EPA’s Proposed Regulations Will Stifle Technologies That Allow Continued Use of Abundant, Affordable Coal
Coal is America’s most abundant fossil fuel energy source and, historically, our most consistently affordable. It can and must continue to play a vital role in the nation’s energy future, with advancing technology assuring us of cleaner-burning coal to address environmental concerns.
Despite these technological advances and cleaner coal burning technologies, the most common use of coal in America – electricity generation – could be brought to a halt by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) new source performance standard (NSPS) regulations for new fossil fuel-based electric generating sources.
These regulations threaten to stifle technological advancement and make coal unusable for power generation in either existing or new power plants – a matter of tremendous importance to a nation that generates 43 percent of its electricity using coal. This could leave business, industrial and residential consumers open to surges in power costs when, inevitably, the cost of natural gas rises.
The EPA is proposing standards unprecedented under the Clean Air Act, effectively banning construction of new coal-fired power plants. It requires that all future plants using fossil fuels—coal or gas—emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour. Even the most modern, efficient coal boiler emits 1,800 pounds, while combined cycle natural gas turbines come in barely under that threshold. This is simply a matter of regulatory policy favoring natural gas as an electricity generator and ignoring the promise that new technology holds for cleaner-burning coal.
The regulations also will prevent upgrades of existing plants to improve efficiency and facilitate more electricity generation with less fuel and less emissions. This will cost America opportunities to provide economic stimulus through new manufacturing and construction jobs.
The goal of near-zero emissions from coal is within sight. New technologies will allow us to modernize the existing coal-fueled generation fleet, improving efficiency and reducing emissions while continuing to produce low-cost electricity.
With innovation and technological advances, America can continue to use coal and continue to lower emissions at the same time.