Business leaders gather for discussion on the EPA’s “Clean Power Plan”
Warren Wood of Ameren Missouri addresses the lunch and learn group on Thursday 8/22
“This is the main event. We’re having a national discussion of ‘What do we want to be when we grow up?’”
That’s how long-time Washington lobbyist Fred Palmer, the Senior Vice President of Government Relations for Peabody Energy summed up the current proposed EPA rules and regulation on carbon emissions from coal-fired power generating plants.
Palmer joined Warren Wood, Vice President of External Affairs & Communications for Ameren Missouri, in addressing more than a dozen Missouri business leaders Thursday during a “lunch and learn” event at Associated Industries of Missouri in Jefferson City.
Wood told the crowd that the compressed timeline would require the utility to build more capacity than is necessary simply due to the EPA’s requirement to build more natural gas fired generating plants and the forced retirement of coal-burning plants. Wood said if the timeline were extended by several years, the targets in the regulation would be more achievable and would make more economic sense, although costs would still increase for electricity as natural gas becomes the main source of power generation fuel.
“We have to win this argument on the merits,” Palmer said. “To win means to advance the use of the resource through the use of technology, and to stress what these policies will do to the middle class and the people of lesser means. You just can’t do that to people.”
Palmer said the EPA is currently playing an end game on carbon emissions aimed at coal and the price of electricity, citing testimony by a U.S. Department of Energy official that if the new EPA regulations are allowed to stand, the price of electricity could rise by as much as 80 percent. At that point, most manufacturing companies could not exist in Missouri, or in the United States.
Palmer also said the end game of the EPA appears to be the de-industrialization of the United States, first articulated by former Vice President Al Gore.
Fred Palmer (left) representing Peabody Coal makes a point as AIM president Ray McCarty takes notes at the AIM lunch and learn Thursday, 8/22.
“This would be the first step to turning the United States from a super power into a service economy,” said Wood. “These are critical jobs. They’re foundational to the economics of our state, our region, our country. This is the next big step to getting rid of those jobs and sending them to somebody else.”
Panel discussion moderator Ray McCarty, president of AIM says manufacturers and other business owners will have to call the attention of the state’s leaders to the consequences of sudden sharp rises in the price of electricity, because every day people by and large don’t understand the magnitude of the problem.
“There’s too much other news out there, they’re just not in tune to this,” said McCarty. “This is going to impact everybody’s utility rates…and I don’t think they know this is coming.”
McCarty suggested that the business leaders talk to their employees and let them know the possibilities that lay ahead.
Palmer sounded a warning for those gathered that action is needed now.
“There is a well-funded group out there that is pushing this agenda…that want to get into your pocketbooks,” said Palmer. “They want to sell you the high-priced spread, and to do that, they’ve got to take out (Ameren Missouri’s) power plants, and they have to get people to quit using my product.”
McCarty reiterated that as electricity costs rise, jobs would be lost, the price of all goods would rise and Missouri and America would become less competitive locations for businesses, particularly manufacturers.