UMWA Release on EPA withdrawal of the Clean Power Plan


OCTOBER 10, 2017

The Clean Power Plan was destined to fail. America must take a different path to address greenhouse gas emissions.

[TRIANGLE, VA.] The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) supports today’s withdrawal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) by the Trump administration, while at the same time encouraging the administration to move quickly to propose a more reasonable replacement rule and step up support of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and its commercial application.

            “We said from the very beginning of this rule that is was unworkable and far exceeded EPA’s authority under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said today. “That’s why we filed suit against the CPP on the day it became final, that’s why we joined the successful motion to stay the rule at the Supreme Court, and that’s why we rallied our members again and again against this rule. We are not sad to see it go.

            “Our view at the time this rule came out was that our government was placing the burden of solving global climate change squarely on the backs of American coal miners, their families and their communities. And it was doing this while countries like China and India were continuing to build coal-fired plants. That is even more true today.”

            Roberts cited a recent report from Urgewald, a German environmental organization, which said there will be 1,600 new coal-fired power plants built in the next decade world-wide, nearly half of which will be built by Chinese interests. While many of those plants will be built in China, many more will be built in countries that currently have little or no coal-fired power.

            “There are so many in the United States who want to put hundreds of thousands of American coal miners, utility workers, electrical workers, boilermakers, railway workers, seafarers, and construction workers out of work – as well as destroying the jobs of all the people who support those workers,” Roberts said. “Yet at the same time China is rapidly developing and implementing a plan to keep their workers employed and spread coal-fired electrical generation throughout the world.

            “The Sierra Club likes to brag about how many coal-fired power plants they’ve shut down in the United States,” Roberts said. “I’m not sure why they’re proud of that, given the very real pain and suffering those shutdowns have caused millions of people who live in the states where those plants existed, and the communities where the coal was mined that powered those plants.

            “Greenhouse gas emissions pay no attention to national borders,” Roberts said. “So if the Sierra Club’s claim that it has shut down 259 coal plants since 2010 is true, and there are 1,600 slated to be built worldwide in the next decade, even my coal miner’s math says worldwide emissions will go up – and by a lot.

            “That would still be true if you shut down every coal-fired plant in the United States, which was the ultimate goal of the Clean Power Plan,” Roberts said. “It was never going to reduce global emissions.”

            Roberts said that the better way for the United States to pursue true, lasting emissions reductions now and into the future is for the EPA to take a measured, inside the fence approach that reduces emissions at the source. One key component of this has to be New Source Review reform, which will allow utilities to replace older components like turbines and boilers with new units that will operate much more efficiently and therefore use less fuel, reducing emissions on a megawatt-per-hour basis.

            “It is especially important that our government also take every opportunity to increase incentives and provide material support to develop commercially available carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology,” Roberts said. “I would venture to guess that not one of those 1,600 new coal-fired plants coming globally in the next decade will have CCS technology attached to it.

            “The truth is that without the application of CCS technology here in the United States and especially worldwide, humanity will never be able to stop the rise of greenhouse gas emissions from the global power sector,” Roberts said. “We ought to be about the business of aggressively developing this technology and taking the lead in supplying it across the world. Let’s take the technological initiative away from China and put Americans back to work building something again.”