Lignite Energy Council head criticizes EPA’s CO2 control plans

11/04/13 (Mon)

Jason Bohrer, president and chief executive officer of the Lignite Energy Council, used his three minutes of testimony at the Environmental Protect Agency’s Region 8 listening session to talk about the economic benefits the lignite industry provides to North Dakota and surrounding states. He also addressed the limitations of current technologies to capture carbon dioxide from existing coal-based power plants.

The EPA is holding 11 listening session to gather feedback on potential carbon emissions limits for existing power plants. The session at the EPA’s Region 8 offices in Denver was held Wednesday, October 30, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hundreds of people attended the listening session and many of them spoke – including representatives from several utilities with coal-based power plants in North Dakota.

“The message from the Lignite Energy Council centered on several important topics,” Bohrer said. “The lignite industry is important to the state and its citizens because it has been one of the most stable economic drivers. Salaries of coal miners are on average double the average wage in the state and the industry provides about $100 million to the state treasury every year.”

Bohrer also noted that electricity from the state’s coal-based power plants provide affordable and reliable electricity to approximately two million customers in a four-state area. North Dakota is also one of only seven states in the nation to meet all ambient air quality standards partly because of the investments made by the utilities in emission controls at the power plants.

In September, the EPA introduced standards for new power plants that would require carbon capture and sequestration technology to meet the proposed level for CO2 emissions. A proposal for existing plants is due in June 2015.

“The EPA’s rules for new plants are based on technology that is still in the development stages,” Bohrer said at the EPA hearing. “The rules for existing plants need to better reflect reality.”

He then urged the EPA not to force states to adopt greenhouse gas performance standards that are not based on adequately demonstrated technology.