The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to ensure that everything is bigger in Texas, including the state’s electricity rates and unemployment lines.
On July 7, the EPA adopted a rule to place even more stringent regulations on sulfur dioxide emissions that could shut down the use of lignite coal in Texas.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson assured Texans that their economy and coal production would be just fine:
Texas has an ample range of cost-effective emission reduction options for complying with the requirements of this rule without threatening reliability or the continued operation of coal-burning units, including those that burn lignite from local mining operations.
Kathleen Hartnett White, director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, strongly disagrees. She wrote in the Dallas Morning News (subscription required):
Retrofitting plants that now use lignite would involve three to four years of engineering, fabrication, boiler re-construction, new rail construction and complex new permits—at multi-billion dollar costs. Texas electric companies recently testified to the Texas Public Utility Commission that the rule may force closure of plants and limited operations of other plants.
About 11 percent of electricity in Texas comes from lignite coal, and overall, plants in Texas cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 33 percent in the last decade alone. White also points out:
Directly and indirectly, lignite mining supports 10,000 to 14,000 jobs and is the lifeblood of the local tax base and business in many Texas communities. Lignite contributes $1.3 billion to the state’s economy and $71 million to state revenues.
When President Obama said electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket as a result of his cap-and-trade system, he also said, “So if someone wants to build a coal power plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”
While cap and trade never became law, President Obama is making good on his promise to find other ways to skin the cat. He’s also making good on his promise to bankrupt coal, and he’s destroying jobs in the process.