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Coal industry attorney says EPA “much more aggressive than we can justify”


Peter S. Glaser


America is not in an environmental crisis and the Environmental Protection Agency is over-stepping its bounds with its War on Coal.

Washington D.C.-based attorney Peter S. Glaser told participants in this week’s Associated Industries of Missouri Manufacturing and Mining webinar that the EPA is driven by a false view of the environment in the U.S.

“The EPA has created this vision of a country in the United States where the environment is deteriorating, whereas just the opposite is the truth,” said Glaser. “The air is much cleaner than it used to be, the water is much cleaner than it used to be.”

Instead of designing overly aggressive regulations that will result in the death of coal fired electricity generation, the industry and the EPA should be working together on common goals to further improve the efficiency of current energy production methods.

“In the end, we should be arguing over the slope of the line that goes down in terms of our air emissions,” said Glaser. “We all agree that air emissions should continue to go down, but the EPA just really wants to do something much, much more aggressive than we can justify.”

Glaser spoke to the AIM group in the hours before Monday’s EPA listening post in the Kansas City area on emissions from existing power plants. The EPA is scheduled to publish those new rules in June, and most experts expect them to be designed to drive the use of coal down, and energy prices up.

The new rules would be on top of already-proposed rules on emissions from new coal generating plants that Glaser says will result in electricity rates rising by as much as 80 percent as the industry struggles to incorporate unproven and as yet unknown technologies to trap coal emissions into the design of the new plants.

“This new rule will be so aggressive that I think there’s an excellent chance it will be overturned (by the courts)”, said Glaser.

There’s also light at the end of the tunnel for the regulations on the existing plants. The new rule is not set to publish until June, giving states time to affect them. Once the rule is published, the EPA must call upon states to submit plans that contain their own standards for the reduction of emissions.

“That gives states like Missouri a greater opportunity ultimately to impact what the standards are,” said Glaser. “EPA believes it has the authority to tell states to submit plans, but beyond that, tell (the states) what those plans have to say. That’s not the way that’s supposed to work.”

Glaser urges AIM and its members to work with the Department of Natural Resources to push back against EPA when it comes to how much say the federal agency will have in green house gas emission reduction in Missouri.

Glaser says the last three years of the Obama administration will be particularly difficult on the nation’s energy companies, because he says Obama’s EPA will not stop at coal emissions. Next up will be natural gas, and so-on down the line.

But Glaser maintains the administration is being myopic on the results of aggressive rule-making on energy producers. An over-aggressive EPA will damage the economy and hurt all residential power customers.

“Rates will become a regressive tax that hurts not only businesses, but people who live on fixed incomes, and lower income people who don’t have the ability to afford another $20 or $30 a month, or whatever it turns out to be in higher costs,” said Glaser.

“In the economy that we have, I think it’s the responsibility of every government agency to be just super-aware of the impacts of all of their regulations on economic growth,” said Glaser. “And to say that we can dramatically reduce the supply of the type of energy that we use without impacting the nation’s economic growth, I think that is very naïve.”

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