IBEW Statement on EPA Carbon
|New EPA regulations could mean lost jobs and disruptions to the energy grid.
Photo used under a Creative Commons License from Flickr user Mike
The IBEW is studying the lengthy rule on carbon emissions for existing facilities. We will review it with a fair but critical eye, as our concerns with the EPA’s new rule are the same as we have expressed over past agency dictates — namely that the regulations focus solely on the environmental aspect of public policy at the expense of balancing our nation’s economic and energy needs.
The President spoke eloquently over the weekend about concerns for public health and cleaner air. Like most Americans, we share those goals. It will do our nation little good however, to achieve these goals at the expense of a balanced energy portfolio capable of meeting the demands of modern society. The jobs of thousands of working men and women and the well-being of their communities are also worthy of saving.
The EPA has a track record of underestimating the impact of its rules, making faulty predictions that have cost tens of thousands of good jobs. In 2011 the IBEW and several other unions testified before the agency, predicting that 56 gigawatts of generation would be lost due to plant closings under then-proposed rules. At the time, the EPA estimated only 4.7 gigawatts would be lost. Experts now confirm that 56 gigawatts will indeed be lost by 2016. Approximately 90 percent of the plants scheduled to close were required to run during last winter’s polar vortex to prevent grid disruption. We will critically examine the new rules to determine how much additional capacity could be lost.
Despite the wishes of the President and the environmental movement, renewable energy such as wind and solar are simply not ready to replace other fuel sources in meeting the demand for electrical power and will not be for the foreseeable future. That leaves natural gas as the only viable alternative in the short term. Our nation has learned from bitter experience that relying too heavily on one energy source is not a sound policy.
We will continue to work with the President and the EPA to craft rules that are more in tune with the reality of the electrical power system and that are part of a balanced approach that moves our nation toward achieving all of its goals for the environment, the economy and our energy future.
For more information contact:
Jim Spellane: 202-728-6190