President Obama’s Anti-Coal Agenda Threatens Reliability of our Electricity Supply

Utilities and Electricity Grid Operators Warn Federal Regulators that New EPA Regulations Will Lead to Power Shortages

The Senate Must Act Now to Reign in the EPA Before the Lights Go Out, says National Center for Public Policy Research

Washington, D.C. – Calling attention to testimony provided to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hearing last week, today policy experts from the National Center for Public Policy Research are urging Congress to stop new EPA regulations that will jeopardize the reliability of the nation’s electricity supply.

FERC, the regulatory body charged with ensuring the reliability of our electricity supply, held a technical conference on November 29 and 30 to examine the impact of new EPA regulations on our country’s power grid. The two-day conference was held in part to address concerns expressed by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI), Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding the degree to which the EPA collaborated with FERC to assess the impacts of the agency’s new regulations, including the Utility MACT and Cross-State Air Pollution rules on the power grid.

New EPA regulations will force a significant number of coal-fired power plants to close, resulting in a major reduction in electricity supply for the nation’s power grid, and the impact of the decrease in power generation is not fully understood by FERC.

“Unless Congress steps in to stop the new EPA rules targeting coal-fired electricity, it’s clear we will likely experience brownouts and blackouts next year. Testimony from utilities including American Electric Power and Southern Company as well as regional power grid operators expressed concerns that new EPA rules threaten the reliability of our power supply,” said Tom Borelli, Ph.D., director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project.

“Congressional action is needed because FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff is shunning his responsibility to determine the cumulative impact of EPA’s new rules on the reliability of the power grid. Wellinghoff’s view appears to be: let the EPA regulate, then the utilities can determine the impact on power availability. Wellinghoff’s comment is eerily similar to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) response to the concerns about the elements in ObamaCare when she said, ‘We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.’ Act first, then determine the consequences of regulations is an outrageous example of bureaucratic incompetence,” added Tom Borelli.

According to Politico, following the two-day meeting, Wellinghoff summarized the meeting to media saying, ‘What I’m hearing is that the industry wants clarity. The best way to get clarity is to get an EPA rule out.”

“It’s up to Congress, especially Senate Democrats, to stop the EPA, since FERC is failing the American people. The House of Representatives passed the TRAIN Act to control the regulatory madness at the EPA including delaying the economically harmful EPA regulations that will likely cause power outages next year and the Senate should pass it as well,” said Deneen Borelli, full-time fellow of the National Center’s Project 21.

The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act of 2011 requires the EPA to participate in an interagency commission to conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the cumulative effects of the agency’s regulations including the impact of the EPA rules on jobs, international economic competitiveness, energy prices and the reliability of the nation’s electricity supply.

“Given the uncertain economic environment and high unemployment it’s good policy and politics for members of both political parties to make sure our country has adequate power to run our economy. With Congressional approval ratings extremely low the last thing the Senate needs is to be blamed for allowing the lights to go out,” said Deneen Borelli.

The National Center For Public Policy Research is a conservative, free-market non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It had $12 million in income in 2010 and is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters, receiving about one percent of its revenue from corporate sources. Contributions are welcome and greatly appreciated.


The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.