EPA initiatives’ impact on GDP, power rates critical

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Obama’s climate change initiatives have tended to focus on the devastation they already are wreaking to the beleaguered coal industry. That may well play right into the president’s hands, politically.

It is comparatively difficult to gain much support in Congress, not to mention the nation as a whole, for defending a few states that rely on mining, after all. How many Californians care about what happens to West Virginia? How many Massachusetts residents worry much about East Ohio or Kentucky?

Much of the focus on a new report regarding the White House campaign seems to have been on the coal industry. One nationally distributed news story referred to the Energy Information Administration study as showing Obama’s plan “could further weaken an already battered coal industry.”

Much more attention should be given to the report’s other conclusions, however. One is that if the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to restrict coal-fired power plants proceed, electricity generation by that method could drop by 90 gigawatts. In addition, electricity prices would go up by an average of 7 percent within the next decade, according to the EIA.

As recently as April, Obama administration officials insisted the EPA plan would result in loss of only about half the generating capacity cited by the EIA. That should raise concerns about the electric grid’s reliability.

And consider the EIA’s terminology on what the EPA campaign will mean to Americans’ electric bills: An average increase of 7 percent will translate to much more than that for residents of states such as West Virginia and Ohio, where coal-fired power plants provide most electricity. Reasonable analyses in the past have forecast some household electric bills could go up by as much as $1,000 a year.

Finally, the EIA report predicts that the EPA anti-coal initiatives could cause gross domestic production to fall by as much as 0.25 percent by 2040.

Even at the current GDP, that would translate to a loss of about $42 billion a year for the U.S. economy.

We in the so-called coal states have an enormous stake in Obama’s war against mining. But it is what that campaign, if allowed to continue, will mean for tens of millions of other Americans that should be stirring members of Congress to stop the president. If they do not take such action soon, it will be too late to protect their constituents.

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