It looks like Santa might have trouble gathering up enough coal to put in the stockings of naughty boys and girls next year thanks to a controversial new regulation the EPA put in place this past week.

The agency completed it’s first federal coal ash rule which will regulate how coal companies dispose of the waste that results from burning coal.

According to Bloomberg News:

The final rule, issued under a court-approved settlement, requires the closure of surface impoundments and landfills that fail to meet engineering and structural standards, mandates regular inspections of surface impoundments, limits where new structures can be built and requires immediate cleanup and closure of unlined impoundments that are polluting groundwater.

Promulgated under Subtitle D of RCRA, the rule also requires the use of fugitive dust controls to limit windblown coal ash dust, mandates liner barriers for new impoundments and calls for proper closure of structures that are no longer receiving coal ash.

While this may sound harmless, like many EPA regulations are designed to do, this regulation will have major bottom line ramifications on the coal industry.

The rule will cost the coal industry an estimated $735 million dollars in a business climate that is already more hostile to coal companies than it’s ever been.  Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office doubled the predicted number of coal power plants that are expected to close in the next 10 years because of new EPA regulations.

The EPA claims that these “safeguards” will provide an economic benefit of $289 million per year.  However, according to their own data, that benefit is outweighed by the negative monetary impact.

Believe it or not, this rule is not enough to satisfy some environmental activists who would prefer the agency issue a more intrusive ruling.   Scott Slesinger, legislative director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the Daily Caller, “The EPA is bowing to coal-fired utilities’ interests and putting the public at great risk by treating toxic coal ash as simple garbage instead of the hazardous waste that it is.” He added, “Too much of the agency’s new rule is left to the discretion of states, which all too often have favored powerful utility companies instead of the public.”

Since President Obama took office, the EPA has issued over 3,000 new final regulations and that number is growing every month.  Not only has the financial impact of these regulations been great but they have cost an already stagnant economy thousands of jobs in some of the countries poorest regions.

The newly elected Republican led Congress has promised to push back against this growing trend but it remains to be seen if they can do anything about it.  One thing is clear, these burdensome regulations are causing real world negative consequences across the board.

– Andrew Mark Miller