A recent analysis by the Great Lakes Energy Institute (GLEI) of Case Western Reserve University concluded the decline of the nation’s coal industry has been due to market forces and technology: “EPA rules have little to do with coal’s decline”, the analysis said. “Shale-gas competition has decimated coal.”
The American Coal Council has argued that GLEI’s analysis contains numerous flaws and omissions, and disagrees with GLEI’s conclusion, stating that “there is abundant evidence that coal’s decline is directly related to regulations promulgated during the two Obama terms – regulations which have significantly increased the cost of using coal for electricity generation, made it less competitive in the fuels marketplace, and resulted in the closure of a large number of coal plants. In addition to forcing the shutdown of existing coal plants through regulations such as the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), the threat of EPA’s impending regulations for CO2 has already shut out the possibility of building of new coal plants.”
“Environmental regulations have had significant impacts on coal-fired generating plants nationwide in recent years,” Stephanie Walton, a spokeswoman for Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp., said a recent piece by internet newspaper Cleveland.com. “In fact, since 2012, FirstEnergy has deactivated nine coal-fired power plants due to the compliance costs associated with the MATS Rule. Those nine plants represented approximately one quarter of the company’s coal-fired fleet and more than 3300 MW of generating capacity.”
The ACC also notes that it’s important to point out that GLEI only addressed EPA air quality rules, which are but one dimension of the regulatory policies so pointedly focused on coal.