Today hundreds of Hoosier comments and concerns were presented at the Chicago office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during a listening session to gather public input on its plans to put strict regulations on existing coal-fired electric power plants across Indiana and the nation.
The EPA is holding listening sessions on anticipated greenhouse-gas restrictions in cities like Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. But it refused to hold listening sessions in coal-intense states like Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia. Gov. Pence issued a letter on Nov. 1, urging the EPA to hold listening sessions in Indiana for regulations on both existing and new coal-fired plants.
“Indiana produces over 80 percent of its electricity from coal-fueled generation, while states EPA will visit produce only a combined 30 percent of their electricity from coal,” Gov. Pence stated.
While scores of coal-industry representatives made the hours-long trek to Chicago, they took with them comments shared by more than 400 Hoosiers opposing any further regulations from the EPA on coal-fired electricity. Outcries opposing the expected regulations came from Hoosiers from cities and towns across the state, such as Goshen, Ft. Wayne, Syracuse, Evansville, Bloomington, Terre Haute, Lafayette, Fishers, Carmel, Indianapolis and Greenfield. Many cited the loss of jobs, the threat of doubling energy bills, and the crippling impact the anticipated greenhouse-gas regulations could likely have on Indiana.
"Elimination of this abundant and American fuel supply is irresponsible and a detriment to consumers and business across our nation," State Representative Matt Ubelhor said in comments he sent to be shared at the EPA listening session. "As all Americans struggle financially, eliminating or adding additional energy cost will be harmful to our already weakened economy. While I have a great desire to have an even cleaner environment, we should do this through technology, not crippling regulation that is harmful to all." Ubelhor urged the EPA to "slow down and do it correctly," in terms of regulating greenhouse-gas emissions.
Bruce Stevens, vice president of the Indiana Coal Council, gave live testimony before the EPA today, stating that the “EPA’s proposal is contrary to the Clean Air Act requiring technology to be adequately demonstrated." Stevens went on to say: "There is no technology currently being utilized that has proven to capture and store carbon dioxide in large amounts, particularly from existing units. As a result, EPA’s proposal as applied to coal-fired units does not meet the statutory requirements of the Clean Air Act.”
National energy economist Gene Trisko visited Indiana in September to share a study he completed on the impact the EPA greenhouse-gas regulations would have on Hoosier energy bills. His estimation was a potential doubling of energy costs. However, Count on Coal, an effort sponsored by the National Mining Association, reports that experts across the country say energy bills could triple if all of the regulations are imposed.
Many Hoosiers are concerned about what those costs could do to the poorest of the poor. “Any reduction in coal-fired energy will be the most regressive action taken on the poor by the United States government–most regressive action ever,” said Keith Haley of Newburgh, Ind.
Bob Vincent of Indianapolis, 76, expressed his concern for the impact the anticipated regulations would have on the elderly’s energy bills: “Would the EPA and the White House have us believe we have any practical means of replacing coal at this time or have they even considered our long-term energy needs?” Vincent said. “If they achieve their stated goal of eliminating reasonable energy sources, then I firmly believe we will see disastrous results among the poor and elderly–especially during the winter months. Is this the next step toward a totally socialist society in our country?”
Mindy Taskey of Seymour, Ind., expressed her concerns about what the new regulations would do to her family’s energy bills. “Our electric bills are high enough as they stand today,” she said. “We have many families currently who struggle to keep their electric bills paid.” She also questioned why the EPA wasn’t holding listening sessions in states’ that are the most affected by the regulations.
Many others expressed exasperation with what they perceived to be the president’s ideology-based war on coal.
“We must stop the war on coal at the expense of the American economy,” Anthony Reisman of Carmel said. “There is no perfect solution to future energy needs…..we must continue to explore and use all U.S. coal reserves because coal-fired plant infrastructure is already in place, resulting in cheaper electricity cost. If we keep raising the cost of electricity, Indiana as well as the whole USA will continue to lose manufacturing jobs to China.”
Gloria Long of Kokomo pleaded with the EPA to see reason, and questioned its representative authority of Hoosier citizens. “Coal is an important resource for fuel and is affordable,” she shared in her comments. “Recent technology has allowed for clean coal production. Do not limit coal production. Restrictions should be voted on by state legislators representing the people of that state. The EPA represents no one.”
While Bob Blass of Fishers questioned the EPA’s ability to connect with the American people. “As an American, I am astonished at the proposed EPA greenhouse gas regulations,” he said. “The hardships that will be caused directly from these ill-conceived and ridiculous regulations smacks of a governmental agency that is out of touch with reality. Coal needs to be a significant part of the energy mix for the foreseeable future. I do not support these regulations, and will do everything in my power to turn the tables and right the course. We are on the wrong track here.”
The EPA expects to begin the required 60-day comment period on greenhouse-gas emissions for new coal-fired power plants soon. No date for the comment period has been announced yet. Many opposed to the anticipated EPA regulations fear it will be announced during the holidays, in an effort to detract Americans’ attention from this crucial issue.
COUNT ON COAL: Count on Coal is a grassroots organization that seeks to identify, educate and recruit Americans to support our mission to keep electricity affordable by protecting and promoting the use of our abundant coal for power generation.