Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers testified the week of Sept. 29 in four cities in opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power plan. Leaders and members of the IBEW also joined with United Mine Workers of America members and other supporters of good energy jobs to rally in Pittsburgh, the site of one of the EPA’s regional hearings on the issue.
The IBEW said the plan will kill more than 150,000 good jobs, while having a minimal effect on global greenhouse emissions.
“If these rules are implemented as written, dozens of coal plants will shut down and with no plans to replace them, tens of thousands of jobs will be lost and global carbon emissions will rise anyway,” said International President Edwin D. Hill.
The agency held field hearings July 29 and 30 in Atlanta, Denver and Washington, D.C., and July 31 and Aug. 1 in Pittsburgh to hear public comments on the rule.
“America needs an energy plan that balances the environment, the economy and jobs,” Hill said. “But the EPA’s poorly thought out rule will do nothing but kill vital jobs and threaten the reliability of the electrical grid, hurting customers and businesses.”
The agency estimates that its plan will shutter more than 40GW of coal-generated power by 2020. Despite the growth of renewable energy in the last decade, solar and wind still provide less than 5% of the country’s electricity. Shutting down dozens of coal plants in a short amount of time makes it difficult for utilities to keep the power on during bouts of extreme weather, like last winter’s polar vortex system, which produced sustained periods of frigid temperatures.
“As an organization of energy professionals, we understand how important renewable energy is to combating climate change and balancing our nation’s energy portfolio,” Hill said. “But we don’t have the alternative energy capacity necessary to replace the loss of that many power plants according to the EPA’s timeline.”
Hill said that the IBEW’s estimates regarding the damage to jobs and the economy created by poorly planned climate regulations has consistently been shown to be true in comparison to the overly optimistic predictions made by the EPA.
“The federal government and Democrats and Republicans in Congress need to hear our voice and come together to craft a serious bipartisan energy plan that grows our economy and reduces carbon emissions.”