Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Some in coal industry relieved about EPA proposal; emission reductions vary widely by state

Some coal executives have privately expressed relief about the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rules cutting carbon dioxide from coal-fired plants by 30 percent by 2030, saying the rules are not as bad as they had feared, Alicia Mundy and John Miller report for The Wall Street Journal.

The industry feared the proposed rules would measure emission reductions from as recently as 2012 as opposed to the 2005 date the industry was hoping for and got, "since emissions from electric plants have dropped since then," the Journal reports. Still, Washington-based lawyer Scott Segal, who works with coal-fired power plants, told the Journal, "This rule could have been a whole lot worse. But as it is, it will still inflict considerable economic harm for little or no benefit." (Read more)

The rules vary by state. For example, South Carolina will be required to cut emissions from 1,587 pounds per megawatt hour in 2012 to the proposed figure of 772 lb/MWh in 2030, a reduction of 51.3 percent, according to EPA's "Clean Power Plan." Arkansas will be required to cut emissions by 44 percent, Tennessee by 38 percent, Virginia by 37.5 percent, Illinois by 33 percent and Pennsylvania by 31 percent. Here's a state-by-state list.

The numbers are lower in states with high rates of carbon dioxide emissions, such as Kentucky, which will only have to reduce emissions 18 percent. Indiana will be required to cut emissions by 22 percent, West Virginia by 23 percent and Ohio by 27 percent. For state-by-state proposals click here.

Some Democratic candidates fear the rules could have major implications on elections. "The National Republican Senatorial Committee announced that it would use the decision against vulnerable Democrats with automated calls on Tuesday, hitting voice-mail boxes in Virginia, Louisiana, Colorado and Alaska—all states where Democratic senators are seeking reelection," Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson report for The Washington Post. "The committee will also target Northern Virginia swing voters, Gulf Coast residents, and independents in Colorado and Alaska, a committee spokeswoman said."

In response, some Democratic candidates have been quick to criticize the rules, including Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who is running for an open U.S. Senate seat. Rep. Nick J. Rahall II (D-W.Va.), who is running for re-election, has also said he will introduce legislation blocking the rules. Those states are the two that get more than 90 percent of their electricity from coal. (Read more)

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