Andy Wong, File, Associated Press
In this Dec. 3, 2009 file photo, smoke billows from a chimney of the cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant in Dadong, Shanxi province, China. The International Energy Agency says the world's energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 percent in 2012 to a record high of 31.6 gigatons, even as the U.S. posted its lowest emissions since the mid-1990s.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced planned regulations for a 30 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 2030. The plan, unveiled Monday morning, will have a particularly serious effect on states that rely on coal and has been met with controversy.
Monday’s announcement was what environmentalists had been waiting for, according to Jason Mark of the Daily Beast. While it will not take effect for at least another two years, the carbon dioxide emission cut “will likely mark the most significant environmental achievement of Obama’s presidency,” wrote Mark. “With this announcement of new power plant rules, the president earns high marks.”
For others, cutting carbon emissions is not worth the cost.
"This new regulation threatens our economy and does so with an apparent disregard for the livelihoods of our coal miners and thousands of families throughout West Virginia," West Virginia Rep. Nick J. Rahall told USA Today. Rahall, a Democrat, went on to tell USA Today that he feels strongly enough about the issue to work with his GOP counterpart Rep. David McKinley to counter the new regulations.
States that rely heavily on coal such as West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and others will likely have a disproportionate amount of work to do in order to reach these new standards, according to USA Today.
“Once again, the Obama Administration is advancing its anti-coal agenda without regard for the impact on the U.S. economy or American workers,” Indiana’s Gov. Mike Pence wrote in an official statement.
“As a state that relies heavily on coal-burning power plants, these proposed regulations will be devastating for Hoosier workers and families. They will cost us in higher electricity rates, in lost jobs, and in lost business growth due to a lack of affordable, reliable electricity.”
The Bloomberg View’s Tom Zeller Jr. believes the opposite, stating that while it is likely that some jobs will be lost, “those losses will almost certainly be offset by the creation of new jobs elsewhere, as the new regulations drive investment in cleaner technologies, efficiency upgrades and other areas,” he wrote. Additionally, “sure, coal tends to be the most severely affected resource because it has the highest profile. But to the extent that jobs are being shed in coal country, the EPA's actions are hardly the key culprit.”
Natural gas and surface mining, which are both cheaper and require less manpower than coal, are two of the real reasons that coal is struggling, said Zeller. Therefore, according to Zeller, the “war on coal” that some politicians will mention isn’t real.
Bethan Owen is a writer for the Deseret News Moneywise and Opinion sections. Twitter: BethanO2