May 18, 2023 - New proposed regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have been revealed and again call for a rapid reduction in the use of fossil fuels for electric generation in the United States. The rules are out for a 60 day public comment period and some West Virginians plan to have plenty to say about them.
State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he intended to take on the agency again in court if necessary to stop the provisions which, if enacted, would largely eliminate the use of coal as a source of fuel for power generation by 2040 and significantly reduce natural gas in the energy mix.
“This is probably the most aggressive plan we’ve seen. Some people are calling it ‘Clean Power Plan 2.0’, I think it’s about 4.0. They’re super charging all of the pieces they tried to do in the past,” said Morrisey in an appearance on MetroNews Talkline.
Morrisey has fought this fight before. His office sued the EPA, taking the challenge all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court with success. He anticipated they’ll have to do it again, but doesn’t believe it’s a fight that should happen.
“When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in our case, they made it very clear you can’t regulate coal out of existence, but that’s what they’re trying to do through another name,” he explained. “We shouldn’t have to go through all of this again, but we will do whatever is imaginable to protect West Virginia because the threat is very, very real.”
United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts is another raising considerable concern about the proposed regulations. Roberts said the proposals make no sense.
“We saw outages reach an all time high, we’re increasing demand for electricity, and we’re proposing a rule to take coal out of the mix altogether. Natural Gas would still be in the mix, but at a reduced amount of generation,” he said.
The new rules would allow for the continued use of those carbon based fuels if new technology like carbon sequestration is implemented. However, the technology isn’t practical and few anticipate it will develop into a practical consideration before the 2035 deadline to have it in place. Roberts is among those who believes the formula is risky, not only for West Virginia’s economy, but the nation’s power needs are being placed in a precarious situation.
“What has replaced the coal sector over the past many years has been natural gas, but now we’re saying as we look to the future, we’re going to eliminate some of the natural gas and use hydrogen, which comes with its own set of problems,” Roberts said.
“If you have a theoretical or undemonstrated technology, that doesn’t cut the mustard and doesn’t work. I think that’s going to be fatal for them, for many other reasons too I think this is going to go down,” Morrisey said.
According to Roberts, coal is already dying a natural death, but to accelerate the process made no sense, particularly when it’s coming at the cost of good paying jobs in the Appalachian region. Roberts added the promised replacement jobs are not coming nearly as fast as promised and aren’t nearly as lucrative.
“Why we want to expedite this loss of employment, loss of tax base, and suffering in these areas that have already given a lot, at the very least doesn’t seem fair,” Roberts said.