Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

June 12, 2011

Lost jobs: EPA rules could lead to plant closures

One must look no further than last week’s stunning announcement from American Electric Power for further proof of the out-of-control, job-killing agenda of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

AEP, the parent company of Appalachian Power, says it may have to close five power plants, including its Glen Lyn facility in Giles County, because of what it calls an “unrealistic” deadline by the EPA to comply with strict new air pollution standards.

AEP is correct. The new EPA regulations are unrealistic. As currently proposed, regulations being considered by the EPA to limit emissions of mercury, lead and other toxins from coal-fired plants would take effect in 3 1/2 years. In order to meet the rules in time, AEP said it would have to close plants in Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia by the end of 2014 and retire generating units at plants in five states as soon as by the end of 2012, the Associated Press reported last week.

Locally, if the Glen Lyn plant in Giles County is closed, 44 jobs will be lost in the region.

Lawmakers were quick to blast the EPA following the news of the pending plant closures.

U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., who represents Giles County in Virginia’s Ninth Congressional District, said the EPA is out of touch with the economic impact of its overreaching regulations. Those actions, according to Griffith, are killing jobs and threatening the economy of Southwest Virginia, and the nation as a whole.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said it is time for lawmakers to unite in reining in the EPA and other bureaucratic agencies that are out of control. Manchin joined U.S. Sen. Paul Rand, R-Ky., in co-sponsoring the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2011, also known as the REINS Act. The proposed legislation would require congressional approval of any interim or final regulation from the executive branch bureaucracy that costs more than $100 million.

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is demanding that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson produce documentation that the cumulative economic impact and jobs were considered when rules for power plants were being written.

AEP says the 600 power plant positions that would be lost pay wages totaling some $40 million a year. The EPA proposal would also lead to higher electric rates, including increases of more than 35 percent for some businesses, the company said.

AEP Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael G. Morris said the new EPA rules come at a time when people and states are still struggling.

The EPA must be held accountable if five power plants are closed, and 600 jobs are lost. The time for Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike — to rein in the EPA has come. We simply cannot let this agency continues on its current job-killing path.

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