Dear Senator,

On behalf of the West Virginia coal industry and the 63,000 West Virginia families who depend on coal for their livelihood, I write in strong support of S.J.Res. 37. This resolution will stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing what could be the most costly federal regulations in history, the onerous “Utility MACT” rules.

Under the 1996 Congressional Review Act, Congress has the authority to disapprove of overly-burdensome regulations and, as SJR 37 resolution does, order that “such rule shall have no force or effect.” There is no more appropriate time to exercise this power than now, as this administration continues to pile costly rule after costly rule onto our still-struggling economy. These rules have the stated purpose of reducing mercury emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants, but there is no credible evidence that this is even a real public health problem. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the authors of the Seychelles Child Development Study all would take issue with the EPA’s absurd standard, arguing that we’ve already achieved safe mercury levels. U.S. power plants are not even a significant source of mercury emissions compared to other sources:

How do America’s coal-burning power plants fit into the picture?

  • They emit an estimated 41- 48 tons of mercury per year
  • U.S. forest fires emit at least 44 tons per year
  • Cremation of human remains discharges 26 tons
  • Chinese power plants eject 400 tons
  • Volcanoes, subsea vents, geysers and other sources spew out 9,000-10,000 additional tons per year.

All these emissions enter the global atmospheric system and become part of the U.S. air mass. Since our power plants account for less than 0.5 percent of all the mercury in the air we breathe, eliminating every milligram of it will do nothing about the other 99.5 percent in our atmosphere.

Former OIRA administrator Susan Dudley also shows that the EPA is exaggerating the rule’s supposed benefits through accounting tricks, with 99.996 percent of the total benefits coming from the “co-benefits” of reducing fine particulate matter to a level well below what the EPA has already established as safe in other onerous emissions rules. Given this evidence, many have argued that, in fact, this is just another backdoor way for the EPA to close down power plants and impose climate change regulations that Congress and voters have already decisively rejected.

Not only are the benefits basically a fiction, but worse still this rule will impose significant costs on the American family at a time when they can least afford it. The EPA itself estimates annual compliance costs of $11 billion, however independent estimates are much higher. NERA Economic Consulting predicts that the rule will cost the electricity-generation industry $17.8 billion per year, shutting down coal plants and driving up electricity prices by 12 percent nationwide and as much as 24 percent in certain regions. This will ultimately cost the American economy more than 1.4 million jobs. Shutting down coal plants and causing electricity prices to rise even higher is simply the wrong thing to do when American families are already suffering from high energy prices.

The EPA must end its war on American people. The West Virginia Coal Association is proud to support S.J.Res. 37. and I urge you to support passage of this important resolution.


Chris Hamilton, senior vice president
West Virginia Coal Association

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