Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown's War on Power Plants

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, an Occupy Wall Street supporter who is rated by the National Journal as the Senate’s most liberal member, is at it again. A hard-line leftist, he is putting his ideology above the needs of his constituents.

Brown has declared war on coal, which is incredible considering his state generates 86% of its electricity from coal and the state’s mining industry employees 27,000 Ohioans. Over the summer,  Brown joined Obama in the trenches to destroy coal jobs and cheap energy. One of Obama’s new regulations abuses executive power and is called Utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology, or Utility MACT. It would make the building of new coal plants an impossibility and cost existing plants tens of billions of dollars to retrofit their systems. Many will choose to just close down, just like six of FirstEnergy’s plants. And, just like Obama predicted, and desires, MACT will cause electricity rates to necessarily skyrocket. Brown was one of the 4 deciding votes to keep the new regulation.

Now, Brown continues to stand with President Obama and the EPA, which through new regulations is essentially banning the creation of new coal power plants, while shutting down dozens of fully functional plants across the country and favoring imperfect natural gas. As reported in Human Events:

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has enacted three significant regulations for new air emission standards with an annual cost expected to total more than $13 billion. Several more, including two proposed rules dealing with air and coal ash, could cost an additional $20 billion to $90 billion annually, according to a recent energy report by the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

The coal industry estimates its labor force at 135,000—Black is one of 2,000 who lost their jobs this year. Another 10,000 layoffs in direct and related jobs are expected in the coming months, and job loss estimates leaked from the Obama administration on the effects of just one water rule predicted another 7,000 coal jobs would be eliminated.

New coal-fired plants banned

The regulatory barrage is expected to close 175 coal-fired electric generating units, and effectively bans the opening of any new coal-fired power plants, diminishing the reliability of electricity and increasing the cost across half the nation, the Senate report said.

“I think the EPA is doing real harm to the United States with their heavy-handed activities,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), policy committee chairman and the report’s author. “It’s not just the coal plants that are suffering, it’s the entire communities because of the jobs related to it.”

“Energy security is part of our economic security and our national security, and coal is the most available, affordable reliable and secure source of energy that we have in America,” Barrasso said. “We have hundreds of years of supply, we cannot as a nation allow this to become a stranded asset.”

The Senate report expressed concerns from power companies they would be forced out of business because the upgrades are too expensive. Southern Company, a utility that covers states from Mississippi to Georgia, said electricity rationing is almost inevitable if the EPA’s timelines cannot be met.

“The cost of those regulations are real, but the benefits are unknown,” Barrasso said. “The EPA seems to be held hostage by environmental extremists, who seem to not want us to use fossil fuels of any sort.”

The U.S. has more than 1,400 coal-fired electric generating units at more than 600 power plants that produce nearly half of the country’s electricity to 60 million homes and 3.4 million businesses.

By regulating coal into oblivion, President Obama hopes that preferred alternative energy sources like wind and sun can be more competitive, Barrasso said.

Because of these regulations, natural gas which Ohioans use to power their homes has skyrocketed in price to 52%, which is the last thing that struggling, out-of-work Ohioans need.  According to Reuters data, as demand is expanding globally, natural gas is quickly approaching a price which is $2 more than the same per unit, which results in higher energy prices for cash-strapped consumers who already heat their homes with natural gas.

In the last five years, Sherrod Brown quickly made the leap from an insignificant career politician from Lorain, to becoming an effective poster boy for special interest groups such as the Sierra Club and Greenpeace – organizations with nationwide campaigns to eliminate coal-fired power plants and other energy resources important to Ohio.

Brown’s negative impact has reached far outside of Ohio.  By voting to prevent by stopping the Keystone pipeline, he prevented the creation of 13,000 construction jobs and 7,000 manufacturing jobs. This is in addition to giving oil markets the additional supply necessary to keep gas prices lower than the current average of more than $4.00/gallon.

And as Ohio slowly tries to rebuild after the devastating economic recession, Brown’s policies are wrong for his state and America.