US coal's $37.5B nightmare costs over 40,000 jobs

MORE than 40,000 coal mine and power plant jobs have been lost under US President Barack Obama’s “war on coal”, with more layoffs expected as his administration piles on tens of billions of dollars in regulatory costs, according to a new report by American Action Forum.
US coal's $37.5B nightmare costs over 40,000 jobs US coal's $37.5B nightmare costs over 40,000 jobs US coal's $37.5B nightmare costs over 40,000 jobs US coal's $37.5B nightmare costs over 40,000 jobs US coal's $37.5B nightmare costs over 40,000 jobs

 

Anthony Barich

The White House said its $US37.5 billion worth of proposals was nearly as high as the entire bill for all major rules issued from 1999 to 2009.

AAF analysis has found that an average industry loses more than 8100 jobs for every $1 billion in new regulatory costs.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more starkly illustrated, AAF says, than in fossil-fuelled power plants shed and coal mining which have more than $10 billion in added burdens from regulators since 2011 alone, with the promise of at least another $10 billion more in the immediate future.

The $37.5 billion is broken down thus: Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) $1.85 billion, Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) $10 billion, Standards for Particulate Matter: $350 million, Tier 3 Fuel Standards: $1.5 billion, proposed Clean Power Plan $8.8 billion and the latest Ozone Proposal $15 billion.

The net result of this is US coal mines shedding 3702 jobs from 2008 to 2013 and power plants 39,684 jobs, with coal mine jobs having slid even further since then from 76,100 in January 2014 to 71,300 last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has revealed.

The job losses from all these are concentrated in just a handful of areas with power plants and coal mines.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, since 2008 power plant jobs have been lost in Kentucky (644 jobs lost), West Virginia (1316), Ohio (1088), Pennsylvania (729); while coal mining jobs have been shed in Kentucky (5188) and Wyoming (195).

The AAF’s director of regulatory policy Sam Batkins said that although the headline unemployment number might appear rosy, the effect of regulations is often felt in the most burdened sectors of the economy.

“From power plants to mining, regulation can have profound implications for hundreds of thousands of individuals, from Pennsylvania to Wyoming,” Batkins said.

“Much like regulation in general, the pain of losing a job is often unseen in the broader economy, but nevertheless real.”

Republicans have said Obama’s “war on coal” has been triggered, among other things, by so many coal plants citing environmental regulations; while some major coal mines have also cited federal regulations as a major reason for closing.

“It is cold comfort for the Obama Administration to suddenly propose easing the pain they’ve helped inflict on so many Kentucky coal families, but anything aimed at aiding these communities should be seriously considered,” Kentucky Republican, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, said.

“The best way to help these Kentuckians is to prevent anti-coal efforts in the first place, which is one reason I’ve joined the Senate subcommittee charged with overseeing spending at the anti-coal EPA,” McConnell said.

The Energy Information Administration forecasts that some 60 gigawatts of coal-fired power could be shuttered by 2020. Most of these shut downs will happen by the end of this year before the EPA Mercury Air Toxics Standards go into effect.

Coal plant retirements could be accelerated even further when the EPA finalizes its carbon dioxide emissions rule for existing power plants. This rule requires states to reduce carbon emissions in the power sector 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The agency estimates an additional 46 to 49 gigawatts of coal power will be removed.

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