Regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Interior, and the Department of Labor have been labeled President Barack Obama’s “war on coal.” A more precise label would be a “war on American families, businesses, and jobs.” Unnecessarily and artificially eliminating coal as a reliable, affordable energy source would dramatically harm the economy.
If the regulations on the coal industry are allowed to stand, they will almost certainly destroy the coal industry, with predictable, undesirable economic effects on the rest of the country.
Tomorrow, the President’s speech on climate change will likely discuss the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon dioxide regulations on new power plants and announce CO2 regulations on existing power plants. Implementing those regulations along with other EPA regulations—such as the utility MACT rule, Cross State Air Pollution rule, coal ash regulations, and national ambient air quality standards—would make building a new coal plant extremely difficult, while significantly decreasing the lifespan of existing plants.
Analysis from the Heritage Foundation (in a forthcoming paper that will also examine the effects on natural gas prices and manufacturing jobs) finds that significantly reducing coal’s share in America’s energy mix would, before 2030:
- Destroy more than 500,000 jobs,
- Cause a family of four to lose more than $1,000 in annual income, and
- Increase electricity prices by 20 percent.
Even worse, the Americans forced into unemployment lines and those paying higher energy prices couldn’t even claim that their suffering is helping to save the planet. If America stopped all carbon emissions, it would decrease the global temperature by only 0.08 degrees Celsius by 2050.
The war on coal provides no hope for the economy and little change in the earth’s temperature. Not quite the hope and change Americans desired.