While the media was focused on stories last week about the House committee decision to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt and the subsequent declaration of executive privilege by the White House to delay the provision of information the committee had been seeking about Operation Fast and Furious for over a year, Americans were being deprived of one of the most affordable and proven sources of electrical power, coal.
In the Senate, on June 20, a resolution to block the imposition of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards for hazardous air pollutant emissions from power plants failed.
The vote was 46 ayes to 53 nays. Among the Republicans who sided with the Democrats to kill the measure were Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and the two Maine Senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snow, neither of whom is a Republican in anything but name only. Their support of the EPA regulation will cost Americans dearly in jobs and the cost of electricity.
The Utility MACT rule is so bogus, so based on illusionary computer models, so devoid of any real science that it constitutes a brazen act of criminality. It asserts that the health risks from mercury emissions is such that it is necessary to impose a rule that, by its own estimates, implementing it will cost $9.6 billion in 2016.
Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute points out that “in the 22 years since Congress tasked the EPA to study the health risks of mercury, the agency has not identified a single child whose learning or other disabilities can be traced to prenatal mercury exposure.” EPA cited the mercury risk as the “trigger” for the MACT rule.
There is no public health hazard from burning coal to produce electricity, but there is a very real hazard when such plants close down and cease to provide it.
The American Energy Institute notes that “coal’s share of U.S. electricity is expected to fall to below 40 percent this year from 42 percent last year and produce the lowest share since data was collected in 1949. Just five or six years ago, its share of electricity generation was 50 percent.”