Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Hundreds attend EPA hearings in W.Va. about ending Obama rules on carbon emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency is holding the second of a two-day hearing today in the heart of the Appalachian coalfields over its proposal to dismantle Obama-era rules to cut carbon emissions from power plants. On the first day of the hearing, the only one the EPA has scheduled on repeal of the Clean Power Plan, more than 270 people signed up to speak, so many that the EPA broke the hearing up into three rooms over two days, Jason Schwartz reports for The New York Times.

People on both sides asked for things they likely can't have, Ken Ward Jr. reports for the Charleston Gazette-Mail: "Coal industry officials and regional political leaders spoke hopefully of a major resurgence in mining, a development most experts agree won’t happen, even with . . . carbon-pollution rules eliminated. Environmental groups, public-health officials and citizens asked the EPA not to repeal the Obama administration’s greenhouse limits, a move that is also highly unlikely, given President Donald Trump’s repeated promises to kill his predecessor’s signature climate change initiative."

Dozens of Murray Energy miners attended.
(New York Times photo by Mark Trent.)
Coal operator Robert Murray and 25 of his employees in mining gear showed up to support the proposal. Murray is a staunch Trump supporter and stands to benefit heavily from a recent EPA proposal that favors coal-fired power plants. He said the Clean Power Plan would eliminate even more coal jobs and would impose "massive costs on the power sector and American consumers," Schwartz reports.

"Scott Segal, the head of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, said the CPP is expensive and illegal because it requires some utilities to reduce emissions “beyond the fence line” or far away from the power plants themselves," Kara Van Pelt reports for Reuters.

Environmental groups and other defenders of the CPP held their own event nearby at the University of Charleston. Ben Levitan of the Environmental Defense Fund, Liz Perera of the Sierra Club and Lindsay Pace of the Moms Clean Air Force spoke about the importance of reducing greenhouse gases to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Proponents of the CPP also spoke up at the EPA hearing, Schwartz notes. Retired Kentucky coal miner and activist Stanley Sturgill, who has black lung disease, testified that repealing the CPP was "immoral and indefensible. . . . We're dying, literally dying, for you to help us."

"EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio said that the agency hasn’t yet decided whether it will schedule additional public hearings, and also hasn’t set a timeline for announcing what kind of replacement rule it will propose to meet the legal requirement — kicked in by a 2009 finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare — that it take some steps to address the issue," Ward reports.

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