The difficult adjustments that domestic coal operators are making in a rapidly evolving energy market have been made “immeasurably more difficult” for their employees and mine communities by reckless federal regulations, said Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association (NMA). Addressing the annual energy outlook conference of the U.S. Energy Association last week at the National Press Club, Quinn said newer, larger coal power plants will generate electricity more efficiently and cleanly. But substantial capacity has already been retired and more capacity is still at risk because of various rules by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that now threaten the reliability of the grid and the affordability of electricity. “What EPA is doing is depriving households and businesses of the lowest cost electricity available today,” Quinn said.
Citing energy experts from grid regulators to economists, Quinn described the growing chorus of critics now warning that the agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan puts both electricity affordability and reliability at risk.
Increasingly, Quinn said, governors whose states are expected to implement the plan are calling into question its assumptions, its timeframes for implementation and its very feasibility. “Governors are realising that long after this administration is gone from office, they’ll be trying to explain rising electricity prices to their constituents,” Quinn said.
In a global energy market that is not expected to improve significantly in 2015, Quinn suggested that the best news for fossil energy producers in the New Year may come from Washington. A friendlier Congress will conduct closer oversight hearings to expose instances of regulatory overreach, he said, and the Supreme Court will decide several cases brought by NMA that could result in a more balanced regulatory environment.
Picture courtesy of Alpha Natural Resources.