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EPA's New Carbon Pollution Proposal Will Endanger Jobs and Weaken America's Energy Infrastructure

June 2 2014

ARLINGTON, VA – The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC), the country’s premier trade association for contractors in the union construction and maintenance industry, today joined dozens of other major business groups in calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rethink its unrealistic new proposal for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” released on June 2 would require U.S. power plants to cut carbon emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. The Agency says its plan will give individual states flexibility on how to reach this goal, but in reality, their options will be extremely limited. Many American coal-fired power plants will find it extremely difficult – if not impossible – to comply with the rule, forcing them to either shut down or convert wholesale to less dependable and more price-volatile fuel sources. With this proposal, EPA continues to “stack the deck” against coal-fired generation, which supplies roughly 40% of the nation’s power.

“There’s nothing to watch on television in the summer except reruns. Now, as the weather starts to warm up, it appears EPA is employing the same strategy as the broadcast networks by replaying the same old stale, misguided anti-coal proposals that have long been championed by environmental extremists,” said Stephen Lindauer, CEO of TAUC. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen this episode before, and we know that it ends badly for our member contractors, their partners in the building trades unions and businesses and consumers across America. As proposed, this rule will severely endanger our country’s energy independence and economic stability. And to add insult to injury, at the end of the day it will have very little impact on overall greenhouse gas emissions.”

TAUC is a strong proponent of sensible emissions regulations. Our member contractors have played a crucial role in improving America’s air quality by installing cutting-edge technology to reduce harmful emissions at hundreds of U.S. coal-fired power plants and manufacturing facilities. But ironically, EPA’s proposed rule will result in less, not more, work for our contractors. The cost of compliance will be so high that many coal-fired power plants will simply shut down or move away from coal altogether rather than go bankrupt trying to meet the unrealistic new limits. The New York Times reported on June 1 that experts predicted the rule would result in the closure of “hundreds” of coal-fired plants.

The impact of these closures is obvious: more hard-working men and women out of work; a crippled U.S. energy infrastructure unable to meet the power demands of a high-tech 21st-century economy with a rapidly expanding manufacturing base; and skyrocketing energy costs for consumers and businesses.

“EPA’s proposal sounds great on paper,” Mr. Lindauer said. “Plans dreamt up by career bureaucrats with no business or economic experience often do. Unfortunately, the real world has a nasty habit of intruding on these best-laid plans and exposing their fatal flaws. But by then it’s too late. The bureaucrats in Washington will still have their jobs, but thousands of union craft workers who have helped to build and maintain these plants will be left wondering how they’re going to feed their families and pay their mortgages.”

TAUC is calling on EPA to revise its proposal and introduce balanced, common-sense emissions regulations that recognize the importance of coal-fired generation to the country’s economy. “It’s time to stop issuing anti-coal regulations under the guise of battling climate change,” Lindauer added. “Coal-fired generation, along with natural gas, wind and solar, is an important part of a diversified national energy portfolio. It cannot be eliminated altogether without unleashing severe consequences for our economy and our citizens. Unfortunately, with this and other recent proposals, EPA seems intent on doing just that, pushing us into a new era of failing grids and rolling blackouts.”

The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC) is the premier national trade association for the 21st century union construction and maintenance industry. Our more than 2,000 member firms include union contractor companies, local union contractor associations and vendors in the industrial maintenance and construction fields. We demonstrate that union construction and maintenance are the best options because they are safer and more productive, and provide a higher quality and cost-competitive product.

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