The coal industry will likely suffer the same fate as Osama bin Laden after the Environmental Protection Agency rolled out new greenhouse-gas standards for power plants, the head of a major mine workers union said this week.
The United Mine Workers Association’s president blasted a proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation to limit new power plants to 1,000 metric tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, saying the rule would spell the same fate for coal power that the al-Qaida leader suffered.
“The Navy SEALs shot Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, and Lisa Jackson shot us in Washington,” UMWA President Cecil Roberts told a West Virginia radio station Tuesday.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson hailed the proposed rule as a cost-effective way to transition the U.S. toward a cleaner fleet of power facilities, noting that current plants are grandfathered in and won’t have to comply.
The proposal has gotten mixed reactions from Democrats, Republicans and environmentalists.
Democrats cheered the proposal, but environmentalists have said the proposal served merely as a first step. Coal industry groups and Republicans strongly criticized the proposal, saying it could doom new power plants running on that fuel because the needed technology to capture carbon emissions isn’t yet commercially available.
Roberts said the EPA had over stepped its authority and the new standards likely meant the end to coal-fired plants in the U.S.
“This rule is in all-out, in my opinion, decision by the EPA that we’re never going to have another coal-fired facility in the United States that’s constructed,” he said.
He said the Obama administration, which the group supported, likely killed the coal industry.
“I noticed this past week the vice president was talking about the campaign and he mentioned that Osama Bin Laden was dead and General Motors was alive,” Roberts said during the radio interview. “He should have gone on to say that the coal industry is not far behind with respect to what happened to Osama Bin Laden.”
Jackson has argued that the EPA rule would simply facilitate the power industry’s ongoing transition to lower-carbon fuels, as nearly all modern natural gas plants can already comply. She said EPA modeling suggests carbon-capture methods for coal power, while still in the demonstration phase, “will become commercially available in the next 10 years.”
She said the rule would have flexibility for coal power plants that don’t start out with carbon-capture technologies by letting the operators average their emissions over a 30-year period. That would mean coal plants that don’t start with carbon capture would need to make steeper cuts over time to hit that the 1,000-metric-ton annual limit.
Roberts said he’s gravely concerned about whether carbon-capture technologies will become available and alleged that th EPA is trying to kill the future of coal power plants.
“Coal is the fastest growing energy source in the world, and they’ve decided, at the EPA, well, ‘We’re going to control what goes into the atmosphere worldwide by halting the construction of coal-fired facilities in the United States,’” Roberts said. “It doesn’t work, for one thing, and, the second thing, it is just devastating for our economy.”