EPA’s coal chill will be felt worldwide

Jim Waters

October 14, 2013

Now that the federal Environmental Protection Agency wolf has plundered the small community of Louisa in far-eastern Kentucky – the “Gem of the Big Sandy” as it is known – by shutting down its coal-fired power plant, it’s about to show up at your door, and the doors of manufacturers statewide.

Developments surrounding the Big Sandy Power Plant’s shutdown isn’t just about the shuttering of an aging coal-fired power plant or the loss of good jobs and a whole town falling into federal EPA-created regulatory quicksand.

It’s about where all Kentuckians’ future power is going to come from, and what it’s going to cost.

It’s also about how manufacturers will find affordable energy to continue their operations.

It’s not only about the closing of the Big Sandy facility, but whether there will even be any new plants built.

If the Obama administration has its way, not only will there never be another new coal-fired plant built on the globe, but the entire world community will cower at its bullying tactics and quite using coal altogether.

Not only will this impact demand for Kentucky’s coal, but “it also means people in other countries won’t have access to affordable electricity; they won’t have a quality life and won’t even live as long,” said Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association.

“What we are seeing is the culmination of his plan to impact usage of coal domestically and internationally,” Bissett said. “That’s what’s chilling. It’s one thing to stop the mining of coal – which this administration aspired to during its first term. It’s quite another to remove us from the marketplace altogether in order to advance his second-term strategy of favoring unproven renewable sources of energy over coal, which is much more stable and proven.”

Such attacks on entire industries will have severe consequences, beginning here at home.

The wolf won’t only stop at the doors of the 173,000 ratepayers in 20 eastern Kentucky counties who faced a choice between a 26-percent increase in their electric bills if the Big Sandy spent the $1 billion needed to comply with the EPA’s emissions regulations versus the 14-percent hike they now face since the company spent half that amount to purchase a 50-percent interest in a power plant near Moundsville, W. Va.

Residents and manufacturers from Ashland to Paducah also can hear this wolf’s growl.

A report last year by Kentucky’s own Energy and Environment Cabinet warns us to brace for a 25-percent increase in the real price of electricity by 2025.

The report predicts that such electric-rate increases will cause manufacturers, who tend to use huge amounts of energy and thus are most susceptible to costs and dwindling supply, to “permanently shed 17,500 full-time jobs.”

The same report indicated that the other largest employment sectors in Kentucky, including retail stores, restaurants and hotels, “can be expected to fail to create 12,500 full-time jobs.”

That’s a total of 30,000 jobs, and that doesn’t even include thousands of new jobs that will never be created.

So, as the state agency’s own report indicates that future rising electricity rates due to EPA plundering will not only force double-digit increases in the electric bills of eastern Kentuckians, who previously had about the only good jobs available in a swamp of poverty and can now least afford such spikes, it will affect individuals and manufacturers statewide.

It states: “Kentucky’s low electricity prices have fostered the single-most electricity-intensive manufacturing economy in the United States, a manufacturing economy that is now threatened by future electricity price increases.”

Many struggling manufacturers and individuals face the chilling prospect of a cold winter – many cold winters, actually – with the wolf camped out at their doors.

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at Read previously published columns at