U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Holidaysburg, and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said FirstEnergy’s plan to deactivate the Hatfield’s Ferry Power Station in Greene County and the Mitchell Power Station in Washington County are the results of President Barack Obama’s “war on coal.”
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said he supports coal and wants the state to continue being a leader in energy production.
Shuster said the plants are the latest casualties of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that the president is making more stringent.
“It’s outrageous, this administration’s war on coal. These are two more casualties from EPA regulations,” Shuster said Tuesday, the day the closings were announced. “It will result in more plant closings. The president and the EPA are out of hand.”
He said more than 100 power plants have already closed and predicted that 200 in 25 states will close.
“This is what happens when you give the executive branch too much power. Congress must hold the power granted to it in the Constitution,” Shuster said.
Hatfield is “80 percent clean,” he said, referring to the sulfur dioxide-removing scrubber system installed several years ago, and could be the first plant in the country with a scrubber to close.
Closing the plants will cost 380 FirstEnergy employees their jobs and have a ripple effect throughout the economy, especially in the coal mining industry, Shuster said.
In a prepared statement, Shuster said: “Hard-working coal miners in Pennsylvania are losing their jobs because the Obama administration continues to regulate the industry to death. These closures come after President Obama’s climate speech in Washington announcing further action by the EPA to circumvent Congress and place unattainable requirements on coal fired power plants.
“The EPA under President Obama’s leadership continues to overstep its bounds and create regulations with no regard for either the Constitution or our energy security and is essentially legislating coal workers out of jobs,” the statement continued.
“FirstEnergy has publicly stated these plant shutdowns are due to the outrageous cost of ‘compliance with current and future environmental regulations.’ It is time for President Obama to recognize that coal is affordable, plentiful and environmentally sound with responsible companies like FirstEnergy leading the industry.
House Republicans have repeatedly voted to put an end to these overreaching regulations and stop this war on coal. I will continue to fight the Obama administration and do my best to protect miners and their families.”
Toomey also issued a statement saying: “I am very disappointed that — due to the Obama administration’s policies — FirstEnergy is deactivating coal-fired power plants in Fayette and Washington counties today and leaving hundreds out of work. These unemployed Pennsylvanians are unfortunate casualties in the president’s ‘war on coal,’ which I will continue to fight against in the Senate.
“Coal is a domestically sourced, low-cost form of energy which helps sustain jobs for Pennsylvania and beyond. Over the decades, coal-fired plants also have gone to impressive lengths to reduce emissions. Nevertheless, the Obama administration continues to implement policies that will make energy more expensive for hard-working Pennsylvanians while destroying good, family-sustaining jobs,” Toomey continued.
“It is ironic that this announcement comes just two weeks after the president’s ‘war on coal’ remarks which were a rehash of the same old bad ideas we have heard for four and a half years. From making coal-fired electricity prohibitively expensive; to forcing taxpayers to subsidize inefficient energy; to burning more corn in gas tanks, the president continues to advocate policies that raise prices for consumers and eliminate jobs,” said Toomey.
Casey said he has fought to protect coal because it is a reliable, lower-priced energy source and critical for jobs.
He said he has consistently pushed the administration to revise regulations.