CoalBlue Project Reacts to EPA’s Existing-Unit Proposal

June 2, 2014

CoalBlue Project Reacts to EPA’s Existing-Unit Proposal
Proposal Works Against Its Own Goals; Fails to Establish U.S. Leadership

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The CoalBlue Project, a nationwide coalition of Democratic leaders dedicated to a vibrant economy and a healthy environment, today issued the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule for existing power plants:

“The CoalBlue Project views EPA’s proposed regime to regulate electricity generation in the United States as flawed and imprudent, particularly as the world seeks viable ways to reduce CO2 emissions and address the carbon challenge. The EPA’s proposed rule would set the United States on a course of unilateral action – that few, if any, other nations will follow – in an attempt to address what is by all accounts a global issue that requires multilateral action. As a result, the United States is missing a genuine opportunity to lead the world in the development of realistic, lasting solutions to the carbon challenge, and needlessly burdening American citizens with higher energy costs for little to
no environmental benefit.

At a time when a diverse mix of sustainable energy resources are required to meet worldwide energy demand and advanced technology solutions are necessary to alter the course of global CO2 emissions, the United States is embarking on a misguided and ultimately ineffectual strategy that purposefully and mistakenly marginalizes coal and significantly dims the prospects for the development and deployment of sustainable coal technologies.

The effort to reduce global CO2 emissions will be won or lost not in the United States, but in the developing world. According to the International Energy Agency, 98 percent of the increase in global CO2 emissions from coal through 2035 will come from outside the United States. Shutting down coal in the United States tomorrow would do nothing to slow, stop, and reverse the increase in global CO2 emissions – the larger, underlying purpose of the EPA’s proposed regulations – if other nations do not follow our lead.

Yet, developing nations will not follow if our approach is based upon increasing basic energy costs that would work against their efforts to grow their economies and raise the standard of living of their people. The most effective and realistic path to addressing the climate challenge and successfully reducing global CO2 emissions will come through energy innovation – the development and global deployment of new technologies that make all clean, low-carbon energy cheaper, and thus have a strong, lasting impact on global emissions. It is through the development, demonstration, deployment, and export of a new generation of lower-cost, low-carbon energy technologies that the U.S. should stake its claim to global leadership.

Moreover, while raising the cost of coal and other carbon-rich fuels in the United States will reduce the domestic consumption of such fuels, higher energy costs will also lead to the loss and transfer of economic activity – and jobs – from the United States to nations with more carbon-intense economies. The perverse and counter-productive result of such “carbon leakage” will be a net increase in global CO2 emissions in such instances, undercutting the very purpose for which we will be paying an economic price at home.

For too many American workers and their families, as well as too many American businesses, the EPA’s proposal will thus be “all pain, but no gain.” For this reason, as well as its failure to show global leadership by setting forth a CO2 emissions-reduction strategy that other nations will follow, and the false sense of action and accomplishment it thus creates, the EPA’s proposal is deeply flawed.

The CoalBlue Project, and the hundreds of Democratic leaders across the country who support its mission, is dedicated to finding realistic and workable solutions to the energy, environmental, and economic challenges we face. We recognize that there is no path forward to a clean, low-carbon world that does not include clean, low-carbon coal. We are committed to working with the President, the EPA, and others to develop genuine solutions that address global climate concerns through vibrant and effective American leadership.”