Clean Air Blog - October 26th, 2011

Alaska: State Denies Petition to Make Coal Mining in Chuitna River Watershed Off Limits

The state has denied a petition to put all coal mining off limits on land within the Chuitna River watershed. Department of Natural Resources commissioner Dan Sullivan says the decision is not a “green light” for mining, but it does indicate that reclamation of areas affected by strip coal mining is feasible.

Full Story (Via Alaska Public)

Michigan: Energy Experts Say EPA Regs Will Shut Down Coal Plants

The Institute for Energy Research projected that coal plants in Lansing, Litchfield and Holland would “likely” be shut down due to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations by 2016. The three Michigan plants were part of a nationwide look at coal plants expected to be impacted by new regulations recently enacted or proposed by the EPA.

Ten percent of the country’s coal energy capacity is expected to go offline by 2016, according to the Institute for Energy Research.

The country gets 60 percent and Michigan gets 66 percent of energy from coal-fired power plants, according to Russ Harding, senior environmental policy analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Harding said new and proposed EPA regulations could lead to brownouts and interruptions of power once coal plants start shutting down.

Recent EPA regulations on carbon dioxide and mercury, as well as a proposed regulation on fly ash, will start shutting down plants within four years as the cost becomes too much to meet the new standards, Harding said.

“A lot of the older plants will shut down because it won’t be cost effective to put all the controls in place,” Harding said. “It will also discourage any construction of any new coal-fired power plants.”

Read More (Via CAPCON)


Illinois: Tenaska's coal plant project heading to Senate

SPRINGFIELD -- A proposal by Tenaska Energy to build a $3.5 billion electric generating plant in Taylorville, Ill., near Springfield, fueled by gas produced from coal, is headed to the Senate for the second time.

The proposal has been on the table in various forms since 2008, but didn't make its way to the floor until this year's spring session when it was approved by the House and failed in the Senate.

Through legislation, the project's developers are asking legislators to force the state's utilities to purchase the plant's output for the next 30 years, a tact that two other coal-to-gas developers used last session with success.
A bulked up version of that bill that includes additional provisions to allow the Illinois Power Agency, which procures power for the state, to purchase renewable energy, energy efficiency and distributed electric generation, passed the Senate Executive Committee Tuesday afternoon and will next arrive on the Senate floor.

Read More (Via Chicago Tribune)


Florida: EPA is taking constructive action on coal

Gwen Keyes Fleming, regional administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4, Atlanta

A Florida Times-Union article reported on concerns that the Obama administration is demanding power companies switch from coal to natural gas quickly, whether the pipeline infrastructure to deliver the gas is in place or not.

The article also indicated that the Environmental Protection Agency is gearing up to impose stiff penalties on coal plants, presumably to help force a switch to natural gas.

Neither of these claims is true.

Flexible standards
We have worked hard at EPA to design a pollution control program for coal-fired power plants that provides companies with the flexibility they need to meet basic air quality standards.

For example, in order to comply with EPA rules, one coal-fired power plant may choose to keep burning coal and install pollution control equipment while another may choose to switch to natural gas to reduce harmful pollution.

In addition to protecting Americans' health, our rules will spur job creation with cleaner energy investments that will keep people working and create jobs.

Money spent on pollution controls at power plants spurs high quality American manufacturing jobs and creates opportunities for workers to operate and maintain pollution control equipment.

Many of these are jobs that cannot be shipped overseas.

Under the Obama administration, we have seen historic progress at EPA in developing common-sense solutions for reducing harmful pollution from coal-fired power plants.

These new rules will bring our aging power production fleet up to speed through the installation of modern pollution control technologies.

Read More (Via The Florida Times-Union)