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The Human Consequences of EPA's War on Coal

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Unread 05.03.12, 01:57 PM
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The Human Consequences of EPA's War on Coal

On 05.03.12 07:55 AM posted by Lachlan Markay

There are very real consequences to the Environmental Protection Agency’s continued efforts to undermine America’s coal industry. Those consequences were recently spotlighted in an industry-produced video, embedded above.

Maria Tworek owns a sports bar in Omaha, Nebraska. “Our energy bills are sky-high,” Tworek explains. The bar has to keep its cooling facilities running 24/7 to keep all of its beer cold. If “we can’t cool our product, we don’t make money,” Tworek says. “It’s as simple as that.”

The bar is Tworek’s livelihood. “This is how we live,” she says. “This is how we support our family.”

Nebraska is a coal-intensive state. According to the video, 71% of the state’s power comes from coal. And while the state has the 11th lowest electricity costs in the nation, Tworek says “prices seem to continually go up.”

If the EPA has its way, those price hikes will only intensify. For the first time ever, the agency has classified carbon dioxide, the chemical compound that sustains vegetative life, as a “pollutant.” Using the resulting authority over carbon emission regulations, the EPA now plans restrictions on coal power plants that are so stringent, they will likely herald the demise of coal’s role in electricity production.

“New coal plants would effectively be banned because their emission rate is almost double that of the proposed standard,” explains Bloomberg’s Rob Barnett in a new report (subscription required).

Because coal is such a cheap source of electricity – by far the cheapest, according to the Energy Information Administration – increases in the price of coal brought on by declining production would likely lead to significantly higher prices for electricity consumers. States such as Nebraska, which are particularly reliant on coal, would be hit hardest.

But other EPA regulations are hiking prices for other sources of electricity. According to a study by consulting company NERA conducted last year, EPA policies may add $52 billion to Americans’ electricity bills by 2022.

That means higher energy bills for Maria Tworek and everyone else who buys electricity. There are real, human consequences of electricity price hikes, something that policymakers would do well to keep in mind.

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