IBEW Says EPA Plan Threatens Jobs, Grid

July 11, 2014


The IBEW is criticizing the EPA’s new carbon rule, which it says will kill jobs and lead to more blackouts and higher electricity prices.
Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user Tau Zero


The IBEW, along with other unions that represent energy workers, are criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, saying it will kill jobs and put the electrical grid at risk.


“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 EPA estimates that the plan would remove 40,000 megawatts of coal-generating capacity by 2020, eliminating 50,000 direct jobs and another 100,000 to 150,000 indirect jobs that rely on the economic activity created by coal plants.

Hill says that the EPA’s plan not only threatens jobs, but puts the U.S.’s power system at risk. Despite the growth of renewable energy in the last decade, solar and wind still provide less than 13 percent 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.

For customers that could mean more blackouts and higher electricity prices.

The EPA’s efforts are unlikely to have much effect on global carbon emissions. While the U.S. has reduced its CO2 output in the last decade, developing nations like China and India are using more and more coal to power their economies, making any isolated U.S. effort ineffective in combating climate change.

The United Mine Workers and the IBEW are planning a rally in Pittsburgh July 31 to protest the rules. “The EPA has consistently underplayed the pain of previous regulations and working families have paid a heavy price,” Hill said. “We must make our voices heard to avoid another preventable blow to working families.”

The agency will hold 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.

Hill says that the IBEW is calling on politicians from both parties to come together to craft a genuine bipartisan energy plan to protect jobs and set a realistic timeline for cleaner air.