JUNE 18, 2014

EPA coal regulations would hurt the elderly

'These regulations will act like a national energy tax, taking out our lowest cost and most affordable electricity'
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WASHINGTON, DC, June 13 - The elderly will be among the hardest hit by the administration's war on coal and its onerous impact on the cost of electricity, according to senior advocate Dan Weber.

"Seniors, particularly the millions who live on fixed incomes, have no choice but to cut back in other ways when rates go up, as they surely will if and when the EPA's newest regulatory plans for coal powered electricity go into effect," Weber, who is president of the Association of Mature American Citizens, said.

A new Harris poll shows that the great majority of Americans are fearful of rate hikes if coal powered electricity is removed from the nation's energy mix.  Seventy-six per cent of respondents said they are worried about the impact of new regulations on coal-powered electricity costs.  Among the elderly, 88% said they believe they will be hurt by rate hikes.

AMAC reached out to the National Mining Association, which commissioned the survey and which said "these regulations will act like a national energy tax, taking out our lowest cost and most affordable electricity and replacing it with more costly and less reliable sources."  The NMA also told AMAC that the impact will be felt throughout the U.S. economy for some time to come. 

"The administration has consistently taken a ham-handed approach to economic recovery and job creation and this is yet another disruptive element," Weber added.  "The NMA told us that virtually every sector of the economy will be affected by the EPA regulatory proposal.  It will make the costs to run businesses-from small businesses to large manufacturing companies-more expensive, thus harming U.S. competitiveness."

Meanwhile, unions are up in arms over the EPA's proposed regulations.  The United Mineworkers of America issued a scathing statement: "Our initial analysis indicates that there will be a loss of 75,000 direct coal generation jobs in the United States by 2020. Those are jobs primarily in coal mines, power plants, and railroads. By 2035, those job losses will more than double to 152,000. That amounts to about a 50 percent cut in these well-paying, highly skilled jobs."  The statement went on to say: "This is simply a recipe for disaster."

Weber noted that the negative economic impact of the EPA's proposal is only the tip of the iceberg.  He said the nation's economic grid is close to the breaking point, according to the experts including those at the NMA who say the new rule is "a major gamble that America cannot afford to make."

The AMAC chief said that if the purpose of Washington's war on coal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is wide of the mark.  According to Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University, told Scientific American that "marginal cuts by the U.S. don't have a long-term overall big effect on the climate.  What has to happen to have a big effect on the global climate is for all the big emitters to get together and decide that they are all going to cut some substantial fraction [of emissions]." 

Reducing emissions from "just coal-powered electricity, and in just one country" won't do the trick, Oppenheimer said.

Weber concluded: "but it will have an effect on the lives of the elderly by making it more costly to heat their homes in winter and cool them in the summer and to buy necessities, including groceries.  All this, just to make a weak and ineffective political statement."

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