Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to rethink proposed regulations on greenhouse gases emitted from power plants.
Beshear sent a letter to acting EPA administrator Bob Perciasepe last week. In the letter, Beshear says the agency’s proposed rules to limit emissions would effectively ban new coal-burning plants and raise electricity rates. He wrote:
“Our ability to continue growing our economy depends on affordable, reliable power—and this can only be guaranteed if our nation truly has a diversified portfolio that includes coal. Asking some states to dramatically alter their potential sources of fuel for generating electricity puts their citizens at a distinct economic disadvantage. However, by allowing the electric sector to employ advanced technologies, combined with state and federal research and development efforts targeted toward newer, cleaner coal-fired power generation, the nation as a whole wins.”
The EPA’s greenhouse gas rule stems from a 2007 Supreme Court decision. The court ruled that greenhouse gases—like carbon dioxide—are pollutants that are harmful to human health, and are therefore subject to regulation. Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed the endangerment finding in 2009, and the proposed standards would limit all new power plants to emissions of 1000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity produced. Existing power plants won’t have to comply, at least for now.
But the rule hasn’t been finalized yet. It was actually supposed to be finalized in April, but it now delayed. And this means that companies planning to build power plants don’t know what regulations they’ll have to comply with. Rodney Andrews of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research says this sort of regulatory uncertainty is hurting the coal industry in Kentucky.
“Every time the EPA has been ‘we’re going to do a rule on this, we’re going to do a rule on that,’ there is no fixed target for anybody to plan around,” he said. “Coal-fired power plants are very expensive. It’s not as expensive as, say, a nuclear plant, but it’s still very expensive.”