On Fox News yesterday, anchor Megyn Kelly started a segment on EPA air quality regulations with an outright lie:
“Coal industry groups sounding the alarm today that a fifth of America’s electricity generating capacity is about to be taken offline thanks to new federal regulations. They say that this will lead to wide spread power outages, rolling blackouts, job losses and skyrocketing energy costs.”
We know where this “fair and balanced” debate is going. Viewers don’t even need to watch the rest of the debate to know that the Environmental Protection Agency is already at your neighborhood coal plant pulling the plug.
Firstly, 20 percent of capacity is not going to get shut down. The Bi-Partisan Policy Center, FERC, and the Congressional Research Service all say the industry estimates are vastly overstated. In fact, a major group of progressive utilities already investing in renewables and more natural gas — the clean energy group — say that over 60% of coal plants that have submitted data on their emissions already meet the standards.
In fact, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission puts this figure at about 3.5 to 7 percent.
An analysis from the Center for American Progress shows that in 17 states, around half of capacity is already equipped with pollutions controls to meet air quality standards.
And coal plants are not “about to be taken offline.” The industry has had a full decade to prepare for these rules. Yes, they’ve been in the works for 10 years now. And if they get passed, the industry will have another 3 years to prepare for them.
On top of that, we already have enough natural gas capacity in place today to meet the most aggressive scenarios for plant closures. Some of that capacity isn’t exactly where you need it — but natural gas and renewable energy facilities can be developed in a matter of months, not multiple years. As the Bipartisan Policy Center explains, “drastic consequences” touted by the coal industry are “unlikely to occur.”
These rules simply will not create the kind of chaos that opponents are claiming. But with Fox News sounding the industry’s false alarm without question, they have an easy way to spread these lies.