Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett’s statement concerning the EPA’s proposed regs on existing power plants
Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Bissett, Ed.D., recently offered the following testimony at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Bissett testified at the agency’s hearing on the negative impact its proposed regulations on existing power plants will have on his industry and the Bluegrass State’s economy.
My name is Bill Bissett and I am the president of the Kentucky Coal Association, an organization representing nearly 12,000 men and women employed directly in Kentucky coal mining, and approximately 36,000 more Kentuckians whose livelihoods are connected to our industry. I want to thank U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell for securing me the opportunity to speak with you after these hearings were closed more than two weeks ago.
KCA strongly opposes EPA’s proposed Clean Air Act Section 111(d) regulations because they have no legal foundation and would jeopardize the American economy without any resulting environmental benefit. More specifically, the thousands of men, women and children whose lives depend upon Kentucky coal will be placed in jeopardy as a result of a symbolic gesture that can accomplish nothing in the real world. As is well known, the Kentucky coal industry has suffered tremendous job losses during the past two years,
due in large part to the actions of President Obama and this EPA. Your current Section 111(d) proposal has the potential to convert those previous job losses into a full-fledged economic catastrophe, especially for coal mining and coal using states like Kentucky.
The legal backdrop for the current proposal reflects a stunning absence of respect for constitutional principles of separation of powers and for the will of the American people. The rejection by Congress of cap-and-trade legislation 5 years ago should have put an end to your attempts to comprehensively reduce greenhouse gas emissions except through the technology-based provisions of the Clean Air Act. Instead we are confronted by an attempted “end run” around Congress using legal authorities never intended for such purposes. This proposal is clearly an attempt to force a square regulatory peg into a round statutory hole, and it has little chance of surviving judicial review.
EPA should heed the warning from the U.S. Supreme Court in the U-A-R-G decision (and I will quote) “EPA’s interpretation is also unreasonable because it would bring about an enormous and transformative expansion in EPA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization. When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate a significant portion of the American economy… We typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism. We expect Congress to speak clearly if it wishes to assign to an agency decisions of vast economic and political significance.”
Although the U-A-R-G decision addressed regulation of greenhouse gas emissions under the P-S-D program, can there be any real doubt that the quoted language was intended to address the Section 111(d) proposal?
If the Section 111(d) proposal had any potential to protect public health, KCA and those it represents would have an entirely different opinion; however, it clearly has no such potential. KCA urges EPA not to destroy the lives and aspirations of so many hard-working Americans in order to provide a “feel-good” moment for an elitist minority.
To stay within my allotted five minutes, I would like to briefly address several points that need to be relayed to you.
-You need to have more hearings. It is one issue that the Sierra Club and I agree upon. You need to have more hearings where more voices can be heard, and you need to come to the coalfields and listen to the people who live there in person. It is simply unacceptable to expect people who live in the coalfields to only be able to send an email or a letter. You need to hear their voices.
-Much of the ongoing discussion of your proposal focuses on the economic harm it will cause, but we also need to be discussing the critical importance of the reliability of our electricity supply. Coal is, from all accounts, the most reliable fuel source to generate electricity on this planet. As Americans, we take for granted how reliable our electricity is – In many cases, it is literally a life giving and sustaining resource. For you to tamper with the reliability of electricity by forcing the switch to less reliable fuel sources is wrongheaded and simply dangerous.
-As you and President Obama attempt to move this country away from coal usage, the rest of the world is moving towards coal as fast as they can. China, India, Spain, Germany, and Japan are just a few examples of countries building new coal plants. We get frequent calls at the Kentucky Coal Association from buyers in other countries who want to buy our coal to meet the growing demand overseas.
You’re trying to set some kind of international example and the rest of the world is not following you. Other countries will either build their economies on coal-based electricity, like the United States did, or they will decrease their cost of electricity following a failed experiment into other forms of electricity production that have become either too costly or not in their best interest. The United States has the largest coal reserves in the world and, by using the coal that’s in the ground here in our country, we can move much closer to the energy independence that so many of us want to see in our lifetimes.
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak for so many Kentuckians who believe that what you are doing is misguided, against the will of Congress, extremely harmful to our economy, and the affordable, reliable electricity that created this country and gives us the wonderful quality of life that we enjoy. Please know that we will work diligently to stop your efforts with every legal, political and public means at our disposal.