September 6, 2018 Read More →

A plan that places coal above public health

The Trump administration’s proposed Affordable Clean Energy Rule is a scheme to prop up the flailing coal industry at any cost.

The proposed rule will slow any progress this nation could make toward reducing carbon emissions, a crucial step in the efforts to mitigate human-caused climate change.

It will also end lives. And that’s not hyperbole.

The Environmental Protection Agency predicts the rule could cause as many as 1,400 premature deaths a year by 2030. This is from an increase in soot in the air. The agency also estimates it could cause 48,000 new cases of asthma attacks and as many as 21,000 additional missed school days per year.

It’s not a good plan. Moreover, it can’t accomplish its intended goal. It can’t rescue the coal industry from market forces. Coal simply cannot compete with cleaner burning natural gas, which Texas has in abundance.

As the New York Times reported, more than 200 coal plants have shuttered since 2010 and 40 more coal plants have announced planned closures. Coal is more expensive than natural gas. More important, it’s bad for public health and exacerbates climate change.

Case closed. Or at least it should be. The mystery with this administration given the facts is why it isn’t.

Locally, CPS Energy plans to shutter its coal-fired J.T. Deely plant later this year, a welcome move. Some in the community also want CPS Energy to close its coal-fired Spruce 2 plant, which was built in 2010 for $1 billion and has a life span of 55 years.

Closing that plant is especially complicated, but as long as it is up and running, the plant will symbolize market forces. Spruce 2 would never be built in today’s energy market.

Not with solar and wind technology developing.

Not with such an abundance of natural gas.

Should this administration plan become reality, the EPA projects coal power usage would still decline by 20 percent by 2030. And with that decline will come more automation and a loss of jobs.

Consider this excerpt from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis’ 2017 U.S. Coal Outlook: “Promises to create more coal jobs will not be kept — indeed the industry will continue to cut payrolls. These losses will be related in part to the coal industry’s long-term business model of producing more coal with fewer workers.”

By contrast, the EPA predicted President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which this new rule would replace, would have dramatically reduced carbon emissions and improved public health while embracing natural gas and renewable energy sources.

A plan that places coal above public health

Posted in: IEEFA In the News

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