News / Science & Technology

Proposed Pollution Rules Rattle US Power Industry

Proposed Pollution Rules Rattle US Power Industryi
X
Rosanne Skirble
November 20, 2013 4:20 AM
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just wrapped up a nationwide tour to solicit comments as it develops rules to impose stricter clean air standards on coal-fired power plants. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports from the final listening session in Washington.

Proposed Pollution Rules Rattle US Power Industry

Rosanne Skirble
— In a march toward the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, D.C., a coalition of environment groups and citizen activists rallied for new safeguards on power plants.

“We have to limit the causes of climate change," said marcher Molly Rauch, "and carbon pollution from power plants is one of the main causes of this problem.”  

Inside a packed hearing room, Rauch, who works on air quality issues for Moms Clean Air Force, a national nonprofit, sat at a desk facing EPA officials while holding up a picture of her children.

“This is why I’m here today, and I’m sure you have children who you love in your life," Rauch said. "If we continue to allow carbon pollution to be spewed into the air unchecked, we will be leaving our children with an uncertain, unhealthy and unsafe future.”  

Listening tour

The hearing wrapped up the EPA's nationwide tour to solicit comments as the agency develops rules to impose stricter clean air standards on coal-fired power plants.
Brian Patton, president of the James River Coal Company, testifies alongside U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. Both represent coal interests in Kentucky. (A. Greenbaum/VOA)Brian Patton, president of the James River Coal Company, testifies alongside U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. Both represent coal interests in Kentucky. (A. Greenbaum/VOA)
x
Brian Patton, president of the James River Coal Company, testifies alongside U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. Both represent coal interests in Kentucky. (A. Greenbaum/VOA)
Brian Patton, president of the James River Coal Company, testifies alongside U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. Both represent coal interests in Kentucky. (A. Greenbaum/VOA)
America’s 1,000 coal-fired power plants supply 40 percent of the nation’s electricity and account for one-third of the polluting emissions, which the Obama Climate Action Plan has promised to curtail.

The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell from Kentucky, came to  support his home state, which is a big coal producer.  

“By now, it is clear that this administration and your agency have declared a war on coal," McConnell said. "For Kentucky, this means a war on jobs and on our state's economy.”

Human hardship

Brian Patton, who comes from a long line of Kentucky coal miners and today is president of James River Coal, told EPA officials that his company has laid off 725 workers over the past six months. He fears new rules could bring even greater hardship to an already economically depressed area.   

“Understand these are communities of just 1,000, 2,000 people, 3,000 people and when you have that type of an economic impact due to regulations, many of which are regulations that come from Washington, D.C., that have very little understanding of what the outcome is for the local folks," Patton said, "for folks that get up and go to work every day and what that impact will be for their families in the future, and that’s wrong.”

LISTEN: Proposed Pollution Rules Rattle US Power Industry
Proposed Pollution Rules Rattle US Power Industry i
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Scott Segal, who directs the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, an industry trade group, warned restrictive measures would force plants to close, spur job loss, and cut what is now reliable and affordable energy for millions of people.

“The downside consequences of reduced electric reliability or even increased rates in the United States, have a real human face," Segal said. "I’m not just talking about folks who mine coal and communities that mine coal or that produce natural gas. I’m talking about individuals living in big cities that can’t heat their home in the winter or that can’t cool their home off sufficiently in the summer. These have real human health impacts.”

Segal added that it would make more sense for public health and the planet for the EPA to enforce energy efficiency and pollution controls already on the books.

“If we impose a unilateral rule, the ironic impact may be to actually increase the carbon burden of this globe by shifting the manufacturing of goods to places that are frankly less energy efficient than the United States,” Segal said.  

Regulating carbon

David Doniger, a climate policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the nation’s largest environmental groups, countered that it is the EPA’s job to regulate carbon as a pollutant and to formulate new standards that would shift the United States to a cleaner energy economy. 
A coalition of environmental groups rally at US Environmental Protection Agency headquarters for stricter rules on limiting carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. (A. Greenbaum/VOA)A coalition of environmental groups rally at US Environmental Protection Agency headquarters for stricter rules on limiting carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. (A. Greenbaum/VOA)
x
A coalition of environmental groups rally at US Environmental Protection Agency headquarters for stricter rules on limiting carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. (A. Greenbaum/VOA)
A coalition of environmental groups rally at US Environmental Protection Agency headquarters for stricter rules on limiting carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. (A. Greenbaum/VOA)

“No one is proposing standards that would knock out all those power plants," Doniger said. "We’re talking about a shift from the dirtier ones to the cleaner ones, and from all those fossil fuel-powered ones towards renewable and even nuclear sources of energy.”

Doniger said such a systems-based approach - running the cleaner plants more and the dirtier ones less - could reduce emissions by 25 percent by 2020. Simply put, he says, more efficient plants cost less to run.  

“It’s a better deal for the customers of the power companies," he said. "It’s a better deal for us as citizens, and the ones who might lose are the ones who are invested in some of the oldest and dirtiest plants."

Doniger said protecting the oldest and dirtiest plants is not the EPA’s mandate - protecting clean air is.      

“That’s the only way that we can continue to have the way of life we want without running into the wall on climate change impacts, which in turn will come back and destroy the quality of life we have,” Doniger said.

The EPA is now considering comments from the nationwide hearings and will issue proposed standards in June. The stricter rules will help the Obama Administration meet its pledge to reduce carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 17 percent by the end of the decade.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
November 20, 2013 3:56 AM
It is actually confirmed that the concentration of Co2 in the air has been increased recent years around the world and it could probably be due to overuse of fossile energy. Yet, what I think we should pay more attention to is the concentration of O2 because it is more vital for us animals. Recent advanced technogy is disclosing that it is gradually decreasing to below 20 percent.. Do not you feel it is more fearful for us than Co2 increace? What is the cause of O2 decreace? If we stop fire power plants, does O2 maintain its concentration? If so, we should boost more strict pollution rules as quickly as possible. Thank you.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid