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Congressman Jason Smith

Representing the 8th District of Missouri

Capitol Report: EPA Wants to Turn the Lights out on Rural America

Nov 8, 2013
Weekly Capitol Report

Rural communities in Missouri rely heavily on coal-fired energy to power their homes, businesses and farms. In fact, over 80% of Missouri’s power is generated by coal-fired power plants. Missourians and other rural Americans stand to lose when Washington bureaucrats regulate rural energy production instead of creating a responsible national energy policy that works for all Americans. Democrats and Republicans in Congress joined together to reject President Obama’s cap and trade ideas. Now the President is attempting to enforce these same kinds of ideas through new Environmental Protection Agency regulations without the approval of Congress. 

Recently, leaders at the EPA have proposed rules for power plants that could dramatically increase energy costs for Missouri families. The EPA is attempting to label coal ash, a byproduct of coal-fired powers plants, as a “special waste.” The label would impose handling and disposal restraints on coal plant operators. Most of Missouri’s power is generated by coal, and the new coal ash regulations would have a huge financial and operational impact on these plants. It would cost up to $42 million in capital improvements to meet the EPA’s new standards and would raise utility bills for families in our state who are already struggling.

Unfortunately, the EPA is also rejecting clean coal technology and issuing strict standards for new coal-fired electric generating plants. The new standards essentially guarantee no new coal-fired plants will be built.  If we cannot use the reliable energy coal provides, lights across rural Missouri and all of rural America will be out. President Obama’s new rules could increase the cost to build a new coal-fired power plant by over $1 billion. The $1 billion price tag makes new coal-fired power plants virtually unaffordable. At a time when America’s energy needs are increasing, the EPA should not stand in the way of building new power plants.

In Missouri, a new carbon tax could:

  • Increase the cost of using natural gas by 40%
  • Raise gasoline prices by more than 20 cents per gallon
  • Increase Household utilities by nearly 19%
  • Cost Missourians between 41,000 to 49,000 jobs

With high gas prices and rising utility bills, the last thing Missouri families need is a new carbon tax from the Obama EPA. The President has said all options need to be on the table as a national energy policy is developed – taxing Missourians disproportionately for using coal should not be one of those options. We cannot hope to generate enough power for over 300 million Americans without recognizing the importance of clean-coal technology, natural gas and oil. For Missouri, and all of rural America, coal power is essential.