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UMW president slams proposed new EPA emissions standards

March 30th, 2012 11:01 pm by staff report

TRIANGLE, Va. — United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts takes issue with the Obama administration’s proposed emissions standards that would apply to coal-fired power plants built after the standards take effect.

Roberts said the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed New Source Performing Standards for limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-based generating units “would eliminate the construction of new advanced coal generation, which should be a cornerstone of (President Obama’s) ‘all the above’ energy policy.”

Roberts said the proposed standards depart from more than 40 years of EPA regulation of fossil fuel emissions by lumping natural gas and coal plants into a single category subject to the same performance standards.

All previous EPA regulations under the Clean Air Act set separate performance standards for coal and natural gas, recognizing their inherent differences, he said.

Natural gas plants emit about one-half the carbon dioxide of coal, Roberts said, and can meet the EPA’s proposed standards with no add-on emissions controls. Coal plants could meet the standards only if they employ carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology that is commercially unavailable.

“EPA knows very well that CCS technology has not been commercially demonstrated. But the rule it proposed (this past week) would require the potential builders of new coal plants to commit to CCS at the time of their permit applications, despite the associated costs and uncertainties,” Roberts said. “In practice, it would not be possible to finance a new coal plant to meet the proposed EPA standards.”

Roberts said his union intends to work with Congress and the EPA “to provide a workable basis for the future deployment of CCS that does not hinder the nation’s ability to use its most abundant fossil fuel resource.”

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