There is a better pathway

Op-ed by NMA Pesident & CEO Hal Quinn in USA Today on EPA's new greenhouse gas regulations.

Read the op-ed on the USA Today site here.

EPA's new greenhouse gas regulations are overzealous.

Like Americans everywhere, I envision a stronger economy and quality of life for our children and grandchildren. But contrary to the Environmental Protection Agency's extreme approach unveiled Monday, we believe there is a better pathway that moves us toward our environmental goals without raising electricity costs, eliminating thousands of jobs and jeopardizing the reliability of the electric grid.

The EPA's new, overzealous greenhouse gas regulations will force the closure of many of the existing coal-based power plants that currently generate 40% of the nation's electricity — at the very time that advanced technologies are making America's fleet of coal-generation plants cleaner and more efficient.

Since 2005, CO2 emissions from coal-based power plants have been reduced by 24%, and the power plants built with today's new technologies emit 90% fewer traditional pollutants than the plants they replace from 30 years ago.

States that rely on coal for 50% or more of their electricity generation enjoy 30% lower electricity costs, and thus also tend to be home to the nation's strongest manufacturing base. These states will be at the losing end of what is essentially a cap-and-trade system that EPA is proposing.

The model EPA touts is California, where electricity costs are 45% higher than the national average. And the "flexibility" EPA claims that states will have is actually a range of limited options within a narrow box dictated by the agency's looming targets. Also on the losing end are middle-class and lower-income Americans and retirees on fixed incomes who will bear the brunt of the cost increases that will result from putting the country on a restricted energy budget.

These regulations also endanger the reliability of the electric grid. As we saw this past winter, our nation's grid barely withstood a major surge in demand, which was satisfied in large part by the very coal plants EPA is targeting for closure.

America needs balanced policies that encourage a diverse mix of energy sources, including coal, so our nation can grow with low–cost, reliable electricity.

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“There isn’t any place in the world that can do a better job of producing products safely, with environmental protection, as cost-effectively as here in the U.S. But you need a regulatory environment that encourages that.  We have just the opposite. We have a regulatory environment that forces us to spend years and millions and millions of dollars to get the permits necessary to do the work, even at existing operations.”

Hecla CEO and NMA Board Member Phil Baker in an Oct. 17 Coeur D’Alene article on the dangers of permitting delays to domestic manufacturing.