On Thursday the EPA will question Janet McCabe, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. The hearing will seek to sort out several questions regarding Obama’s recent proposal on power plants, specifically coal. The rules set out to curb emissions, but its indirect harm will not only shut down coal plants but cut thousands of jobs. The EPA itself has said that;
The rules could cost close to 80,000 jobs by 2030 at power plants and fossil fuel companies, but could create about 111,000 jobs in energy efficiency.
To make the assumption that jobs will be picked up through renewable energy is not only unfair but wrong. The ability to operate a coal plant versus say, a wind farm is very different. The workers who are in the coal plants will not be able to find new and comparable jobs to what they already have. These policies come at a time when natural gas prices and coal use are at an all-time low.
It is also interesting to point out that the market is naturally selecting natural gas in favor of coal for production. In fact, as seen by the graph, as natural gas has risen in recent years coal has been dropping off. This has allowed the market to gradually adjust, as well as allow states to use what is best for them. While the proposal details letting the states determine what is fit for them, some states are better off continuing to use coal. There are states like North Dakota where 80 percent of their electricity comes from coal. This will surely guarantee an increase in the price of electricity for the state, as well as a large job loss.
None of this is even necessary as since 2006 the U.S. share of energy production has been steadily shifting. In 2006, a staggering 49 percent of energy in the U.S. came from coal. At the time it was the cheapest energy source available, at least until now. Advancements in natural gas production and renewable energies such as solar and wind have come a long way in 6 years. In just 6 years the energy production from coal dropped 12 percent. If that much can happen in 6 years, trends can predict that similar drops will happen.
However, The EPA and President Obama want to force the markets hand, and introduce large market fluctuations that will only make life harder on Americans. The questioning of the Assistant Administrator will no doubt be harsh and rough but it needs to be. This administration must learn that the best involvement is no involvement.