A fading union speaks up too late about the EPA’s new Mercury Air Toxics Standard.
UMW president Cecil Roberts writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Last December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule intended to reduce electric utility emissions of mercury and other air toxics. The EPA projected that less than 5,000 megawatts of older coal-fueled generating plants would be retired as a result of its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule.
The United Mine Workers of America and other unions met with EPA officials repeatedly over the course of the rulemaking to share our analysis of the rule’s potential impacts and to recommend several improvements to it. Our study suggested that up to 56,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity at smaller and older plants could be “at risk” of premature closure. We told EPA that as many as 54,000 direct jobs were at risk in the utility, mining and rail transport sectors, in addition to 200,000 jobs in related industries and communities impacted by plant closures.
We also made it clear that we supported the rule’s basic objective of reducing mercury and other harmful emissions. Our principal concerns were the inadequate time provided for compliance and the feasibility of meeting some of the proposed emission limits with different types of coal.
But the EPA ignored our concerns. Instead, the agency created a rule that not only will cause far more negative effects on the utility and coal industries than it is willing to admit; the rule will also make it next to impossible for new coal-fired power plants to be built based on current technologies.
This is bad policy and has the potential for serious repercussions for our nation’s energy security.