By Nathan Jeffers
WEST VIRGINIA — U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and AEP have recently issued statements regarding the EPA’s new standards for coal-fired power plants.
On Wednesday Dec. 21, Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator, reported that these news standards would require coal-fired power plants to reduce toxic emissions. She also stated these new standards would create many new jobs, some temporary construction jobs, and some long-term jobs to operate and maintain the new upgrades.
“I have serious concerns about the new Clean Air rules being issued by EPA,” Rahall said. “In fact, I have voted in Congress to prevent their implementation in the near term. The rules are likely to drive up energy prices for American consumers and result in the loss of jobs for coal miners while doing nothing to address the growth in global emissions. It certainly makes more sense to me to be investing in American-made technologies to help American utilities upgrade to more efficient, cleaner ways of using domestic coal, rather than putting the rule-making hammer to American plants and forcing our coal to be shipped overseas where emissions will be even greater. From the standpoint for sufficiency of our energy supply and protection of our global atmosphere, we ought to be looking creatively at coal power, rather than instituting policies that force coal out of our energy sector.”
AEP is in favor of reducing toxic emissions, but asks that the deadline be extended. By extending the deadline, AEP believes that these upgrades can be installed in a way that will ensure the lowest cost possible and without endangering the energy supply. With more time to coordinate such upgrades, certain projects will be more cost efficient, construction schedules and the closing of older plants can be better planned, and the communities will have to time to respond.
In addition to AEP, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin believes an extension of the deadline will be very beneficial. Manchin, along with U.S. Senator Dan Coats (R- Ind.), has been working on the Fair Compliance Act of 2011. This bill, which they introduced in Nov., will extend the deadline for power plants to meet these new regulations, and possibly avoid increasing utility rates and prevent job losses.
“(The) announcement of yet another onerous rule by the EPA completely ignores the devastating impact these regulations will have on jobs and our economy, not only in West Virginia but across this nation,” Manchin said. “I believe we can find a responsible and reasonable balance when it comes to the environment and our energy needs as a nation. My desire to achieve this balance is why my Republican colleague Dan Coats of Indiana and I introduced the Fair Compliance Act - a commonsense, bipartisan piece of legislation that would create a fair time-frame to comply with new rules. I hope that Congress will address these regulations, and take up the Fair Compliance Act as soon as possible, to prevent the potential loss of a million jobs, increased utility rates, and more damage to our economy.”
The Fair Compliance Act would extend the deadline for power plants from Jan. 1, 2015, to Jan. 1, 2017. By this date, the plants must either install the emission controls, or close down.
For more information regarding the new power plant standards, visit www.epa.gov/mats. For more information on AEP’s position, go to www.aep.com/environmental/NewEPARules. More information can also be found on-line about the Fair Compliance Act of 2011.