Biden Launches Yet Another Assault In His War On Affordable Energy

Sweeping New War On Coal Regulations Announced Today By President Biden’s EPA Will Shutter Power Plants, Drive Up The Cost Of Electricity, And Further Reduce The Electric Grid’s Reliability, All While Relying On Technology And Infrastructure That Don’t Exist Yet And Could Once Again Run Afoul Of The Law


SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “By outsourcing his energy policy to the radical left, President Biden is outsourcing away America’s energy security and independence. Today, the EPA resurrected the devastating climate regulations that liberals have spent more than a decade trying to drop on folks in Kentucky, West Virginia, and the rest of coal country. By imposing unworkable deadlines and unproven technologies not commercially available, this latest version of Democrats’ so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ poses an existential threat to providers of affordable and reliable American energy. Complying with Washington bureaucrats’ latest wishes requires technology that producers cannot access, costs that they cannot swallow, and pain that lower-income ratepayers cannot stomach. This sequel to a failed Obama-era policy is also the revival of an illegal power grab the judiciary slapped down less than a year ago. The Supreme Court made it clear last April that Congress did not authorize this sort of draconian policy. Then, Democrats tried to give the Administration this sweeping authority as part of their reckless taxing and spending spree, but the provision violated Senate rules and never became law. So now the Biden Administration is trying to ram through the policy unilaterally. The far left is coming back for yet another bite at the apple. The Obama-Biden war on coal has come in many different forms, but the same basic disdain for Middle America keeps showing its face. Democrats’ obsession with Green New Deal social engineering would further compound the pain their historic inflation has already caused. Their agenda is a recipe for soaring energy prices, electricity blackouts, and less national security. Working Americans cannot afford this — and Kentuckians and West Virginians least of all.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 5/11/2023)

SENATE ENVIRONMENT & PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV): “The Clean Power Plan 2.0 announced today is the Biden administration’s most blatant attempt yet to close down power plants and kill American energy jobs. The EPA has already tried this illegal overreach, which was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court, but not before it devastated communities in West Virginia and across the country. Whether it’s through policies like the Inflation Reduction Act or an onslaught of executive branch regulations like those announced today, Americans are well aware that the left continues to wage war on the energy sources that actually power this nation. At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to fill up their tanks and pay their utility bills under President Biden, it’s reprehensible that this administration would clamp down even further on domestic energy production while advancing policies meant to increase demand for electricity. I plan to introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval to protect workers and families from the disastrous impacts of these latest job-killing regulations.” (Senate EPW Committee Ranking Member, Press Release, 5/11/2023)

SENATE ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): “Last year, the Supreme Court threw out the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) overreaching mandates on power plant emissions. The Court rightfully confirmed Congress, not the EPA, has the authority to create environmental policy. Nothing has changed since then to give the unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats at the EPA this authority. The EPA’s new proposed rules would kill jobs in Wyoming and raise energy costs for families across the country. We can protect the environment and unleash clean, affordable, and reliable American energy at the same time.” (Sen. Barrasso, Press Release, 5/11/2023)


The Biden Administration Is Imposing An Immense, Sweeping Regulation On Power Plants That Account For 60% Of Electricity Generation In The United States

“The Biden administration is announcing a climate rule that would require most fossil fuel power plants to slash their greenhouse gas pollution 90 percent between 2035 and 2040 — or shut down. The highly anticipated regulation being unveiled Thursday morning is just the latest step in President Joe Biden’s campaign to green the U.S. economy …” (“Biden Rule Tells Power Plants To Cut Climate Pollution By 90 Percent — Or Shut Down,” Politico, 5/11/2023)

  • “The draft power plant rule from the Environmental Protection Agency would break new ground by requiring steep pollution cuts from plants burning coal or natural gas, which together provide the lion’s share of the nation’s electricity. To justify the size of those cuts, the agency says fossil fuel plants could capture their greenhouse gas emissions before they hit the atmosphere — a long-debated technology that no power plant in the U.S. uses now. As an alternative, utilities could hasten their decisions to shut down their aging coal plants ...” (“Biden Rule Tells Power Plants To Cut Climate Pollution By 90 Percent — Or Shut Down,” Politico, 5/11/2023)

“[T]he scope of the power plant rule is immense. About 60% of the electricity generated in the U.S. last year came from burning fossil fuels at the nation’s 3,400 coal and gas-fired plants, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.” (“In Major Climate Step, EPA Proposes 1st Limits On Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Power Plants,” The Associated Press, 5/11/2023)

Of Course The Rule Will Raise The Cost Of Generating Power, Meaning Higher Electricity Bills, Which Even The EPA Admits Will Be The Result

“[T]he proposed rules would increase costs for power plant operators …” (“E.P.A. Proposes First Limits on Climate Pollution From Existing Power Plants,” The New York Times, 5/11/2023)

“The EPA’s analysis says the proposal would cause retail electricity prices to rise by about 2 percent in 2030 ... [EPA Administrator Michael] Regan called that ‘negligible’ …” (The Washington Post, 5/11/2023)

In Advance Of His Reelection Campaign, President Biden Is Rushing To Placate Green New Deal Demands From Climate Zealots To Transform American Energy And The Economy

“The agency has been issuing a raft of new rule proposals just in recent weeks as it attempts to fulfill Biden’s big climate promises before he faces reelection.” (“EPA Plan Would Impose Drastic Cuts On Power Plant Emissions By 2040,” The Washington Post, 4/22/2023)

  • “The Biden administration is under pressure to finish this work in a little more than a year, to make it harder to reverse should the president lose reelection.” (The Washington Post, 5/11/2023)

“EPA is rushing to fulfill Biden’s big climate promises before he faces reelection. Last month the agency announced the strictest restrictions ever on emissions for cars and trucks … Later this year, the agency is supposed to finish new limits on the oil and gas industry’s emissions of methane …” (The Washington Post, 5/11/2023)

  • “The newest proposal comes as EPA continues along an ambitious regulatory agenda to sharply ramp down the use of oil, natural gas and coal in vehicles and the power sector in order to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. The agency proposed the nation’s strongest-ever limits on cars and trucks’ greenhouse gas pollution [in April], with the goal of spurring a huge surge in sales of electric vehicles.” (“Biden’s Newest Big Climate Rule Will Rest On Rarely Used Technology,” Politico, 4/24/2023)


Today’s Rule Is The Latest Front In A Decade-Long War On Coal By The Obama And Biden Administrations

NPR: “A climate regulation nearly a decade in the making” (NPR, 5/11/2023)

The New Biden Rule ‘Is One Part Of EPA’s Biden-Era Clampdown On Coal’ With His EPA Administrator Promising, ‘We Will See Some Coal Retirements’

“The new, tighter limits would … push all existing coal-fired plants by 2040 to either close, shift to cleaner fuel or capture their carbon dioxide emissions at the smokestack, the [EPA] said.” (The Washington Post, 5/11/2023)

“[T]he coal industry may have the most to lose under this proposal.” (NPR, 5/11/2023)

  • “Coal remains a major industry in West Virginia and preserving coal-fired electricity is a priority for many people there.” (NPR, 5/11/2023)

“The rule is one part of EPA’s Biden-era clampdown on coal …” (“Biden Rule Tells Power Plants To Cut Climate Pollution By 90 Percent — Or Shut Down,” Politico, 5/11/2023)

“[EPA Administrator Michael] Regan, on a call with reporters, said power companies will elect to shutter some coal plants …” (“EPA Issues Plan To Clamp Down On Power Plant Carbon Emissions,” Axios, 5/11/2023)

‘It’s Truly An Onslaught Designed To Shut Down The Coal Fleet Prematurely,’ ‘Solely Based On The EPA’s Desire To End Coal Powered Generation In The United States’

“‘It’s truly an onslaught’ of government regulation ‘designed to shut down the coal fleet prematurely,’ Rich Nolan, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, said in an interview before the rule was announced.” (“In Major Climate Step, EPA Proposes 1st Limits On Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Power Plants,” The Associated Press, 5/11/2023)

NATIONAL MINING ASSOCIATION: “Each one of the rules coming from the Biden administration’s EPA is designed to make it impossible for states and utilities to make decisions based on the merits of what keeps the lights on and electricity inflation low, forcing them to make decisions solely based on the EPA’s desire to end coal powered generation in the United States. The coal fleet continues to perform an outsized role in many states and communities, providing dispatchable fuel diversity and security, and ramping up power supply during periods of surging demand when other sources of power cannot. EPA’s indifference to the repercussions of its decisions on our ability to provide reliable, affordable electricity to Americans is simply reckless especially when other federal officials are calling it a crisis.” (National Mining Association, Press Release, 5/10/2023)

REMINDER: Biden Once Pledged To Have ‘No Coal Plants Here In America’ And His Climate Envoy Echoed, ‘We Will Not Have Coal Plants’ In The U.S.

THEN-SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE): “No coal plants here in America…. We’re not supporting clean coal.” (“Biden: ‘No Coal Plants Here In America,’” Politico, 9/23/2008)

JOHN KERRY, U.S. Special Envoy For Climate: “By 2030 in the United States, we won’t have coal…. We will not have coal plants.” (“U.S. ‘Won’t Have Coal’ by 2030, John Kerry Predicts in Glasgow,” Bloomberg Government, 11/09/2021)

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION FLASHBACK: ‘A War On Coal Is Exactly What’s Needed,’ ‘We’re Going To Put A Lot Of Coal Miners … Out Of Business’

HILLARY CLINTON: “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” (“Why Putting Coal Miners Out Of Work Is A Very Bad Thing To Say In West Virginia,” The Washington Post, 5/10/2016)

THEN-SEN. BARACK OBAMA: “So if somebody wants to build a coal fired plant they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that is being emitted.” (The San Francisco Chronicle, 1/17/2008)

DANIEL P. SCHRAG, Obama White House Climate Adviser: “The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. …a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.” (The New York Times, 6/25/2013)

Obama EPA Official: “The Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish (sic) town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. And so you make examples out of people...” (Forbes, 4/26/2012)


At A Time When Demand For Electricity Is Soaring, The New EPA Rule Will Harm The Reliability Of America’s Electric Grid By Forcing More Power Plants To Shutter

Electricity Use Has Climbed 73% In The Last Four Decades While ‘Widespread Power Outages Have Surged’ In Recent Years

“Carbon emissions from the U.S. power sector are at the same level as in 1984, while electricity use has climbed 73% since then, [Edison Electric Institute President Tom] Kuhn said.” (“In Major Climate Step, EPA Proposes 1st Limits On Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Power Plants,” The Associated Press, 5/11/2023)

“[W]ith that new type of demand for electricity surging, it will put more stress on a grid that has struggled in recent years. Widespread power outages have surged, especially from snowstorms, hurricanes and wildfires. From 2017 to 2021, electricity customers nationwide spent seven hours a year without power, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, up from less than four hours a year from 2013 to 2016.” (The Washington Post, 5/11/2023)

“The Electric Power Supply Association, an industry trade group representing power suppliers, said the new rules come as rising demand, retirements of existing generating units and changing weather patterns are stressing the nation’s electric grid. ‘Aspirational policy is getting ahead of operational reality,’ said EPSA President and Chief Executive Todd Snitchler. ‘If finalized, these aggressive rules will undoubtedly drive up energy costs and lead to a substantial number of power plant retirements.’” (“Biden Administration Targets Power-Plant Emissions in New Climate Initiative,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/11/2023)

But The Biden Rule Will Force Even More Power Plant Shut Downs

“Critics also argue the regulations will force coal and gas-fired power plants to shut down and leave the grid vulnerable to blackouts.” (NPR, 5/11/2023)

“Even if courts nix the upcoming EPA rules, their mere existence could prod utilities to shutter existing natural gas power plants depending on how the agency designs the regulations, said Todd Snitchler, president of the Electric Power Supply Association, a trade group that represents power generators.” (“Biden’s Big Bet To Take On Coal Power,” Politico, 4/26/2023)

Just Last Week, Every Single FERC Commissioner Agreed That Removing Coal Generation Would Make America’s Electric Grid Unreliable

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV), Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman: “[I]n today’s world and what you all talked about, the energy and the grid system and all that, do any of you believe that it’s possible to eliminate coal today or in the near future and be able to maintain a reliable or a somewhat reliable system? Is coal intricately irreplaceable at this point in time? Chairman Phillips?”
FERC CHAIRMAN WILLIE PHILLIPS: “Senator, we’ve talked about this before, I believe in an all of the above approach. Whatever resources are needed to keep our grid reliable, we have to make sure that they are available.”

SEN. MANCHIN: “So if you pulled [coal] off [the energy grid] right now would it give you the certainty that the system would give you the reliability you needed?”
PHILLIPS: “It would not.”
MANCHIN: “Okay. Commissioner Danly?”
FERC COMMISSIONER JAMES DANLY: “Thank you. No, as things stand, coal is required. It makes up—I don’t know, just under a quarter of all the installed capacity in America and if it were—it would be impossible given the locations and the realities of the electric system to replace it.”
SEN. MANCHIN: “Commissioner Clements?”
FERC COMMISSIONER MARK CHRISTIE: “Coal is more dependable than gas. And yes, we need to keep coal generation available for the foreseeable future.” (U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Hearing, 5/04/2023)

‘It Is Just The Latest Instance Of EPA Failing To Prioritize Reliable Electricity’

NATIONAL RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION (NRECA) CEO JIM MATHESON: “This proposal will further strain America’s electric grid and undermine decades of work to reliably keep the lights on across the nation. And it is just the latest instance of EPA failing to prioritize reliable electricity as a fundamental expectation of American consumers. We’re concerned the proposal could disrupt domestic energy security, force critical always available power plants into early retirement, and make new natural gas plants exceedingly difficult to permit, site, and build.” (National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Press Release, 5/11/2023)

  • MATHESON:Nine states experienced rolling blackouts last December as the demand for electricity exceeded the available supply. Those situations will become even more frequent if EPA continues to craft rules without any apparent consideration of impacts on electric grid reliability. American families and businesses rightfully expect the lights to stay on at a price they can afford. EPA needs to recognize the impact this proposal will have on the future of reliable energy before it’s too late.” (National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Press Release, 5/11/2023)


Incredibly, The New EPA Rule Relies On Technology That Is Prohibitively Expensive And In Use Almost Nowhere, And On Infrastructure That Doesn’t Currently Exist

“President Joe Biden’s newest bid to cut the nation’s climate pollution relies on a series of big bets. The upcoming rule from the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to depend on rarely used technology for capturing power plants’ greenhouse gas pollution…. [C]arbon-capturing technology is not yet in place in any active commercial power plant in the U.S., and industry groups argue it’s not ready for wide deployment.” (“Biden’s Big Bet To Take On Coal Power,” Politico, 4/26/2023)

“[Q]uestions remain about whether the technology can be deployed quickly and affordably enough at the nation’s thousands of coal- and gas-burning plants. Carbon capture ran into hurdles and huge cost overruns when power plants tried to use it during the past two decades. And capturing CO2 from plants burning natural gas — a growing part of the electricity mix — poses higher cost challenges than many other pollution sources.” (Politico, 5/11/2023)

Only Two Power Plants In All Of North America Have Installed Carbon Capture Technologies

“Only two commercial-scale coal-fired power plants in North America have installed carbon capture technologies: Petra Nova in Texas and Boundary Dam in Saskatchewan, Canada. Both projects experienced cost overruns and performance issues that caused them to miss their targets …” (“Biden’s Big Bet To Take On Coal Power,” Politico, 4/26/2023)

  • “In fact, only one power plant in the world is using carbon capture at scale: the Boundary Dam Power Station near Estevan in Saskatchewan, Canada — just over the North Dakota border.” (Politico, 5/11/2023)
  • “In the U.S., only one power plant has ever captured carbon dioxide at scale: the W.A. Parish Generating Station near Houston, which is the site of the Petra Nova project…. Otherwise, the U.S. has more than a dozen proposed carbon capture projects at power plants — including several with a target start date before 2030 — but none have moved to construction, according to the [Global CCS Institute].” (Politico, 5/11/2023)

The Technology Is So Expensive, More Carbon Capture Projects Have Shuttered Than Are Up And Running, While The Existing Ones Have Suffered From Massive Cost Overruns

“Many other attempts in the U.S. to install carbon capture in the power sector failed in the past 15 years, dating back to a 2011 project by American Electric Power Co. in West Virginia called Mountaineer that sought to capture CO2 from a large coal plant. Other failed projects include Southern Co.’s Kemper project, the Texas Clean Energy Project and FutureGen 2.0, which envisioned a low-emissions large coal plant in Illinois.” (Politico, 5/11/2023)

  • “The Petra Nova project ran up a roughly $1 billion tab, including nearly $200 million in federal money. The Kemper project’s cost projection skyrocketed to $7.5 billion before the plant switched to natural gas without carbon capture, according to one analysis.” (Politico, 5/11/2023)

“The reason for this project graveyard is relatively simple: CCS is expensive … The challenge for carbon capture developers has been that capturing the CO2 is just the start of the costs. Then comes the expense of transporting the greenhouse gas — typically through a pipeline — to wherever it will be either stored or used. In the power sector, many utilities have cheaper options for electricity.” (Politico, 5/11/2023)

“[E]lectric utilities have complained that any policy that forces them to install carbon capture technology would be far too expensive, driving up energy costs for consumers. A 2021 report by a group of 600 global investors, including BlackRock, State Street Global Advisors and other top shareholders of U.S. investor-owned utilities, said the high costs of carbon capture ‘make it a risky and potentially expensive decarbonization strategy.’” (“E.P.A. to Propose First Controls on Greenhouse Gases From Power Plants,” The New York Times, 4/22/2023)

And Carbon Capture Requires ‘Miles Of Pipeline’ That Don’t Exist And Which Democrats And Environmental Lobbyists Have Made Incredibly Difficult To Build

“Still, a utility industry source said that even if [federal] subsidies bring the costs down, there’s no escaping the fact that there’s little existing pipeline and storage infrastructure for captured carbon in the US.” (CNN, 5/11/2023)

“Operators of many coal-fired plants would need to build miles of pipeline to transport their captured carbon dioxide to storage sites, at a time when Congress has been unable to agree on permitting changes that could speed up such projects. Republicans have also criticized EPA’s slow pace of processing applications for carbon storage wells around the U.S.” (“Biden Rule Tells Power Plants To Cut Climate Pollution By 90 Percent — Or Shut Down,” Politico, 5/11/2023)


Just Last Year, The Supreme Court Reined In The EPA’s Overreach On Regulating Power Plant Emissions And The New Rule Could Already Be On Shaky Legal Ground

“The Supreme Court has loomed over the effort. It ruled last year that the EPA during the Obama administration had exceeded its authority by building the first attempt at such regulations around a new system to push power companies to switch fuels across their fleets, and replace coal with cleaner options.” (“EPA Plan Would Impose Drastic Cuts On Power Plant Emissions By 2040,” The Washington Post, 4/22/2023)

“Less than a year after the Supreme Court settled one battle over EPA’s climate authority, the Biden administration is teeing up round two. EPA is expected to soon propose the strongest-ever restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel-fired power plants … The regulation would follow the Obama administration’s signature 2015 Clean Power Plan, which the Supreme Court ruled out of bounds 10 months ago using the ‘major questions’ doctrine, a legal theory that says Congress must explicitly authorize agencies to regulate significant issues …” (“Biden Plans New EPA Power Plant Rule. Will SCOTUS Kill It?,” E&E News, 4/24/2023)

“Jeff Holmstead, who ran EPA’s air office under George W. Bush and is now an attorney at the firm Bracewell, said the rule appears to have ‘serious legal vulnerabilities.’ He pointed to the dearth of carbon capture and storage projects operating in the U.S. ‘I don’t think it would be that hard to say, ‘look, this technology hasn’t been adequately demonstrated yet,’’ Holmstead said.” (“Biden Rule Tells Power Plants To Cut Climate Pollution By 90 Percent — Or Shut Down,” Politico, 5/11/2023)

  • “[C]arbon-capturing technology is not yet in place in any active commercial power plant in the U.S., and industry groups argue it’s not ready for wide deployment. That could make the EPA proposal especially vulnerable in the courts, because the Clean Air Act requires the agency to show that the technologies it proposes are ‘adequately demonstrated’ — not something that might work in the future.” (“Biden’s Big Bet To Take On Coal Power,” Politico, 4/26/2023)
  • “Only two commercial-scale coal-fired power plants in North America have installed carbon capture technologies … Both projects experienced cost overruns and performance issues that caused them to miss their targets … That means the technology flunks the Clean Air Act’s ‘adequately demonstrated’ test, Bracewell attorney Scott Segal argued.” (“Biden’s Big Bet To Take On Coal Power,” Politico, 4/26/2023)



Related Issues: Regulations, Energy, Green New Deal, EPA