Coal Industry Under Fire Back to Blog

Apr 30


  • Created: Mon 7th Jan 2013
  • Erin

Once again, our government, this time the judicial branch, has acted to disrupt energy production in the United States. Instead of fostering the continued supply of secure energy resources for our nation’s economic growth and health, another blow to the coal industry has been delivered. In Texas, the coal industry is a major source of our State’s energy production and usage. See the Texas Railroad Commission’s Press release this week as follows:

AUSTIN (Texas Railroad Commission Press Release) – The US Supreme Court in a 6-2 decision (Justices Thomas and Scalia dissenting) dealt another blow to the time-tested concept of using a broad portfolio of resources to generate electricity. By upholding the EPA-written Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (“CSAPR”) and overturning a lower court decision, the Supreme Court has made it increasingly difficult to burn coal to produce electricity. Coupled with proposed CO2 and other Greenhouse Gas regulations from the EPA, the Court in tandem with the EPA, have made good on President Obama’s campaign pledge to wage a “War on Coal.”

Going forward, natural gas, renewables, and nuclear energy must shoulder an even bigger load in order to ‘keep the lights on’ cheaply and reliably in Texas, and throughout America. Fortunately, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have brought us an abundance of clean burning natural gas. Texas is leading the way in recovering this incredible resource; however, irrational attempts to limit or eliminate recovery of hydrocarbons through fracking present an ongoing challenge and must be vigorously resisted.

Today in Texas we have a very balanced portfolio of resources from which we make electricity: approximately 40 percent coal, 40 percent natural gas, 10 percent nuclear and 10 percent renewables. Removing coal and restricting fracking will jeopardize electric reliability and increase costs. While Texas has done a better job than most to prepare for this day (we have more wind energy and better demand response than other states), today’s US Supreme Court decision unnecessarily limits our resource options.

Texas argues the EPA exceeded its authority under the federal Clean Air Act, and acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner, when it promulgated the CSAPR. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with the State of Texas and vacated the EPA-created CSAPR in 2012. CSAPR, which originally did not effectively include Texas, now forces 28 states, including Texas, to significantly reduce power plant emissions that models indicate may cross state lines. Texas relies extensively on electricity generated by lignite its citizen’s mine, the regulation of which resides at the Railroad Commission of Texas. The expansively written CSAPR threatens the viability of the Texas lignite mining industry, good paying jobs, and potentially stems our US leading economic growth. As a result of today’s holding, some coal-fired power plants may be forced to limit or shut down operations.

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