Pardon us if we don’t believe you

A new Politico.com article may have inadvertently let a post-election cat out of the bag.

“Uttered in 2008, still haunting Obama in 2012” looks at the political fallout suffered by the Obama campaign when then-candidate Obama gave an unguarded comment on his plans for coal-fueled energy. The article then touches on potential plans for energy policy after the 2012 election.

The now widely publicized comment by then-Senator Obama revealed his plan to have electricity rates “necessarily skyrocket” as he worked to “bankrupt” the coal industry. The full quote was,

“So if somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted, […]

When I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket, … Regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad, because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal-powered plants … would have to retrofit their operations. That’ll cost money; they will pass that money on to consumers.”

Skipping over his attack on utilities for passing the costs of his administration’s policies on to consumers, the Politico article moves on to Obama’s thoughts on retrofit requirements. They note that Obama has not moved forward on the notion of retrofits. They also quote the Obama administration’s objection to the idea that they have plans to implement retrofit requirements.

But the coal industry has heard those loving, reassurances before, and, like a chronically abused spouse, we’ve grown accustomed to the reality that those loving phrases inevitably precede the next assault. The reality is that with election-related constraints removed in a second term, there is every reason to expect that “past is prelude” will apply. But this time, the gloves will be off and the bruises already left by the EPA Train Wreck will seem minor in comparison.

Given his green base’s commitment to moving “beyond coal,” we can expect to see an immediate and strong push for retrofits on existing capacity added to the already oppressive nature of this administration’s first term proposals and policies – the GHG rule, Coal Ash, PM 2.5, Utility MACT, Boiler MACT, CSAPR, the Stream Buffer Rule, Ozone rule, retroactive revocation of Clean Water Act Section 404 permits, etc. etc., etc. In fact, when the EPA released their GHG rule for comment last week, green groups were quick to criticize the proposal as too limited or too weak, and demanded that it also include existing generation capacity.

The Politico article elaborates on future administration plans,

Thus far, the administration has avoided any retrofit requirements, but environmentalists will certainly push for them if Obama gets a second term. Meanwhile, they hope a cornered coal industry will find technological advances to drive down the cost of capturing carbon.

Last month, the EPA proposed restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions at future coal-fired power plants. And in December, the agency set strict mercury and air toxics standards for power plants — the impetus for some old coal plants to close, and many more to add costly upgrades before a 2015 deadline. More regulations for the coal-and-power industries are on the docket.

The White House denies that Obama’s aim is to deliver the death blow to coal.

Really? A far more believable story is that given the Obama administration’s strict anti-coal workout schedule over the past few years, a fresh election win under their belt would ensure next year’s anti-coal beating will be on steroids.

The article wraps up by quoting an administration spokesperson, noting their continued commitment to “double energy from clean sources” and “reduce pollution.”  Despite their protestations, it is obvious that this administration is nowhere near finished when it comes to coal. Encouraging an “all of the above” strategy at the same time as they target coal – the nation’s primary fuel for electricity generation – for extinction speaks loudly as to their real intentions. They ignore the environmental and efficiency improvements made by the industry; they ignore our affordability; they ignore our ability to provide reliable, domestic energy; they ignore the industry’s provision of hundreds of thousands of jobs. So why would we expect this to suddenly change when they no longer have to worry about reelection?

Unfortunately, the fallout of their war on coal” is not limited solely to the coal industry. Taking a short step back to survey the battle field reveals an entire nation heavily impacted by rising energy prices, shuttered communities, the loss of millions of jobs, restricted international competitiveness, and reduced efficiency. It reveals a nation weighed down by the requirement to heavily subsidize allegedly “free” and “abundant” renewable energy resources.  It reveals our nation’s industry hamstrung by the “train wreck” of extreme and rushed regulation. This step back reveals that even traditionally strong support groups for elected Democratic officials no longer believe the rhetoric. A recent statement by Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, publicly upbraided the Obama administration for its attacks on its coal mining members.

“The Navy SEALs shot Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and (EPA Administrator) Lisa Jackson shot us in Washington,”

In that same vein, a statement by the Democratic Governor of West Virginia,  Earl Ray Tomblin, openly declared that the Obama administration’s EPA was,

act(ing) beyond its authority and in a short-sighted manner that will hurt our economy and cost our country jobs. I will continue to vigorously defend our great state against the EPA’s overreaching, ideologically-driven policies that threaten to kill coal.

It is often said that you shouldn’t just listen to what a person says, you should also watch what they do. Well, the coal industry has listened to the promises. We’ve listened to the apologies and the excuses. We’ve listened to the reassuring words and the gestures of friendship. Then we’ve watched as this administration’s war on coal unfolded and rolled over us like a river.

Now when we hear that there are no plans to “deliver a death blow to coal,” we are forced to ask, “Would they admit it if there were?”

No, we’ve been there and done that all before.

Pardon us if we don’t believe you.

06. April 2012 by Jason Hayes
Categories: CCT, CSAPR, Election 2012, Environment, EPA, Government resources, Jobs, Marketplace Information, Mining, Policy, Regulation, sequestration, Stream Buffer Zone Rule, Utilities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pardon us if we don’t believe you