to those who will be affected by the new rules. It’s also a plea for more time for the coal industry to handle carbon emission rates without new regulation.
“This is not a political issue – this is an American issue,” said Count on Coal spokesman Jason Fitzgerald.
“This is harmful for two reasons: There are a number of jobs that will be affected by (the new regulations).
“Secondly ... somewhere around 45 percent of electricity generation comes from coal. Clearly, if you make it tougher to have a coal-fired power plant, that’s going to increase the cost of electricity significantly.”
Sources in the mining industry, who declined to be named, said the price of coal has nearly doubled in the last year due to regulation. Also, that its wide domestic availability made it historically one of the cheapest energy sources.
Now, the new regulations will make it “impossible” for any new coal-fired plants to come online in the U.S., according to Fitzgerald.
“It’s going to be jobs that are lost as a result of all this. Also, the increase of electricity rates,” he said. “A lot of the plants that are online now will see the writing on the wall, so to speak, and say, ‘Look we need to change our plant from coal-fired to some other source.’ ”
Industry sources said if new plants can be affected now, it could leave the door open for carbon regulation at existing plants.
If it comes to that, the most expensive operation a company has will be the first to get shut down.
Justin Dennis is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/JustinDennis.