Rep. Lynne Riley: EPA’s Proposed Carbon Regulations Will Harm Georgia’s Economy.

July 29, 2014 8:30 am

by Buzz Brockway · 16 comments

A guest post from Rep. Lynne Riley (R-John’s Creek) regarding the proposed new EPA regulations on carbon emissions. As she points out, Georgia still relies on coal powered plants for a third of our power generation. The proposed regulations would have a dramatic impact on our state’s ability to meet it’s power consumption needs. Discuss the pros and cons of the proposed regulation and Rep. Riley’s comments.

July 28, 2014

To: [email protected] RE: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602

As a member of the Georgia General Assembly, I support policy initiatives that provide opportunity and economic growth for the Peach State. One item that provides both of these is affordable and reliable electricity. In Georgia, we proudly endorse a diverse energy portfolio by embracing all available sources. Although we are continuously developing our renewable and alternative energy sources, our state still relies on coal for 33% of our electricity production. It is through coal that we are able to keep our electricity grids reliable and our rates affordable. EPA’s recently proposed carbon regulations, and the effective ban they place on coal-based power, are cause for great concern for the vibrant economic future of both Georgia and the United States of America.

Domestically, this rule will have several negative consequences. The effective ban on coal-based power will cause the loss of thousands of jobs, directly and indirectly. Indirect job loss is especially concerning because industries far beyond coal will be affected by the rule. Attempting to replace coal with more expensive and less abundant forms of energy will cause unavoidable increases in power costs for every business. In order to absorb higher electricity costs, businesses will be forced to reduce their workforce and increase the prices of their products, leading to an overall rise in the cost of living. The potential combination of price increases and job losses constitutes an unacceptable hardship for Georgia families. Furthermore, the availability of electricity for all consumers will also be in question, since relying on less fuel sources is a grave threat to our grid security. As energy demand continues to increase, it is reckless to reduce reliance on coal, our most abundant and affordable fuel source. Our nation needs to develop all available energy options to fuel continued economic growth.

In addition to narrowing our energy options, effectively eliminating coal from our energy portfolio will impede global competitiveness. As businesses find it more difficult to afford to operate in the United States, they will surely relocate to other countries. While domestic businesses struggle to comply with EPA requirements, businesses in other nations will offer similar products at a lower cost. American products will suffer in the global market, causing us to lose our competitive edge. With the increasingly global economy, it is imperative that all U.S. policies foster competitive business opportunity.

Overall, it is crucial that EPA considers these costs when writing the final rule. The financial hardships that our citizens would face, and diminished global competitiveness for our nations’ businesses, are both unacceptable outcomes. I entreat EPA to revise their proposed carbon standards, and develop a new approach that embraces all available forms of energy. By doing this, states will have the flexibility they need to protect the environment without sacrificing the economy. Fossil fuels, such as coal, and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive – Georgia’s energy portfolio is evidence of this fact. It is important that this approach is taken nationwide to ensure households and businesses have the electricity they need at prices they can afford.

Lynne Riley

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Huttman July 29, 2014 at 9:09 am

It sure was nice of her to submit Georgia Power’s letter for them.

Buzz Brockway July 29, 2014 at 9:31 am

And you’re free to submit a letter from Al Gore as head of the anti-internal combustion engine crowd.

David C July 29, 2014 at 9:44 am

Because EPA regulations of coal fired power plants have what to do with the internal combustion engine again?

Chris Huttman July 29, 2014 at 9:45 am

I will be glad to plagiarize Al Gore and submit it under my name if that is all it takes to admit that this “letter” is just Ga Power pro-coal propaganda. You may even put it on the front page!

Choosy Mothers Choose Jiff July 29, 2014 at 10:13 am

Al Gore? That comment is so 90’s

*eyeroll*

Spacey G July 29, 2014 at 3:13 pm

At the risk of sounding kinda like our internally combustible mayor, Kasim “If you’re going to take hostages you’d better be prepared to kill hostages” Reed, if anyone is going to encourage Huttman to write more letters they’d better darn well be prepared to actually read the letters. Take the rest of the week if you need to.

Choosy Mothers Choose Jiff July 29, 2014 at 10:21 am

As a member of the Georgia General Assembly, I support policy initiatives that provide opportunity and economic growth for the Peach State That is a fairly general statement. So you could support the return of slavery? The full legalization of all illicit drugs? Because you are not looking at the Big Picture™, sir. The economy will not fare well if we lose 2 million acres of shoreline due to rising sea levels.

If you want economic growth, you have to assume your workforce is healthy enough to work. But pollution and other byproducts of our current energy dependence is a deterrent to our current and future generations.

If you want economic growth, you will support the building of new energy plants across the state, and encourage co ops so that one less monopoly burdens us with their high costs. No one guarantees the coal industry a profit. This is a free market, you know, that thing you all crow about so often as justification for gutting regulations? Yeah, that.

Feel free to disclose exactly how much campaign support Big Coal™ and Big Energy™ has so generously gifted you. Then we can talk about something I call bias.

Will Durant July 29, 2014 at 7:21 pm

The railroads have a vested interest in the utilities not converting to natural gas as well. Can’t find current numbers but in 2006 coal accounted for 42% of US railroad freight tonnage.

Posner July 29, 2014 at 10:29 am

Oh come on. At least TRY to be accurate.

“the effective ban they place on coal-based power” – an excellent straw man. It’s blatantly false–the proposed regulation does nothing of the sort. The proposed regulation places a limit (individualized by state) on the amount of carbon pollution from large industrial sources (including, but not exclusively, power plants). The regulation leaves it ENTIRELY up to the states how to achieve that goal.

“our state still relies on coal for 33% of our electricity production” – Good statistic. Estimates of the power generation portfolio under the new proposed regulation project that coal will still make up 30% of that portfolio EVEN UNDER THE NEW RULE. In other words, Georgia would effectively have to reduce coal generation by 3%. Or, because the rule is entirely flexible, Georgia could increase energy efficiency by 3% and leave the coal generation exactly where it is.

“it is reckless to reduce reliance on coal, our most abundant and affordable fuel source” – In fact, the biggest threat to coal in the U.S. is natural gas, which is both “more abundant” and “affordable” than coal. Not incidentally, this is causing a massive increase in the amount of coal the U.S. is exporting (See, e.g., http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303563304579447582374789164). There is a reason almost nobody is building new coal plants–it’s cheaper to build (and run) natural gas plants.

Further, you are fortunate enough to live underneath Georgia Power, who is actively diversifying their energy portfolio. Not sure if you’ve heard, but they are opening two new nuclear reactors (or, as you would say “relying on less [sic] fuel sources i[n] a grave threat to our grid security”). Luckily, these two new reactors are scheduled to come online almost exactly when the new EPA regulations are scheduled to kick in.

“I entreat EPA to revise their proposed carbon standards, and develop a new approach that embraces all available forms of energy” – Really? I mean, did you put zero thought into this? Pray tell, what “new approach” will embrace “all available forms of energy” better than the current approach, which is entirely agnostic to the forms of energy used.

Next time, lets try to use facts to make our argument. It’s much more persuasive.

zedsmith July 29, 2014 at 11:12 am

I wonder how many coal-burning power plants there are in John’s Creek.

benevolus July 29, 2014 at 11:47 am

Maybe with all that extra money we get from “economic growth” we can pay for the extra hospital visits, heart attacks, bronchitis, asthma, and lost work days.

Instead of being so focused on making Georgia good for business, I wish the focus was more about being for the citizens. Good for business is part of that but not the beginning and end.

Dave Bearse July 29, 2014 at 10:37 pm

No doubt consumers will continue to pre-pay for construction of Plant Vogtle because completion of construction has been delayed, while industry continues its free ride.

Industry got the tax free electricity it wanted.

Why not take the savings in interest due to pre-payment, and give that to industry too? We’re number one for business, and near the bottom of the barrel by most measures of quality of life.

George Chidi July 29, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Rep. Riley is one of Nathan Deal’s floor leaders. It’s not that Georgia Power handed her a letter and asked her to put her name on it. They handed it to Deal’s policy folks, who handed it to Riley, who published it.

Or, perhaps more delicately, she attended an ALEC-sponsored conference after which she said she would be available to take dictation. At least the language appears to be more-or-less original.

Do we need to even say that it’s also full of error?

Dave Bearse July 29, 2014 at 10:31 pm

There’s a history of industry complaining about the cost of energy-related regulations that turn out to be a crock. Anyone notice the recent significant motor vehicle price increase when new fleet mileage regulations were made effective a few years ago? Neither did I.

“Although we are continuously developing our renewable and alternative energy sources, our state still relies on coal for 33% of our electricity production. It is through coal that we are able to keep our electricity grids reliable and our rates affordable.”

Sorry, Lynne, given that the state relied on coal for over 60% of its energy production only a few years ago, rates should have already increased significantly.

saltycracker July 30, 2014 at 7:57 am

Is the EPA reg talked about here have any connection to the billions Goldman Sachs and friends have put into getting ready for trading carbon credits ? This might be more about mining U.S. $$$ than clean coal, for a good cause of course. China, India and developing nations will be grateful, as will the financial oligarchs.

Harry July 30, 2014 at 9:07 am

The sun and wind are not as cheap as people have been led to believe
http://www.businessinsider.com/free-exchange-sun-wind-and-drain-2014-7