Editorial: Fight to Block Unrealistic EPA Rules Continues

It may end up being a largely symbolic vote, but this week the U.S. Senate voiced the same concerns about new energy rules that industry leaders and officials in our region have been stressing for several years.

The Clean Power Plan, as proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, will not work, and the cost of the idealistic regulations to residents in our region and across the country will be high.

Tuesday the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution introduced by West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp to block the EPA regulations. The body also passed a resolution introduced by Kentucky's Mitch McConnell and West Virginia's Joe Manchin disapproving the regulation.

"If the administrations proposed Clean Power Plan moves forward, hardship will be felt across the country," Capito said in proposing her resolution. "Fewer job opportunities, higher power bills and less reliable electricity will result."

Both measures will move to the House for consideration, but even with passage there, President Obama would likely veto the resolutions.

The regulations seek to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent by the year 2030. States must submit draft plans by 2016 and a final plan by 2018. Then compliance enforcement begins in 2022.

But if the discussion at an energy symposium in Huntington this week is any indication, the goals of the Clean Power Plan are largely unachievable at the present time.

"The carbon rules in this plan can't be accomplished," Thomas Clarke, senior policy adviser at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, told the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce's 11th annual Energy and Natural Resource Energy Symposium. "I think there are reasons that justify an extension of time to initiate the Clean Power Plan."

Meanwhile, the current EPA regulations already have contributed to the downturn in the coal industry, with thousands of jobs already lost in West Virginia and Kentucky. The new rules would almost certainly add to that decline and to the difficult economic challenges our region already faces.

While the administration contends the EPA changes will not increase energy costs, many in the industry maintain they certainly will. One mining industry study estimates consumers will pay an additional $214 billion by 2030, with most states seeing double-digit increases in wholesale electricity costs.

Proponents of the new regulations say they will go forward despite these resolutions, but we commend our federal delegation for looking at every approach to block the new rules.

Source: Huntington Herald-Dispatch