HARRISBURG — Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Gleason released the following statement admonishing Kathleen Kane for not joining a lawsuit to challenge President Obama’s disastrous new EPA regulations that would effectively kill Pennsylvania’s coal industry:
“Kathleen Kane has abandoned Pennsylvania coal and has abandoned Pennsylvania jobs. Coal has been a longstanding staple of Pennsylvania’s enormous energy industry, which sustains hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania jobs, and it’s a shame that Kathleen Kane appears willing to kill those jobs to play politics with President Obama.
“Kane’s war on coal is just another front on the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s coordinated attack on Pennsylvania energy. It’s alarming that dismantling a job creating industry is no longer a fringe, extreme idea; elected officials like Jim Ferlo, Allyson Schwartz, President Obama and now Kathleen Kane have put these extreme ideas into action. I once again call on the Pennsylvania Democratic Party to stop this war on coal, natural gas and Pennsylvania jobs.”
AG Kane forgoes challenge to Obama’s EPA coal plant regulations
Attorneys general from more than a dozen states are threatening to bring a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency because of new rules they say will harm the coal industry.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is notably absent from that list.
The regulations announced last week would require coal-fired power plants to use more expensive technology to reduce emissions. Opponents of the new rules say they will result in the end of affordable electricity from coal and will cost potentially thousands of jobs.
In a letter to the head of the EPA, attorneys general from 17 states said the new regulations overstepped federal authority under the Clean Air Act.
Despite Pennsylvania’s long history as a coal-producing state — more than 41,000 jobs in the Keystone State are tied to the industry and 40 percent of the electricity used in the state comes from coal, according to trade groups — Kane, a Democrat, hasn’t signed onto the lawsuit.
(Boehm, Eric. AG Kane forgoes challenge to new EPA coal plant regulations. PA Independent. September 23, 2013.)
Obama regulations hit hardest in coal country
Republican Congressman Tom Marino and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers have formed a “Coal Caucus” to oppose new strict federal emissions limits on coal plants in Pennsylvania and other states.
Marino, who represents the 10th congressional district in northeast Pennsylvania, said President Obama is waging a war on coal that’s creating economic hardship in coal-producing states.
“The Obama Administration’s proposed rule to cap carbon emissions from new power plants is just another line of attack to make certain energy sources — sources like coal and fossil fuels — so expensive that the producers themselves go bankrupt,” said Marino.
More than a dozen state lawmakers from both major political parties joined the congressman in railing against the new federal regulations, with Republicans blaming Democrats and Democrats focusing their concern on Washington.
Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming County, was named chairman of the Coal Caucus. Along with Obama, he added Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat, to the list of villains.
Yaw said 12 attorneys general from other states signed a letter arguing that the new EPA carbon dioxide air quality standards overstepped the agency’s authority. “By doing nothing,” he said, “the attorney general in Pennsylvania has made Pennsylvania an unwitting participant in the war on coal.”
Joe Peters, a spokesman for Kane, said she had not been approached by other attorneys general about a position paper on the EPA rule. But, Peters added, Kane is now monitoring the situation.
More than 40,000 people work in the coal industry in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance.
Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America, said tougher clean air standards approved during President George H. W. Bush’s administration during the early 1990s resulted in the loss of 20,000 to 25,000 jobs in two years.
Smith said China and other emerging industrial nations are expanding their use of coal at a time the United States is restricting fossil fuels to generate electricity, causing the export of jobs.
“We’re leading with our chin instead of our brain,” said Smith. “The fact is, people around the world don’t view coal as the fuel of the past; they are accelerating their use.”
Democratic state lawmakers who joined the Coal Caucus freely criticized the EPA’s new rules capping the amount of carbon dioxide coal-burning power plants can emit, but shied away from taking aim at Kane.
“I can’t speak for the attorney general,” said Sen. John Wozniak, D-Cambria County.
Wozniak said the EPA needs to soften its position, calling the rules, “unnecessarily harsh.”
Earlier this summer, FirstEnergy Corp. announced plans to shut down two coal plants in Fayette and Washington counties because of the cost of adding pollution controls to meet the federal standards. The plants generate enough energy to power tens of thousands of homes and business, and employ 380 people.
Pennsylvania has 39 coal-fired power plants. They produce 55 percent of the state’s energy needs, state officials said. Utility companies are replacing coal with natural gas plants, which now produce only 5 percent of the state’s energy, as they adjust to new clear air standards.
Natural gases gains are particularly strong in the area in and around the Marcellus shale region in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Two coal-fired power plants — in Shamokin Dam in Snyder County and in New Castle — are in the process of converting from coal to natural gas power, government records show. A third, in Monaca in Beaver County has announced plans to add natural gas power without completely abandoning coal, state records show.
In addition, the Department of Environmental Protection has received air quality plans for seven new natural gas plants. Four other natural gas power plant projects have been announced, but company officials have not submitted required paperwork yet, according to the records.
The Sunbury Generation facility in Shamokin Dam is one of the oldest coal-fired plants in the country. The company that owns it is working to convert the plant to natural gas by 2015. That means the plant will continue to operate, albeit with fewer workers.
Federal environmental studies have identified fossil-fuel power plants as the leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the country, with coal producing more carbon dioxide than any other fuel.
EPA officials contend the only way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide spewing into the air.
(Finnerty, John. Regs hit hardest in coal country. Sharon Herald. September 29, 2013.)