A planned 1200 megawatt, $3 billion coal-fired power plant in Corpus Christi, Texas is one of the latest casualties in the war on affordable, reliable energy. Chase Power, the company behind the Las Brisas power plant, announced last month that it is cancelling the project due to red tape and litigation spawned by the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations on coal plants.

Discussing the demise of the project, which would have used the petroleum coke byproduct of refineries as an electricity generating source, Chase Power CEO Dave Freysinger held the EPA responsible. “The (Las Brisas Energy Center) is a victim of EPA’s concerted effort to stifle solid-fuel energy facilities in the U.S., including EPA’s carbon-permitting requirements and EPA’s New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for new power plants,” he said. “These costly rules exceeded the bounds of EPA authority, incur tremendous costs, and produce no real benefits related to climate change.”

The plant—and the 3,900 jobs that would have come with it—fell victim to EPA’s concerted effort to end coal-fired power in the U.S. using rules like the ban on new coal-fired power plants and the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule (MATS, and also colloquially called Utility MACT).

But Las Brisas is just one more example of EPA’s efforts. Barclays, the investment bank, estimates that the MATS rule alone will cause 42 gigawatts of coal plant generating capacity to close.[1]

President Obama has said many times that we should follow the example of Europe when it comes to electricity generation. But that is a recipe for higher electricity rates. In Germany, residential electricity prices are nearly three times higher than the U.S., thanks to the country’s massive subsidies for renewables.

Cap-and-trade legislation failed in 2009 when Obama’s allies controlled both chambers of Congress, because the American people rejected it. MATS and the ban on new coal-fired power plants are the president’s attempt to impose by regulatory fiat what he could not accomplish democratically. These are costly rules which the American people never asked for and President Obama never ran on. They are a reflection of how “the most open and transparent” administration in history has failed to live up to its billing.

For the past few years electricity demand growth has been weak because of a sputtering economy. But there will hopefully come a time when we will need more energy. When that time comes, these coal-fired power plants will be gone and America will have substantially less affordable, reliable energy. The electricity we need to power our homes, schools, and offices will be more expensive, and our country will be worse off for it. That’s not progress, it’s perilous.


[1] Barclays, Power & Uilities: CO2 Reductions Ahead, Jan. 28, 2013.

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