PMA Bulletin -- September 25, 2013

No War on Coal? Bridge in New York for Sale

The Obama administration is attempting to re-invent America’s energy sector by completely eliminating fossil fuels. From the recently-proposed EPA standards for CO2 emissions for new coal-fired power plants to the five-year delay in the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada’s oil sands, the Administration is thwarting the development of affordable domestic energy and with it, foregoing thousands of new American jobs. The purported environment benefits of this regulatory stranglehold are dubious at best: Scientists say that further reducing greenhouse gas emissions will have little environmental benefit, if any at all. Additionally, CO2 emissions are currently declining, thanks in large part to the natural gas industry that the Obama administration targets as well.

The latest EPA standards for CO2 emissions will effectively stop construction of new coal plants because the levels of carbon permitted require control technology that’s still undeveloped and commercially unviable. The irony is, the proposed standards will only lead to higher emission levels in the future.

CEO of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, John Pippy, said that by discouraging the construction of new plants, you’re also effectively stopping the development of sequestration, long-term underground storage of carbon, and other containment technologies.

“Without the incentive, the technology for better containment will stop dead in its tracks,” Pippy said. “That means that India, China, and other rapidly growing countries that rely on inexpensive coal power production will not be able to take advantage of future technologies.”

Every consumer of energy will pay for this free market hijacking. Homeowners will not only pay higher prices for electricity, but also for food, clothing, and other goods as the overhead cost of manufacture these products rises.

Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association (PMA), David N. Taylor, calls the standards “towering arrogance.”

“As we endure the slowest economic recovery following a recession in our nation’s history, Pennsylvania’s economy is being led by development in the energy sector,” Taylor said. “President Obama’s latest assault on America’s energy economy is a direct attack on Pennsylvania coal, Pennsylvania’s power generators, and every Pennsylvanian who pays an electric bill. Even more arrogant is the EPA’s insistence on requiring the use of technologies that do not yet exist; they might as well finish the job and mandate Cold Fusion instead.”

The rules on new plants are only the beginning, warns the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). In June, 2014, the EPA is scheduled to unveil CO2 rules covering existing coal plants.

“Obviously, the path they’re going done is ominous,” said NAM’s Director of Energy and Resources Policy, Greg Bertelsen. “The question is how will they handle other sources in the future, the pulp and paper plants, chemical and other manufacturers. They’re going to be telling us how to operate our plants.”

Job losses will extend beyond the coal industry, although it will be the hardest hit initially under the proposed standards. United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) President, Cecil E. Roberts, released a statement saying that for the union, there is no issue of greater importance.

“This is about whether or not our members have a future working in an industry that provides steady employment. It is about whether or not our members can continue to earn good wages, provide for their families and be the main economic drivers of the communities where they live. It is also about whether the more than 100,000 UMWA retirees, their dependents and widows who currently receive health care and pension benefits will find those benefits at risk,” Roberts said.

New facts about climate change don’t support the alleged rationale for the new CO2 standards. Climatologists now say that globally, man accounts for three percent of CO2 emissions, and the U.S. contribution is far less than that.

“If the United States ceased to exist tomorrow the benefits from the reduction in CO2 would be virtually no existent compared to the rest of the world,” said University of Alabama Climate Scientist, Dr. John R. Christy.

Coal isn’t the only enemy of the state for the Obama Administration. Five long years ago TransCanada Corp. applied for a permit for a pipeline, the Keystone XL, to transport oil sands to the Southern U.S. for refining. The project has been examined, prodded, and dissected, with no evidence found that it will have any adverse impact on the environment. Jobs abound from the potential project. It will, according to the Associated Petroleum Institute (API), produce 42,000 jobs and billions in new tax revenue. Yet the permit sits, unsigned, in the President’s office.

The API of Pennsylvania has scheduled an October 2 press conference in Pittsburgh to begin building a coalition to fight for permit approval, a coalition that represents the breath of society; government officials from both parties, organized labor and industry, sportsmen, and farmers.

“We don’t want a sixth anniversary to go by without approval,” said API of Pennsylvania Executive Director Stephanie Catarino Wissman. Wissman added that stopping the pipeline won’t stop development of the oil sands. “If we don’t take advantage of this opportunity, Canada is simply going to look elsewhere,” she said.

The public overwhelmingly supports this construction as well. A June 2013 Harris Poll showed that 82% of Americans believe Keystone XL is in the national interest.

So what’s holding it back? Here’s at least part of the picture. A recent article in the New Yorker on California billionaire and environmental activist, Tom Steyer, who is also a major Obama fundraiser, shows he’s an investor in one of the Keystone’s competitors. Steyer is also using his anti-pipeline campaign to unite environmentalists behind a common cause, according to the story. Is that the entire reason? Maybe not. But more often than not, all you have to do is follow the money.

KXL Press Conference Participants include:

  • American Petroleum Institute - Stephanie Catarino Wissman
  • PIOGA - Lou D'Amico
  • Congressional and Senate Delegation - Message from Senator Toomey recorded from DC - many staff members confirmed.
  • Labor Leaders - LiUNA, Steelworkers, Operating Engineers
  • Business Community Leaders - State Chamber, U.S. Steel
  • Veterans Community Leaders - VFW
  • Sportsman and Agriculture Community Leaders

When: Wednesday, October 2nd 1:30pm
Where: Soldiers and Sailors Museum, 4141 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh

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