EPA’S Coal Hearings: Come on, Mr. President, Not Even the Appearance of Fairness?

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Chris-Hopkins2By Christopher Hopkins, The Saint Consulting Group

In the coming months the federal Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), will be holding a series of 11 “listening sessions” in order to receive feedback possible and proposed changes in the Clean Air Act and their approach on reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants.

Now let’s be clear, these sessions are being held by the EPA in order to get the public’s opinion on new coal emission standards, coal mining in the United States and the future of coal fired power plants.

Knowing that, common sense would dictate that you want well rounded geographically balanced sources of information so naturally some of these sessions would be held in high coal producing or coal consuming states.

If that is what you thought, you would be wrong. While there will be hearings in Dallas, Chicago and Kansas, that would be an aberration. Those locations where listening sessions will be held are listed followed by their ranks by state in coal consumption and coal production.

LocationState UsageState Production
San Francisco, CA38thN/A*
Boston, MA37thN/A
Seattle, WA35th26th
New York, NY34thN/A
Atlanta, GA10thN/A
Denver, CO22nd11th
Chicago, IL2nd7th
Washington, DC49thN/A
Dallas, TX1st5th
Philadelphia, PA5th4th**
Lenexa, KS21st25th

* N/A means that their ranking is not in the top 26 states for coal production.

** Let us be clear about Pennsylvania, Philadelphia is not coal country, it is 330 miles from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, which is on the edge of coal country.

You will notice an absence of the coal producing states of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio, Wyoming and so on. Of the top ten coal producing states, only three have a listening session and as with Pennsylvania, the Chicago session is hundreds of miles from the Illinois Basin coal production region, so in all honesty, there is one listening session being held even near a coal producing region of the country, in Texas.

As for coal consumption, there are four listening sessions in the top ten coal consuming states, again including Illinois and Pennsylvania that are no where near coal country.

There is sufficient representation from the anti coal cadre of protesters located in, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York, Seattle, WA, Denver.

This all leads me to ask, do they want a well rounded array of opinions or is this an agenda driven exercise designed to produce the results that the administration desires?

Christopher Hopkins is senior vice president for mining and aggregates for The Saint Consulting Group, email hopkins@tscg.biz

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