Coal states feeling left out of CO2 process, regional approach

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) as a model for a cost-effective carbon dioxide reduction, coal-heavy states fear they will be they will be excluded from such groups.

Coal-fired power plants account for about 95% of West Virginia’s electricity. “Who is going to want to be in my regional alliance?” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Va.) said Feb. 11.

Capito made the remark during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan.

Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and others praised RGGI as an effective multi-state approach to cutting CO2 effectively. Critics, however, have said that states with heavy carbon footprints are going to have a tough time finding partners to help them reduce CO2 30% by 2030.

Capito used the occasion to again question why EPA has failed to hold a field hearing on the carbon rule in a major coal-producing state. Capito also indicated that she was terribly satisfied with answers given by Acting EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Janet McCabe.

McCabe said EPA held regional meetings in bigger cities that tended to be easy for many people to reach and that also had EPA offices to reduce costs. Capito indicated she was not overly impressed with the EPA response. McCabe did also note that she hails from the coal-producing state of Indiana.

Meanwhile, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said he is still seeking more documents to reveal how much input groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) had on the CO2 plan, even before the rule was formally proposed in June.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said he was born in West Virginia, so he can appreciate the anxiety in states where carbon plays a large role in the economy. On the other hand, Delaware is perhaps the most low-lying state in the nation and susceptible to rising ocean levels, Carper said.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) said Nebraska has only public power providers. As a result, Nebraska utilities are required by law to deliver least cost electricity and have already implemented many heat rate improvements called for in the EPA proposal.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.