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Coal Industry Heads Meet To Discuss EPA Rules

Reported: May. 9, 2014 5:25 PM EDT
Updated: May. 9, 2014 11:46 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) - As layoffs in Nicholas County are announced, Big Coal is coming to grips with potentially tighter EPA emissions standards and focusing on the future of the state's biggest industry.

Friday was the last day to provide comment on the new source performance standard greenhouse gas rule. Coal leaders in both Kentucky and West Virginia said the Obama administration's new emission standards, will make it virtually impossible to build any new coal-fired power plants.

When it comes to coal in West Virginia, there's no middle ground.

"You either support the production and usage of coal or you don't," Bill Bissett, President of the Kentucky Coal Association, said.

And with the Obama Administration's proposed new rule, coal-fired power plants in five states: WV, OH, KY, VA & PA are in jeopardy.

"It's gonna harm our manufacturing jobs we've been able to hang onto during this economic downturn," Bissett said.

"They set a standard for control of carbon dioxide that is unrealistic, practically impossible because there is not technology to achieve the standard that is set forth in this rule for a new power plant that wants to be constructed or would plant to be constructed next year," Bill Rainey, President of the West Virginia Coal Association, said.

Presidents of the West Virginia and Kentucky Coal Associations met in Charleston, with representatives from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the State's Division Of Energy. The new rule may not kill, but will significantly diminish the chances, for any new clean-coal plants to ever be constructed again in the U.S.

"This is going to greatly affect the economies of West Virginia and Kentucky,” Bissett said. “What the President is doing, really through executive action, and without the support of Congress or the people of Kentucky, is moving this country away from coal by any means necessary."

Which they claim will be the end of low-cost electricity. Power bills will go up, with plants scheduled to be shuttered by this time next year, they said.

"This affects newly-constructed power plants or ones that are being planned,” Rainey said. “There's nothing planned to replace these plants that are coming offline."

"We are hopeful, that enough states, especially coal-dependent states like West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, will have enough gravitas, enough weight to their comments, to at least have the EPA make a meaningful change, to the standard and hopefully turn it around,” Fred Durham, Acting Director of the West Virginia Division Of Air Quality, said. ”If not, then we might have to pursue litigation in the future."

Eyewitness News reached out to representatives from Coal River Mountain Watch, who are opposed to coal-fired plants and mountaintop coal removal. Their website, located at http://crmw.net, lists everything from coal ash, sludge and dust, to other by-products from these plants as serious health dangers.

Still, the EPA's proposal to limit carbon pollution from new power plants got more than two and a half million comments, so now the agency wants to create separate standards for natural-gas fired turbines and coal-fired units. The EPA is expected to release its new emission standards by the end of this month.




CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Elizabeth Noreika) -- A meeting was held in Charleston Friday, as leaders in the coal industry weigh in on possible new restrictions from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Friday was the last day to provide comment on the new source performance standard greenhouse gas rule.

The presidents of the West Virginia and Kentucky coal associations met with representatives of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the state's Division of Energy.

Both associations said the Obama administration's new emission standards will make it virtually impossible to build any new coal-fired power plants.

“They set a standard for control of carbon dioxide that is unrealistic, practically impossible because there is not technology to achieve the standard that is set forth in this rule for a new power plant that wants to be constructed or would plant to be constructed next year,” Bill Raney, of the West Virginia Coal Association said.

After getting more than two and a half million comments about the agency's proposal to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, the EPA is now wanting to create separate standards for natural-gas fired turbines and coal-fired units.

The EPA is expected to release its new emission standards by the end of the month.



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