Coal’s pink slip

North Dakota coal heads for the exit if the EPA has its way.

The Dakota Resource Council, a left-wing non-profit environmental organization based in North Dakota, told the North Dakota Monitor in an April 1 news story that it supports the Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that experts from the North Dakota Division of Environmental Quality have called a “death penalty” for North Dakota’s coalfired power plants.  

According to the story:  

Scott Skokos of the Dakota Resource Council, an environmental group, said the rule shouldn’t come as a surprise to the coal industry. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards started under the Obama administration to reduce the health threats of mercury.  

“These rules have been in the hopper for years,” Skokos said in an interview.  

He said his group is supportive of the rule.  

“We don’t need to be living like we did in the 1960s as far as environmental regulations, because from what I’ve seen from our Industrial Commission, that’s what they want,” Skokos said.  

Skokos’s portrayal of the Biden administration’s proposed Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) is inaccurate.  

During Pres. Barack Obama’s time in office, the EPA acknowledged the unique circumstances that North Dakota coal plants faced due to the chemistry of the deposits and the fact that these power plants are built right on top of the coal mine, eliminating the possibility that the coal could be blended with other coal to reduce emissions. As a result, the Obama EPA created separate standards for lignite plants based on these unique characteristics. 

Now, the Biden EPA is seeking to eliminate that separate standard put in place by the Obama administration and replace it with even stricter standards that may not be possible to comply with, which is why North Dakota environmental regulators have called it a death penalty for North Dakota coal.  

Furthermore, Skokos’ reference to the 1960s could not be more misleading because America has made tremendous progress in reducing mercury emissions from power plants. In fact, mercury emissions from U.S. coal plants have plummeted by 93.5 percent since 2008 (before the MATS rules were introduced in 2011 and implemented in 2015), while North Dakota’s power plants continued to produce reliable, affordable electricity.  

Mercury emissions from U.S. power plants produce less mercury than small-scale mining operations in Africa, Asia, and South America, global cement production, and even cremations, according to data provided by the United Nations. The mercury emissions from North Dakota power plants are even smaller.  

The Dakota Resource Council has a history of opposing North Dakota’s fossil fuel industry, including opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, and now it supports onerous EPA regulations that will destroy North Dakota’s coal industry. It also has a history of taking money from the Energy Foundation, which has ties to the Chinese Communist Party.  

This means losing more than 12,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state’s coal-producing region, and $104 million in state and local tax revenues to support schools and build roads and bridges.  

Closing these coal plants would weaken North Dakota and America by destroying a vital local industry and making us more reliant on unreliable wind turbines and solar panels that are frequently built using Chinese materials.  

The only people who benefit from these regulations are those with a vested interest in weakening the U.S. and strengthening our adversaries.