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Bentley takes concerns with anti-coal EPA regulations directly to Obama

(Above: Gov. Bentley discusses a revealing conversation he had with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy)

President Obama’s executive amnesty plan and the growing threat of the so-called Islamic State in the Middle East are the two issues getting the most attention nationally, and deservedly so. But while the country is focused on those two crises, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues its march toward implementing the Obama Administration’s recently proposed environmental regulations.

The regulations will force the State of Alabama to cut power plant carbon emissions by roughly 30 percent by 2030. More than half of all electricity Alabama Power generates in the state comes from coal-fired plants, which critics say are the real target of the proposed regulations. Additionally, more than 16,000 Alabama jobs are dependent upon the coal industry, which has an estimated $1.3 billion economic impact on the state.

A study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce predicts the Obama administration’s environmental mandates will cost the United States more than 220,000 jobs over the next several years.

According to the study, the proposed regulations will have a disproportionate impact on southern states, where energy costs would jump by $6.6 billion per year over the next decade-and-a-half. The “East-South-Central” region of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky would see its GDP shrink by an estimated $2.2 billion and would lose 21,400 jobs as a result of the plan.

Alabama governor Robert Bentley has been an outspoken opponent of the proposed regulations, even going as far as to directly ask EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy “who comes up with these crazy ideas?” (see video above)

On Tuesday, Bentley led 14 other Republican governors to sign a letter to President Obama laying out their concerns with the proposed regulations.

Perhaps most notably, the governors claim that the EPA is vastly overstepping its legal bounds.

“(T)he Agency’s proposal not only exceeds the scope of federal law, but also, in some cases, directly conflicts with established state law,” the governors wrote.

In addition to that, here are the five most “urgent and vexing” issues the Republican governors have with the proposed regulations, each followed by a quote from the letter:

1. The EPA is planning to overreach its authority in the area of renewable energy.

(W)hile the Administrator acknowledged that EPA lacks the authority to require a state to adopt a renewable portfolio standard, she repeatedly dodged the question of whether EPA believes it has the authority to enforce (one) once a state submits it as part of a State Plan.

2. The EPA is overestimating states’ ability to replace coal with renewable energy resources.

Your proposal makes broad assumptions about access to renewables…without any regard for the actual availability of renewable resources or saturation points in the individual states.

3. The EPA is overestimating the natural gas infrastructure currently in place.

Your proposal entails significant fuel switching from coal to natural gas, but most retiring coal plants cannot simply be replaced by natural gas plants. Before this switch can occur, gas infrastructure, including storage facilities, must be built.

4. The EPA expects states to replace coal with nuclear power, but is not solving nuclear waste disposal issues preventing some states from building nuclear plants.

Since renewables cannot replace the baseload generation attributes of retiring coal plants, maintaining existing reactors and building new units is essential for many states to reach their assigned reduction targets. However, at least nine states have bans on new nuclear builds, which will remain in effect until the federal government, at least to some degree, resolves the waste disposal issue.

5. The EPA has not considered how the importing and exporting of energy between states will impact states’ emissions targets.

A number of states cannot meet their electricity demands without substantial imports of power…(But) the shutdown of coal plants in an exporting state could also constrain power supply in an importing state. It is evident that EPA failed to consider this “offshoring” of power requirements, and the corresponding carbon footprint, when it assigned reduction targets to the states.

Among the 14 governors who joined Bentley in signing the letter to the Obama Administration were two potential 2016 presidential contenders, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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