EPA rules could cost coal industry billions

New emissions control rules could cost the coal industry $300 billion and put half the of U.S. coal-fired generation at risk, the head of Southern Co. was quoted as saying in testimony to a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on new and pending Environmental Protection Agency rules.

Southern Co. CEO Tom Fanning, citing a study from the Edison Electric Institute, said pending rules could put 50 percent of generation in jeopardy by 2015 because EPA isn’t giving the industry enough time to install emissions control technology or replace coal with new fuels.

“The economic impact of controlling or replacing retired coal-fired generation nationwide will range from increased electricity rates and lower discretionary spending, to losses of jobs and tax revenues at power plants and energy-intensive manufacturing,” Fanning was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.

DTE Energy executive chairman Anthony Earley Jr. agreed with Fanning.

“We are especially concerned about the narrow compliance window associated with some of them, particularly the EGU MACT (Electric Generating Unit Maximum Available Contol Technology) ,” Earley said. “We believe it will result in more short-term thinking and approaches that will cost our customers much more in both the near and long term.”

Earley also questioned the EPA’s decision not to apply a health-based standard to proposed regulation of acid gasses, but rather to require technology that isn’t necessary in all cases.

“They claim that there is not enough information or time to utilize the health-based standard,” he said. “Isn’t that one of the very issues at hand?  How wise is it to subject an industry so critical to America’s way of life, its standard of living, and its economic vitality to billions of dollars of additional costs because the regulating agency does not choose to the take the time to produce a more reasonable approach?”

Lawmakers examined three EPA actions: a proposal to reduce hazardous air pollutants at coal-fired power plants, final rules cutting emissions from industrial boilers and standards for air toxics stemming from the cement industry.

The House in May will begin considering legislation that would delay the EPA’s plans, the article said.

During a separate speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce April 13, Fanning that the EPA should not set national energy policy, instead leaving that task to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

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