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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid