From the Cambridge Daily Jeffersonian
By Judie Perkowski
A famous quote by New York Yankees great Yogi Berra, "It ain't over 'til it's over," could be the motivating axiom for a group of legislators fighting for the survival of the coal industry in Ohio.
Congressman Bill Johnson (R-6th Cong. District) was among six legislators who were honored with the "Saving the American Dream" award for their distinguished service, presented to the group by Zane Daniels, president of the Ohio Coal Association. The presentation was held at Johnson's office in Cambridge Wednesday afternoon.
"Unfortunately, due to overly stringent, and often un-achievable regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio's coal industry is in a state of uncertainty, and coal plants across the country are starting to disappear, not withstanding the billions of dollars spent on clean coal technology," said Daniels. "But, today we are here to say 'thank you' to a few elected officials who have proven to be tireless advocates for Ohio's coal industry and affordable electricity. Thank you, not only on behalf of the coal producers, but also for the people who work for the coal industry and their families."
In addition to Johnson, Cong. Steve Stivers (R-15th Cong. District), Sen. Troy Balderson (R-20th Dist.), Rep. Brian Hill (R-97th Ohio House Dist.), Rep Andy Thompson (R-95th Ohio House Dist.), and Rep. Mike Dovilla (R-7th House Dist.) each received official recognition for their efforts on behalf of Ohio coal and Ohio jobs.
"The coal industry has fueled our nation's energy needs for more than a century ... We have enough coal to last for many future generations. There is no more affordable or reliable energy source than coal," said Johnson, a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce in Washington, D.C. "Obama instructed the EPA to develop regulations for newly built and existing power plants. These mandates are cost prohibitive, which could result in the closing of more coal-powered plants."
Sen. Balderson, vice chair of the Ohio Senate Agriculture Committee and chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he appreciates the award and said, "coal has been an integral part of Ohio's economy for more than 150 years, providing jobs and affordable electricity. We will continue our fight against unreasonable and unattainable regulations by the Obama administration and the EPA."
Comments by Rep. Thompson reiterated Balderson's statement, "coal has been the backbone of this area for generations. Regulations endorsed by the Obama administration are hampering the production of coal because of unrealistic regulations for coal-fired plants, that no one can afford. We need coal to be competitive."
Reps. Hill and Dovilla said they also appreciate the award, but that their pursuit of "fair and equitable" regulations over a reasonable time period, that would benefit all energy sources will continue ... for as long as it takes.
Doug Matheney, state coordinator for Ohio Count on Coal, "a campaign to make America aware of the benefits of affordable, reliable coal-generated electricity," said his organization is trying to preserve the coal community as it is today. "The loss of coal production is not only about the jobs, it also places a distinct burden on all industries that rely on coal for their electricity needs."
After reading the Moyer & Company website, don't write the coal industry's obituary just yet. Although natural gas production has dramatically increased, coal production for exporting overseas has reached an all-time high.
And, according to the "rulemaking process," before any new law or policy can go into effect, especially with a situation as complex and contentious as regulating existing power plants, that process can take years to complete.
The Obama/EPA regulations in question are: New Source Performance Standards for greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-fired power plants. Existing plants do not have to comply right away under the rule, but the EPA fixes that with MATS. The second mandate, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), mandates a reduction in mercury and other emissions from power plants. The EPA estimates the cost of the regulation to be about $10 billion a year. The combination of the two regulations could mean no coal plants, period.
In 2012, the United States generated about 4,054 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. About 68% of the electricity generated was from fossil fuel (coal, natural gas, and petroleum), with 37% attributed from coal.
Energy sources and percent share of total electricity generation in 2012 were:
Natural Gas 30%
Other Renewable 5%
Other Gases 1%