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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
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.

All About America

AppleAndroid