The Alabama Public Service Commission staff convened on Tuesday with one of our state’s utilities for their annual meeting to review the regulatory climate and the state’s plan to comply with President Obama’s ever-expanding environmental regulations.
The PSC is not usually a hotbed for political activity, but any time energy policy is being discussed there’s a chance the wacko environmentalist crowd will get involved. Such was the case Tuesday when three of Alabama’s most radical enviro groups showed up to advocate for the death of the coal industry.
At the hearing Friday were the Alabama Environmental Council (AEC), Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). Apparently, these groups wanted to know why coal plants in Alabama were not being shut down.
Regular Yellowhammer readers will recall from our article, “5 Things Obama’s Re-election means for Alabama,” coal jobs are in danger as the President green-lights more and more overreaching from the EPA.
But over-regulation isn’t enough for these groups. They want to eliminate Alabama’s entire coal industry.
The coal industry currently employs over 5,000 Alabamians. The Alabama Policy Institute also released stats earlier this year showing that coal-fired plants produce 26% of Alabama’s energy.
Newly elected PSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh spoke at length during her 2012 campaign on the importance of the coal industry to Alabama’s economy, not only because of the jobs it provides, but also because coal production helps keep Alabama’s energy costs competitive. Energy rates are a key factor in attracting new economic development projects like Airbus and Mercedes, among others.
It doesn’t take a liberal-arts-college-educated-west-coast-tree-hugger to figure out that if you crush Alabama’s coal industry, you crush Alabama’s economy.
This fight is just getting started. But I can guarantee you we will be watching closely to make sure the Republican-led PSC doesn’t back down.