Several power plants in our region are set to be closed, and several more will be rebuilt in the effort to comply with Enivoronmental Protection Agency regulations.
According to a news release, AEP is planning on closing or rebuilding three coal-fueled power plants in our region by 2014. Five total will be closed. They also plan to rebuild several plants to be fueled by natural gas.
The closings are part of AEP's plan to meet proposed requirements by the EPA. According to the release, the compliance plan AEP is putting together will cost in the range of $6 billion to $8 billion, and will affect hundreds of jobs.
Politicians in Charleston and Washington are wasting little time weighing in on the announcement.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney had this to say:
“Federal regulations are killing West Virginia jobs,” Maloney said. “Obama’s EPA will put hundreds of West Virginians out of work. Earl Ray Tomblin and other pro-Obama Democratic politicians in Charleston aren’t doing enough to fight for West Virginia jobs. Earl Ray has to decide which side he’s on. Does he stand with West Virginia, or does he stand with Obama?”
“West Virginians know where I stand. You know I’m loyal to West Virginia, not the Obama administration,” Maloney added. “As your governor, I’d fight against job-killing federal regulations, period.”
Maloney's opponent in the race, Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D), has been highly critical of the EPA recently, especially following the veto of the Spruce Mine permit in his home, Logan County. He said the following:
"Today's announcement by AEP reinforces the belief that the EPA is out of touch with the economic impact of their overreaching regulations," Gov. Tomblin said. "While the nation's economy is struggling, West Virginia recently saw a 4 percent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) due to our approach to our energy sector and the improving business climate of our State. Our work to improve our State continues, as West Virginia continues to pay down its debt, lower business taxes, explore ways to strengthen our energy sector, and rebuild our manufacturing base. We all want a clean and healthy environment. But the EPA's inflexible approach that is driving our Nation's energy policy is wrong, and it will permanently damage industries, businesses, and cause significant negative impacts on consumers and workers. It needs to stop."
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who filed a lawsuit in October against the EPA over coal mining permits as he was running for Senate, talked about some measures he's taken in Washington:
“Let me be clear, it’s decisions like the one made by AEP today that demonstrate the urgent need to rein in government agencies like the EPA, preventing them from overstepping their bounds and imposing regulations that not only cost us good American jobs, but hurt our economy. Onerous regulations issued by the EPA are the reason that 242 West Virginians will lose their jobs, and that’s simply wrong.
“It is because of out-of-control agencies like the EPA as well as the need to protect American jobs that I sponsored the REINS Act - a commonsense measure that will help protect and create jobs by reigning in needless or burdensome regulations, and that will put responsibility back where it belongs – in the hands of the people who are elected to govern and lead this great nation.”
And, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R- WV 2nd) added the following:
“This is a perfect example of the EPA implementing rules and regulations without considering the devastating impact they may have on local economies and jobs. Just this past week the EPA fired back and said the agency does run economic analysis when issuing new rules. In this instance, either the EPA did not run proper analysis or the administration knew these rules would cost jobs and increase utility costs and still went ahead anyway. Either way, this is unacceptable,” stated Capito."