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Somebody’s gotta pay for the EPA, might as well be you

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Bluegrass Beacon column by Jim Waters

If Washington’s environmental zealots have their way, individual Kentuckians will find out via soaring electric bills and unemployment rates: What happens in D.C. absolutely does not stay in D.C.

It’s no coincidence that as the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory mountain grows, coal production in the Appalachian region – including eastern Kentucky – diminishes. Mines close and permits to open new mines – along with the new jobs and economic opportunity that would be created – are held hostage by ideological environmental fanatics, most of whom probably don’t even know how to put a miner’s hat on their largely empty heads.

Groups like Beyond Coal celebrate that 110 out of 522 Appalachian coal-fired power plants have closed. These radical left-wing zealots actually cheer the hardship that results, including that these plant shutdowns equate to a loss of 13 percent of all coal-based electric capacity in the nation.

These extremists are being aided and abetted by the Obama administration, which previously pointed to now-shuttered solar panel manufacturer Solyndra as a “true engine of economic growth” while vowing to destroy Appalachia’s coal industry.

Solyndra, an unproven industry, got a half-billion dollars from taxpayers and failed. The only thing coal miners – who have been proving their productivity for decades – receive from this administration is a slap in the face in the form of a declaration of war on their entire way of life.

This war is being waged with regulations like the EPA’s Utility MACT and coal-ash rules, which the agency itself estimates will place an additional $31 billion annual burden on the economy.

Keep in mind that neither coal companies nor the EPA will bear that cost. Consumers – even the ones who don’t live in coal country and normally overlook this issue – will pay the price for Washington’s regulatory fervor.

A new report by the American Legislative Exchange Council  finds  the sweeping new EPA rules are set to hit Kentucky and our adjoining neighbors harder than any other region in the nation.

The study estimates Kentucky will lose more than 12,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion in industry revenue. That’s the ninth-most harm to a state’s economy in the nation as a result of the EPA’s onslaught.

The Bluegrass State is not alone in suffering the wrath of Washington’s do-gooders. ALEC reports that five of the commonwealth’s seven neighboring states would be among the 10 most negatively impacted by the “EPA regulatory train wreck,” including Illinois, West Virginia and Ohio – whose economies would be the first, second and third-most harmed, respectively.

But collateral damages of overheated EPA regulations do not end there.

Fox News Online recently reported that PJM Interconnection – a company operating the electric transmission system for many parts of Appalachia — determined the 2015 market-clearing price of $136 per megawatt of capacity will be “eight times higher than the price for 2012.”

Since capacity prices comprise only a portion of your electric bill, your rates thankfully won’t go up by 700 percent three years from now.

But, ALEC reports, they will go up – by more than 13 percent, which, as mentioned earlier, is the same amount of power capacity lost by the closure of Appalachian coal mines.

A Washington Examiner editorial summed up these developments by saying: “Ordinary working people will pay the price for (the Obama administration’s) attempt to placate an ideological base consumed by hatred of coal and fear that global warming will soon send tidal waves through the streets of New York City.”

The EPA knows: Someone’s gotta pay, might as well be you.

 Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com.