President Ronald Reagan said, "If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it." In continuing with that famous thought, one might suggest based on the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "If you want to eliminate something altogether, regulate it." This is certainly an accurate depiction of the fate coal seems to be facing as it goes head to head with the EPA.
Regardless of the hundreds of thousands of jobs created by and dependent upon coal not to mention the millions of Americans who rely on coal production to keep electricity costs low, some at the EPA seem determined to put coal out of business.
For an example of this, we need to look no further than AEP's Muskingum River plant, which is scheduled to close next year due to the burdensome costs of environmental regulations. The closure will negatively impact the local economy by causing 95 people to lose their jobs which will also impact other local families and businesses. In addition, the Village of Beverly is projected to lose $9,000 in income tax due to the overall closure, the Morgan County general fund may lose $109,000 and the Fort Frye school district anticipates losing property tax revenues in the amount of $1.4 million annually. As our economy continues to struggle, this is the last thing our local economy needs. But sadly there may be more closures ahead if the Obama Administration has its way.
You may remember during the 2008 campaign when Obama said, "If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can-it's just it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum."
The Administration is attempting to put that pledge into practice through their new CCS regulations, which were unveiled last month. CCS stands for "Carbon Capture and Storage" - a pleasant-sounding policy that will unfortunately hit Ohioans twice - first on their tax bill, and then again in their utility bill. CCS will mean Ohioans pay more every time they turn on a light.
There are several problems with the CCS regulations the Administration has proposed. The first of which is that no one has yet to successfully put it into practice. The second being that even if it were proven to work, the cost is prohibitive.
Despite these problems that would likely sideline any private sector project, the Administration seems intent on moving forward with these regulations that will increase electricity prices if they ever work successfully and in the meantime will be successful at putting one of our current largest sources of electricity, coal, out of business.
In Ohio, coal provides power for the equivalent of more than 4.5 million homes and 200,000 businesses. Based on the cost of electricity, Ohio ranks No. 27 in the nation in energy affordability, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Ohio ranks #10 in the nation in coal production and No. 4 in the nation in coal use. Direct and indirect employment generated by U.S. coal mining in Ohio accounts for 27,540 jobs, for a combined payroll of $1.6 billion.
As these numbers demonstrate, there is a great deal at stake for our nation and our local communities as these regulations move forward. What these numbers cannot show is the human costs incurred by these regulations. The jobs lost. The resulting impact they will have upon a community. The public comment period on the CCS regulations runs through March 10, which means you have time to weigh in. If you wish to comment on these over-the-top regulations that may only successfully work at driving coal out of business, I encourage you to do so by reaching out to the EPA and your elected officials. The next time you turn on the light switch, remember that the Obama Administration wants to turn the lights out on the coal industry. If they are successful, it will leave our economy in the dark for a long time.
Eli Miller is the Ohio state director of Americans for Prosperity.