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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Cuccinelli Works To Protect Southwest Virginia Jobs

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in Washington yesterday regarding the widespread damage the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will inflict on the nation - most acutely on Southwest Virginia - if it is allowed to implement its Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule, which creates national standards for emissions for many of the nation's power plants.

Here's a portion of General Cuccinelli's testimony:
to the U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
November 1, 2011

Chairman Issa, Ranking Member Cummings, and members of the committee, I am Ken Cuccinelli, attorney general for the Commonwealth of Virginia. I want to thank the committee for its invitation to speak about the MACT rule.

One of my duties as attorney general is to serve as the attorney for utility customers in my state, advocating for fair rates for customers when electric utilities seek rate increases from the commission that approves them.

As you know, public utilities that have their rates set by state commissions are entitled under the U.S. Constitution to recover from customers the necessary expenses they incur to provide utilities. That includes the expenses to comply with federal laws and regulations. That means every time new environmental regulations are placed on electric utilities, it is actually the customers I represent who pay the cost.

This is not to say that environmental regulations should automatically be rejected because they impose some costs. But it does mean that the EPA should follow the proper procedures to ensure the alleged benefits of the regulation outweigh the real world costs.

Unfortunately, the EPA has not been following normal procedures. In its Regulatory Impact Analysis for the MACT rule, the EPA conceded that the rule would increase electricity prices and would cost jobs in certain sectors. Yet EPA admitted that it did not have sufficient information to quantify those losses.

In fact, the rule will have a huge economic impact on this nation:

● First, it will increase electricity prices between 10 and 35 percent. That can be a financial death blow for businesses struggling to meet payroll and families on fixed incomes.

● Second, retrofitting power plants to meet the standards will be prohibitively expensive, so there is no question that certain plants will close and the nation's electricity supply will decrease, leading to upward pressure on prices and likely brownouts and blackouts. The EPA even concedes that at least 10 gigawatts of electricity will be lost from the nation's power grid; but FERC says over 80 gigawatts.

● Third, while the EPA says it cannot quantify the number, it acknowledges that jobs will be lost. There are estimates of 180,000 jobs per year between 2013 and 2020.

For Virginia, the situation is even bleaker than for the rest of the nation. A majority of the electricity for Southside and Southwest Virginia is generated from coal. Since the MACT rule will significantly increase prices for electricity produced from coal, the poorest part of my state will face the largest price increases - including part of Appalachia, one of the poorest parts of America.

But it gets even worse. The most important industry in Southwest Virginia is coal mining. These regulations make coal more expensive and less desirable to use, which means the economy of Southwest Virginia - again, including Appalachia - will be devastated by the destruction of the coal industry and the jobs lost along with it.

Whatever you think of the benefits of the MACT rule, a decision about whether it is prudent policy simply cannot be made without considering these impacts - and not just for Virginia, but for the entire country.
While the Obama administration frets over the plight of some Africans in a country that means nothing to any of us, he's willing to inflict grievous harm on an already devastated Southwest Virginia in order to reduce microscopic utility emissions microscopically.

You know that "jobs tour" Obama's been on?

It's all bullshit.  He doesn't care if any of us are employed.  The atmosphere is the important thing.

Thanks go out to Ken Cuccinelli for being there for us.