Federal Judge Orders EPA to Factor Lost Coal Jobs into Clean Air Act Enforcement

Guest post by David Middleton


ABC News

Key points:

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must begin evaluating how many power plants and coal mining jobs are lost because of air pollution regulations, an analysis it hasn’t done in decades, a federal judge in West Virginia on Monday ordered.
  • U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey ruled that the EPA is required by law to analyze the economic impact on a continuing basis when enforcing the Clean Air Act.
  • EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said no administration has interpreted the law to require job impact analysis for rulemaking since 1977, the order said.

The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the EPA to analyze the economic impact of all regulations promulgated under the CAA.   How in the Hell could the EPA analyze economic impacts without analyzing the impact on jobs?  The EPA says that they have not analyzed job impacts since 1977.  Assuming this ruling does not get overturned, every regulation promulgated under the CAA since 1977, might be subject to challenge… particularly the Clean Power Plan.


Featured Image

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
October 19, 2016 12:41 pm

Greens are not supposed to take real jobs into consideration (or the rest of the real world, either).

Curious George
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 19, 2016 1:28 pm

Lost jobs are good for greens. Unemployed workers can be recruited at a small cost as activists.You don’t have to pay a salary (subject to a federal minimum wage), only a stipend.

Reply to  Curious George
October 19, 2016 1:37 pm

And canned Bulgarian artichokes to supplement the diet.
Auto – noting that, in that form, Bulgarian vegetables can also be used as a projectile weapon.

October 19, 2016 12:44 pm

” How in the Hell could the EPA analyze economic impacts without analyzing the impact on jobs? ”
I’ll bet that they include all the ( temporary ) new “green jobs” their policy is projected to create.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Greg
October 19, 2016 2:33 pm

Likely. But pie in the sky doesn’t put pie on the table.
Are all those put out of work by “The War on Coal” supposed to immigrate to China so they can build Hillary’s solar panels?

Gerry, England
Reply to  Gunga Din
October 19, 2016 2:55 pm

Or work mining coal to power the Chinese economy while the US one tanks.

Reply to  Gunga Din
October 19, 2016 4:18 pm

Gerry: Moving to China and doing coal mining is a bad idea. The Chinese have no version of MSHA and a ready supply of replacement workers should anything bad happen to a current employee. Probably better to just live under an overpass in the US and scrounge through garbage. Safer anyway.

Reply to  Greg
October 20, 2016 9:26 am

Their economic impact analysis is mostly centered around the social cost of carbon and the economic value of health impacts.
NOx and PM rules are economically justified on the basis of asthma rates – which sounds well and good.
But the models they use are linear no threshold, despite there being no scientific basis for such nonsense.
And they ignore natural and “out of sector” sources of pollutants. Wildfires are exacerbated by forest management practices and emit significant amounts of NOx, PM, and other pollutants. The cost of reducing emissions from wildfires is much lower than it is from coal plants, but coal plant owners can’t pay someone to implement better forest management practices as a way of complying with emissions standards.
It is as if the EPA is intentionally opposed to science-based regulation.

Reply to  Greg
October 20, 2016 10:22 am

Most of the economic analyses I have seen discussed in EPA regulation preambles are a total mess. They make unsubstantiated assumptions, flat out wrong and/or contradictory assumptions and reference the parts of papers that support their case and ignore the parts that do not. I could go on. They are so bad that I think they are not trying to do a real, defensible impact study, but are just filling out the blanks like a game of Mad Libs that few will read or and fewer understand.

October 19, 2016 12:53 pm

Don’t worry, Obama will sign an executive order voiding any law he dislikes.

Bubba Cow
Reply to  David Middleton
October 19, 2016 1:59 pm
Reply to  David Middleton
October 19, 2016 2:22 pm

Unless Trump wins …

He can still win if he can get the vote out. Many of Hillary’s supporters don’t vote. No matter who you support, you should not take this election for granted.

Reply to  David Middleton
October 19, 2016 2:41 pm

I’ve been wondering how the pollsters account for the growing number of early voters?
They would have to ask, have you voted and how did you vote.
For early voters, that’s all that matters. If they change their mind later, it’s just too bad.

Gunga Din
Reply to  David Middleton
October 19, 2016 2:50 pm

True. Trump said he’d appoint judges that would rule based on what the Constitution and The Bill of Rights actually say. If he holds to that then whatever he might “mess up” would be worth it in the long run.
What Trump will do regarding the courts might be an unknown but what Hillary would do is definitely a known. I know we don’t need that!

george e. smith
Reply to  David Middleton
October 19, 2016 5:45 pm

There shouldn’t be any early voters. I thought the Constitution spelled out when voting day is, something about the Tuesday after the first Wednesday in November .
Everybody should vote on voting day; not before nor after and vote in person at a voting place. Voting day should of course be a nationwide holiday so everyone can get to the polls.
And NO votes should be counted before ALL votes have been cast, which means at the end of voting day.
Eligible voters who are out of the country on official National or State business on voting day, would vote at a local Federal office such as an embassy etc. ALL military locations would be such embassies on voting day.
If you are out of the country for fun or non government business, on voting day; live with it, that’s your decision.
No absentee voting because it’s convenient. So is having a national holiday so people can vote.
Just my opinion of course. But some will hold out for any artifice to commit voting fraud, such as not requiring a photo ID, just as if you were simply borrowing a book from the library.

Reply to  David Middleton
October 20, 2016 4:23 am

“george e. smith October 19, 2016 at 5:45 pm
There shouldn’t be any early voters.”
I’m an on call over the road truck driver. I go up to the county courthouse to vote early because other than absentee that is the only way I may get to vote. During the primary this year as I stepped up to vote my phone rang calling me in to leave within hour. That is the way it is for many of us.
The problem is not when people vote. The problem is with the lack of integrity among some within the system.

October 19, 2016 1:08 pm

Who was president in 1977? Oh, right………… carter……………………….. A democrat.

October 19, 2016 1:10 pm

[snip -offtopic -mod]

Reply to  Marcus
October 19, 2016 1:45 pm

..Oops, sorry, wrong thread !!

October 19, 2016 1:13 pm

how many power plants and coal mining jobs are lost because of air pollution regulations….
That’s easy….all of them

Reply to  Latitude
October 19, 2016 3:30 pm

True, but that’s not the real jobs cost. As in Bastiat’s Window, it should be about the jobs you don’t see, as well as the jobs you see. When the cost of energy is driven up, jobs are lost across the entire economy. So while coal mining jobs are important, the jobs that coal mining creates and sustains in the rest of the economy easily outnumber them.

Taylor Pohlman
October 19, 2016 1:20 pm

If I understand this correctly, the really interesting thing about this is the EPA must compare what they estimated as potential economic impact (“the predicted impacts”) with what actually happened. If they are using the same kind of “new math” to hold down the impacts that they use to inflate the benefits and the dangers, it will be a really interesting report to read. Hopefully they will be forced to outsource this to an audit firm, or use their Inspector General office – hard to imagine they would even know how to do a real impact analysis with real data vs. their models…

Reply to  Taylor Pohlman
October 19, 2016 1:38 pm

Gasp – r e a l data!

October 19, 2016 1:20 pm

The ruling makes total sense but it will not last. This judge must not be an appointee of the Obama administration. The president appoints federal judges so you can bet Hillary will be stacking the system with judges with pro-Hillary thinking and this ruling will end up dead on appeal once it lands in the court of an Obama or Hillary appointee.
Judges in this country have so much power and their biases are what shapes our country. We try to write laws that are clear and can’t be misinterpreted but so often the fate of a legal battle just depends on who the judge is. Rulings on law interpretation that go before the supreme court, supposedly 9 of the most knowledgeable people in the country about our laws, often have rulings of 5 to 4. How can that be? Why don’t 9 people who know the law inside and out always vote 9 to 0? Maybe 8 to 1 once in a while because one judge has a personal issue with the subject, but 5 to 4? Its either legal or its not. But legality takes a back seat to judge biases way too often, especially on issues with political implications, and this ruling with be DOA (dead on appeal).

Javert Chip
Reply to  Steve
October 19, 2016 2:24 pm

Correct – appointed by G W Bush

Reply to  Steve
October 22, 2016 7:51 pm

“We try to write laws that are clear and can’t be misinterpreted…”
Read the Affordable Care Act lately?

October 19, 2016 1:20 pm

US EPA are not alone in ignoring fossil fuel benefits. Today, starting with a green NGO report I tried to track back to the primary study showing coal to be as unhealthy as they said. First I tracked it back to another NGO study, which cited a 3rd NGO study (from 2013) which cited the the European Environment Agency who said:

This report investigates the use of a simplified modelling approach to quantify, in monetary terms, the damage costs caused by emissions of air pollutants from industrial facilities reported to the E-PRTR pollutant register. In using E-PRTR data, this study does not assess whether the emissions of a given facility are consistent with its legal requirements. Nor does it assess the recognised economic and social benefits of industry (such as producing goods and products, and generating employment and tax revenues etc.).

And they ask why I do not trust experts.

Reply to  mark4asp
October 19, 2016 2:31 pm

This is standard practice for green groups. You’ll also find two-bit groups adopt official-sounding names to fool people into thinking they are respectable organisations, like the Australia Institute (which is actually very un-Australian) or the IEEFA “Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis” (which is a one-man-band run by a bloke who perhaps got the sack from his finance job because he doesn’t even understand basic finance and accounting principles).
Another common approach is to look at pollutants that are harmful in high doses, then divide by the actual dose rate and multiply across the population to get a large health cost, ignoring that many pollutants have threshold values for harm, and that most of the time health impacts are not linearly related to dose rates.

Reply to  AP
October 19, 2016 2:43 pm

All pollutants have threshold values.
All of the time health impacts are not linearly related to dose rates.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  AP
October 19, 2016 2:58 pm

A lethal dose of milk will kill you.

Reply to  AP
October 19, 2016 3:55 pm

Ingestion of enough water will kill you, too.
Breathing 100% Oxygen long enough will, too.
So, if lethality is the only standard for defining a pollutant, then all substances are pollutants.

george e. smith
Reply to  AP
October 19, 2016 5:48 pm

Like Oxygen for example.

george e. smith
Reply to  AP
October 19, 2016 5:48 pm

A lethal dose of anything, will kill you.

Reply to  AP
October 20, 2016 3:37 am

“All pollutants have threshold values.”
There was a time (30 years ago), that anti-nuclear activists were promoting the claim that radiation had no threshold value; in other words, no matter how small an amount was received, it was nonetheless causing harm. I recently read something that claimed that that idea was just bunkum.
I haven’t had the time to check where that came from, but the human body has many ways to protect itself from other poisons with no harm from sub-lethal doses. Oxygen and water are just two examples where small amounts are absolutely necessary to survival.

Owen in GA
Reply to  AP
October 20, 2016 7:03 am

There is a strange problem in the nuclear data. The shape of the curve is similar for all subjects, but the point where radiation exposure goes from net beneficial to negative is over a fairly wide dosage range from one subject to another. I am sure that someone better at statistics than I could probably figure out where that safe dosage line is, but they probably won’t because of the threats of lawsuits from people who are more sensitive outliers who gets sick in the “safe” zone. (Not mentioning shyster lawyers who will manipulate juries with emotional appeals contrary to the science – oops I guess I just did.) There is so much whipped up emotion on nuclear issues that I doubt we will ever discuss it rationally as a society.
In general it appears that those in low level radiation areas (non aerosol) are healthier than those in near zero radiation areas and definitely healthier than those in areas with aerosol radioactive particles (like radon). Nuclear workers at power plants tend to be healthier than their weapons processing counterparts and healthier than the general public. (Though the weapons processing center numbers are probably skewed by some of the practices at the sites in the 50s and 60s that led to greater environmental exposures for those populations.) It has been hypothesized that low level radiation raises the activity levels of the body’s DNA repair mechanisms, but damage ensues once those mechanisms become overwhelmed. I haven’t seen any tests of this hypothesis though since I can imagine that getting a group of subjects to volunteer to be intentionally exposed to radiation may be a tough sell. The tests I have seen were all based on population surveys and occupational safety and health reports. I don’t know how they would control for all the variations in lifestyle that might impact the results.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  AP
October 20, 2016 9:12 am

Red granites that you find in building envelopes, reception areas, elevator facings countertops, etc. can reach ore grade uranium at ~$100/lb of 80% U3O8. This was kept a secret by the stone industry for decades and still is only known to few outside the stone and the uranium industries. It also contains easily measureable 40K radioactive isotope in its potassium feldspars which make up ~25-30% of the granite. Moreover, red granite terrain that underlies very extensive areas of Canada, Michigan and eastward in US plus coast range batholiths in western North America have people living and working on top of it day and night.
Much of the EPA and other activist environmental jurisdictions have over hyped acceptable dosage rates of essentially everything. As a kid, my friends and I played with mercury because is was so cool, chewed tar, had mercurochrome generously applied to scrapes and cuts. As a contractor, I wrote a comprehensive report on the economics of antimony (Sb) for a mineral and mining information firm in UK (roskill.com) and noted an alarmist article where a researcher had found that bottled water stored for a year had, IIRC 30 parts per trillion antimony oxide in it from the catalyst that was used in making the plastic for the container. Meanwhile, an antimony compound is used by the spoonful as a medicine!
“A hydrated potassium antimonyl tartrate called “tartar emetic” is currently used in medicine as an expectorant, diaphoretic, and emetic.”
BTW, a graphic depiction of 30 ppt is: the distance from the earth to the sun is 0.15 trillion metres. 30ppt is equivalent to 5metres of the total distance!

Taylor Pohlman
October 19, 2016 1:24 pm

One more observation here. A lot has been said about the importance of the Supreme Court, but the stealth issue is federal judges – if the current trend continues, there won’t be any left that will take this kind of courageous stand. Once they all get replaced with “good soldiers in the cause”, then the cost of even getting to the Supreme Court will be prohibitive, and the notion of a temporary injunction to halt onerous regulation will disappear.

Curious George
Reply to  Taylor Pohlman
October 19, 2016 1:30 pm

That’s where a real consensus is moving.

Reply to  Taylor Pohlman
October 19, 2016 2:49 pm

I closely watched the SCO vs. the world mess for its whole run. The differing quality of the judges was hard to miss. They ranged from truly amazingly good to some who made me wonder if they’d ever even attended law school. We can hope that the president will accidentally appoint a few of the good ones.
Venue shopping works. In this case it is unsurprising that a Virginia judge ruled against the EPA.

October 19, 2016 1:33 pm

Excellent news! West Virginia has more than its share of economic woes without taking away coal jobs.
Has anyone done an analysis to discover how costly in lost jobs, nation-wide, the CAA will be?

M Seward
October 19, 2016 2:21 pm

What is all the fuss about jobs? This judge is obviously a Republican stooge.
Hound him from office and let them eat gluten free, organic cake!!

October 19, 2016 2:31 pm

Presumably Gina interpreted the law in a manner to do what she wants, which is to NOT reveal any downside to choking industry with EPA regulations. As in the past she continued to implement her plans even when ordered not to by the Court, I’m guessing she won’t bother to take job losses into account as ordered here. It will simply not be done.
Why isn’t Gina McCarthy in jail?

Reply to  A.D. Everard
October 19, 2016 2:44 pm

Because Obama gets to appoint the attorney general.

Reply to  MarkW
October 19, 2016 2:48 pm

Thanks, MarkW. Yes, I am aware of that, my question was ill-posed.

Reply to  MarkW
October 20, 2016 3:40 am

I think you meant rhetorical.

Reply to  A.D. Everard
October 19, 2016 2:45 pm

Okay – Perhaps what I should be asking is why isn’t there a loud outcry about Gina McCarthy’s behavior? Is all this examination going to lead somewhere? I sure hope so.

Joel Snider
Reply to  A.D. Everard
October 19, 2016 3:49 pm

AD Everhard: in simple terms: media protection. In collusion with the Administration. Which gives me less cause for hope.

Reply to  A.D. Everard
October 19, 2016 4:07 pm

“Okay – Perhaps what I should be asking is why isn’t there a loud outcry about Gina McCarthy’s behavior?”
The Leftwing Media has to get upset about it before there is any outcry. If the Leftwing Media isn’t upset, you will never hear about it. They are not upset about McCarthy’s behavior. They are not upset about Hillary’s behavior, either.

Joel Snider
Reply to  A.D. Everard
October 19, 2016 3:48 pm

The same reason Lisa Jackson isn’t.

October 19, 2016 2:59 pm

Private sector jobs are for losers.

October 19, 2016 3:03 pm

“There should a test for prognosticators , forecasters, and visionaries: They should have to disclose their past record for predicting the future.”
Anonymous Heins

October 19, 2016 3:14 pm

Where’s a “good model” when you need it?

October 19, 2016 3:24 pm

Just like with the IRS scandal, EPA will ignore this with impunity, and thumb its nose at any House Republicans attempts to shame EPA into complying. Gina McCarthy, her of the thick Boston brogue and thin mannish haircut, will bluster and brazen through thick and thin. After all, what price saving the planet? Hey?

October 19, 2016 3:33 pm

“….The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must begin evaluating how many power plants and coal mining jobs are lost because of air pollution regulations…”
Don’t know if they do or don’t but wouldn’t this be a good place to add in the cost of the subsidies for a more complete analysis. Maybe that would be too scary?

Joel Snider
October 19, 2016 3:47 pm

I think the EPA has already factored them in and they don’t care.
Just one look in the half-hypnotized, zealot eyes of Gina McCarthy and that’s all you need to know.

Reply to  Joel Snider
October 19, 2016 6:30 pm

And what about the conventional power plant and auto workers losing jobs? No economic losses from these events? Then the domino effect takes place.
Close a conventional power plant and a big chunk of taxes are lost to local communities.
Wind and solar projects transfer tax bases from one community to another.

Joel Snider
Reply to  Barbara
October 20, 2016 1:26 pm

Wealth transfer. Removing something that was stable and reliable, and killing the local tax base, to provide subsidies for pet eco-feel-good projects.

Reply to  Joel Snider
October 19, 2016 6:55 pm

Wonder what other questionable choice the EPA has made

October 19, 2016 4:09 pm

And what is the Clean Power Plan supposed to accomplish? A 32% reduction in CO2 output from US power generation (not just coal). The US is responsible for about 16% of the world’s CO2 output. Power generation represents about 31% of US CO2 production. Therefore – 16% * 31% * 32% = 1.6%. CPP will reduce the global C2 output by 1.6%. China and India will cancel that out with their next dozen coal fired power plants.

October 19, 2016 4:16 pm

Gina McCarthy employment at the EPA is safe till about 5 minutes after a Trump win .
The EPA is one of the most corrupt agencies in USA history . Fire 10 ‘s of thousands of coal workers and
no consideration of the economic issues . They have to be told by a judge . Exporting coal and jobs is a crime lead by the ECO- Facists at the EPA .
Sure make America Great Again but first you have to get it back from lobby groups and the EPA .

george e. smith
Reply to  Amber
October 19, 2016 5:54 pm

Get rid of all of those bureaucracies. ALL laws should be WRITTEN by ONLY elected members of the Congress.
Congresspersons who vote to not themselves make the laws, should resign from the Congress. That is the ONLY reason they are there is to write the laws.

Reply to  Amber
October 20, 2016 3:45 am

Is Gina McCarthy related to THAT McCarthy? Or is that just a serendipitous coincidence?

Reply to  Hivemind
October 20, 2016 7:27 am

You mean Paul?

Reply to  Hivemind
October 20, 2016 10:32 am

She’s related to Charlie McCarthy.

Owen in GA
Reply to  Amber
October 20, 2016 7:28 am

The only way to effect that change would be to rewrite the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. In their current forms they give full authority to the rule-writers at the EPA. In my opinion, the acts need to be rewritten to explicitly state what can and can not be regulated and to require the congress to write all rules in this area. They also need to clearly state what may and may not be adjudicated in the courts (the constitution was clear on this in the beginning – congress determining the court’s jurisdiction is the only check on the court’s power) to prevent the sue and settle strategy that has proven so profitable to the eco-loons. The EPA should be a thing of history with enforcement of the laws written by congress assigned to the Department of Justice.
The problem is that the press will crucify anyone attempting to touch these “sacred” acts of progressive empowerment.

October 19, 2016 4:40 pm

“Unfunded mandates” OUGHT to be illegal; mandating or requiring some ‘thing’ or procedure is one thing if the cost impact is nominal BUT if a significant cost is to be incurred to meet the mandate then my thinking is that such a mandate should require funding or underwriting by whatever agency, state or federal, imposes said “mandates” that are above and beyond whatever equipment or procedures have been customarily implemented up to that point.

Claude Harvey
October 19, 2016 4:57 pm

Assuming the order stands and assuming the EPA complies (a big if, given the current administration’s defiance of the laws of the land), I can almost guarantee that any study performed by the EPA of economic impact will conclude that jobs lost by killing conventional electric power sources will be more than offset by jobs created through renewable energy replacements. Ask bankrupted Spain and Portugal how that one worked out! Maybe, in the “border-less free trade world” Hillary told the investment bankers she dreams of, jobs created in China should offset jobs lost in America for a new definition of economic impact. In that event, the EPA wouldn’t even have to bring in its accustomed “tortured logic” (such as assigning huge economic value to fewer runny noses) to make the numbers work out to its desired conclusion.

October 19, 2016 5:03 pm

I would say the miners, all of the supply chain of businesses that service the coal industry, and their workers, have an excellent case for a class action lawsuit that would run into the hundreds of billions. I can’t for the life of me understand why the miners union bosses have sold the rank and file out so easily.

October 19, 2016 5:40 pm

Oh, c’mon.
The analysis was done in 2008, by the man in charge of the EPA & the secretary of state.
“Under my plan … electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”
“If somebody wants to build (or operate) a coal-fired power plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them,”
“We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

October 19, 2016 10:34 pm

From my experience in government it’s useless trying to ask departments to consider adverse economic impacts of their policies, partly because they don’t even collect such data.
But there is one good way to address this, incorporate other department’s data into inter-departmental reviews and reports. This usually provides more balance and forces departments to integrate and consider other government views.
‘Rogue’ departments only continue to be rogue where they are not counterbalanced by other equally legitimate departments, such as the EPA working together with primary industries, mines and energy resources etc. differing values can sometimes be fused into a more educated and balanced approach.

October 20, 2016 4:57 am

Excellent, thanks David.

October 20, 2016 8:09 am

This won’t amount to anything of course — data manipulation is their expertise.

Troy Brooks
October 20, 2016 9:04 am

runaround…they think that retraining for jobs that folks have no vested interest in,is ok… welfare and food banks are sufficient if folks do not respond in a manner they see as right…like…that is what they deserve..and that is the good ol’ american values at work ;)…work your ass off for someone that does not care then get pushed aside by someone that cares even less…

I Can Hear It Now
October 20, 2016 10:06 am

Waaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT ISN’T FAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

%d bloggers like this: