PA Coal Alliance calls for flexibility in setting emission standards

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance today called for federal regulators to allow states some flexibility in developing emission standards in order to strike an appropriate balance between environmental improvements and economic concerns.

John Pippy, alliance CEO, said Pennsylvania is one of several energy-producing states that will be disproportionately harmed if regulators impose emission standards that are not attainable with current technology. His comments came during a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “listening session.”

Pippy said 300 coal-fired power plants in 33 states already have been forced to close, and taking coal entirely out of the nation’s energy mix would have a negative impact on employment, the economy, electricity prices and the reliability of the power grid.

He noted that the coal industry supports nearly 42,000 jobs and contributes $7 billion annually to the economy in Pennsylvania. Taxes on mining jobs generate $700 million annually at the federal, state and local levels, he said.

“Ironically, the recently proposed EPA carbon emission standards will do little to curb carbon emissions globally, since developing countries such as China and India burn many times more coal than the U.S. and will continue to do so, to the detriment of U.S. competitiveness,” Pippy said. 

He called on the federal government to work collaboratively with energy stakeholders, as the government did with the auto industry in order to improve fuel efficiency and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

In addition to providing states with some flexibility in developing emission standards, Pippy said a reasoned approach to environmental and energy policies would not interfere with the generation of affordably priced, reliably generated electricity. Moreover, the standards should not cause additional plant closures, and they should remove barriers to energy efficiency at power plants, which enable reductions in emissions.

“Environmental quality is important to everyone, including the coal industry,” Pippy said. “We don’t need to choose between jobs, the economy, affordable energy, a stable electric grid and a clean environment. We can have all of those things if we work collaboratively to forge rational energy and environmental policies.”