Christopher Prandoni

Obama will go down in history as the president who killed coal. Making no attempt to hide his disdain for one of America’s most abundant, efficient energy sources, then candidate Barack Obama said that, “if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can — it’s just that it will bankrupt them.

Making good on that promise, President Obama charged Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Lisa Jackson with the task of regulating America’s coal industry out of existence. The EPA’s strategy is simple: impose punitive, costly regulations on existing coal plants and mandate unattainable emissions standards on future coal power plants.

This one-two punch has manifested itself in two bureaucratic sounding rules—the Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (U-MACT) and the proposed regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Costing an estimated $10 billion annually by 2016, the U-MACT wins the EPA’s pernicious accolade of most expensive regulation ever written for power plants. The U-MACT requires coal power plants to spend millions of dollars retrofitting their facilities or shutdown entirely. Unable to afford costly upgrades, many power plants will close their doors causing electricity prices and unemployment levels to rise.

But it gets worse, last month the EPA proposed carbon limits on new coal-fired power plants. This new rule effectively ensures that no new coal-fired power plants will ever be built in America. The EPA’s new carbon mandate requires new coal plants to accomplish the unattainable: achieve emissions parity with natural gas plants. Foolishly, President Obama is leveraging America’s newfound natural gas abundance against coal companies.

By writing this rule, the EPA has decreed that future power generation will come from natural gas-fired power plants—politics have prevented more nuclear power from coming online and wind and solar energy just don’t work. Antithetical to the free market, President Obama’s policies have further distorted America’s already convoluted electricity sector.

Christopher Prandoni

Christopher Prandoni serves as a Federal Affairs Manager of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR).