The Times West Virginian

Headline News

September 19, 2013

Obama officials: Coal has future

To remain ‘significant source of energy for decades to come’

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s top energy and environmental officials said Wednesday there is a future for coal, despite a pending regulation aimed at limiting global warming pollution from new power plants that Republicans and the coal industry say will doom the fuel source.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, questioned at a House hearing, both said coal-fired power would continue. Coal makes up about 40 percent of U.S. electricity.

“The rule will provide certainty for the future of new coal moving forward, and in terms of existing facilities, coal will continue to represent a significant source of energy for decades to come,” said McCarthy, who did not disclose specifics.

The EPA is under a Friday deadline to release an updated proposal that would set the first-ever limits on carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, from new power plants.  

The rule, which will ultimately force the EPA to tackle emissions from existing power plants as well, is a key component of Obama’s strategy to tackle climate change. It is also one of the most controversial, since it addresses one of the largest uncontrolled sources of carbon pollution and will have ramifications for the power sector and everyone who flips on a light switch.

The latest version of the proposal, which updates one released in March 2012, is likely to be more lenient on coal-burning plants than it was initially, but it will still make it very difficult for energy companies to build new coal-fired plants in the U.S. New natural gas power plants will also be covered, but since gas is a cleaner-burning fuel than coal, they will be able to meet the emissions standard more easily.

For coal-fired power plants, the new proposal will eventually require the installation of technology to capture carbon and bury it underground. Not a single power plant in the U.S. has done that, largely because it has not been available commercially and, if it were, it would be expensive.

“It is a signal that we are not going to build a new coal-fired power plant,” said Rep. John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican.

In his opening remarks, Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky, said that the U.S. would become the first country in the world to ban new coal-fired power.

But when asked directly by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., about whether DOE and EPA saw a future for coal, even in light of new greenhouse gas regulations on power plants, both Moniz and McCarthy answered “yes.”

Moniz said the Energy Department had billions of dollars to dole out to help energy companies to figure out new ways to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants, including so-called carbon capture and sequestration technology. McCarthy mentioned four plants, including one being constructed in Mississippi by Southern Co., that plan on deploying the technology.

“This was an issue that was heavily discussed,” said McCarthy, referring to the feasibility of capturing and storing carbon.

The coal industry and its allies in Congress had been quick to criticize the regulation in advance of its release, even though some of the details have yet to be disclosed, saying it will raise electricity prices and the cost of producing power, particularly from coal.

“With EPA regulations set to be released that, if reports are correct, will essentially halt all new coal plants. ... Americans should be reminded of coal’s importance to our future,” said the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity in a statement issued Wednesday.

Coal, long before the new EPA regulations, has been struggling to compete with natural gas, which has seen historic low prices in recent years thanks to a boom brought on by hydraulic fracturing.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, meanwhile, said the proposal was a step toward ending an era when power plants were allowed to dump limitless amounts of carbon pollution into the air. The group had threatened to sue the EPA when it failed to finalize the March 2012 proposal within a year but decided against pursuing litigation when Obama vowed to take action on climate.

Obama has given the EPA until next summer to propose a rule controlling heat-trapping pollution at existing power plants.

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race

    The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week.
    The actions of the man, whose mother said he had a mental disorder, rattled nerves as Boston prepared for the annual race, but authorities said they did not consider it a security breach.

    April 17, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing anniversary

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014

  • Questions linger year after Boston Marathon bombs

    A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded.

    April 15, 2014

  • Little sign of progress as Obama, Putin speak

    Speaking for the first time in more than two weeks, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin showed little sign of agreement Monday, with the U.S. leader urging pro-Russian forces to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine and Putin denying that Moscow was interfering in the region.

    April 15, 2014

  • 3 dead after suburban Kansas City shooting

    A man opened fire outside a Jewish community center on Sunday, killing two people before driving over to a retirement community a few blocks away and killing someone else, authorities said.

    April 14, 2014

  • Couple: Truck was on fire before deadly bus crash

    A couple said a FedEx tractor-trailer was already on fire when it careened across a median, sideswiped their car and slammed into a bus carrying high school students, adding a new twist to the investigation of a crash that killed 10 people.
    Initial reports by police indicated the truck swerved to avoid a sedan that was traveling in the same direction in this town about 100 miles north of Sacramento, then went across the median. There was no mention of the truck being on fire.

    April 13, 2014

  • ‘Obamacare’ under attack as conservatives eye 2016

    Republicans eyeing the 2016 White House race battered President Barack Obama’s health care law and nicked each other Saturday, auditioning before a high-profile gathering of conservatives that some political veterans said marked the campaign’s unofficial start.

    April 13, 2014

  • Finance officials: Global economy turns the corner

    The world’s top finance officials expressed confidence Saturday that the global economy finally has turned the corner to stronger growth. This time, they may be right.
    Despite challenges that include market jitters about the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying slowdown and global tensions over Ukraine, policymakers said they believe there is a foundation for sustained growth that can provide jobs for the millions of people still looking for work five years after the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    April 13, 2014

  • There’s a new ‘face,’ but old problems for health care law

    Abruptly on the spot as the new face of “Obamacare,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell faces steep challenges, both logistical and political.
    Burwell, until now White House budget director, was named by President Barack Obama on Friday to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who oversaw the messy rollout of the health care overhaul.

    April 12, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads