States move to blunt Obama carbon plan

State officials say new federal regulations could jeopardize jobs and drive up electric bills
Associated Press
Jun 1, 2014

As President Barack Obama prepares to announce tougher new air quality standards, lawmakers in several states already are trying to blunt the impact on aging coal-fired power plants that feed electricity to millions of consumers.

The push against Obama's new carbon emission standards has been strongest in some states that have large coal-mining industries or rely heavily on coal to fuel their electricity. State officials say the new federal regulations could jeopardize the jobs of thousands of workers and drive up the monthly electric bills of residents and businesses.

It remains to be seen whether new measures passed by the states will amount to mere political symbolism or actually temper what's expected to be an aggressive federal effort to reduce the country's reliance on coal. But either way, states likely will play a pivotal role, because federal clean air laws leave it up to each state to come up its own plan for complying with the emission guidelines.

The proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules to be announced Monday could be the first to apply to carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants. Coal is the most common fuel source for the nation's electricity and, when it's burned, is a leading source of the greenhouse gasses that trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.

Without waiting to see what Obama proposes, governors in Kansas, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia have signed laws directing their environmental agencies to develop their own carbon emission plans that consider the costs of compliance at individual power plants. Similar measures recently passed in Missouri and are pending in the Louisiana and Ohio legislatures.

Missouri lawmakers went even further in their defense of the coal industry. When activists proposed a ballot initiative barring local tax breaks for St. Louis-based Peabody Energy, state lawmakers quickly passed a measure banning such moves.

Some states have specifically empowered local regulators to develop emission plans that are less stringent than federal guidelines. According to measures passed recently, the state policies are to take into account the "unreasonable cost" of reducing emissions based on a plant's age and design and the "economic impacts" of shutting down particular power plants.

"The concern is that the federal standards — if they come out the way that most people expect them to — are going to drive the cost of electricity up for every single consumer in the state," said Missouri state Rep. Todd Richardson, a Republican.

Eighty-three percent of Missouri's electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, the fifth highest percentage nationally behind West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming and Indiana.

Federal emission regulations already allow flexibility for states if they can demonstrate costs would be unreasonable for particular facilities. But a spokesman for the EPA's Midwestern region, which oversees several states that rely predominantly on coal for their electricity, said he's unaware of that provision ever being used.

It's unlikely that the Obama administration would essentially undercut its new carbon emission standards by granting widespread exceptions, said Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, which represents air pollution control agencies in 42 states and 116 metropolitan areas.

If a state doesn't comply with EPA guidelines, the federal agency can create its own plan for the state.

"This is not a standard that a state then can willy-nilly ignore," Becker said. "It's going to have to achieve at least that standard or more. Period."

In many Midwestern states, the drive to constrain the new federal emission standards has been supported by an electric industry that has a large financial stake in coal.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback held a ceremonial signing in April for legislation allowing the state to set "flexible" standards for carbon dioxide emissions. He held the event in Holcomb at the proposed site of a new $2.8 billion, coal-fired power plant being pursued by Sunflower Electric Power Corp.

The legislation "is an effort by us to be able to handle issues at the state level, instead of being dictated, one size fits all, nationally," Brownback said. He added: "We will see how effective it is."

 

Comments

downthemiddle

What's the surprise..? Obama stood there and said that "electricity bills will necessarily skyrocket".

You voted for it.

From the Grave

Blunt

SamAdams

Obama is an idiot on a fool's mission. But downthemiddle has it exaactly right: Obama warned us, and he did it with a smile on his face like gouging Americans was a GOOD thing. And a host of idealistic voters bought it. Too bad they won't be the only ones to suffer once they get exactly what they voted for and realize it's not quite what they wanted after all!

downthemiddle

"If you open a coal fired electric plant, you'll go bankrupt"

YYYAAAAYYYY !!! More!! I'm votin' for that guy!!

The Big Dog's back

sam, could you explain to me why you and others like you hate the next generation. You feel that this earth was made for you and people like you, and I'm refraining from using the right wing___ word, to use and dispose of.

downthemiddle

We don't hate the next generation, we pity it. the obamalibs are taxing pollution (to fund welfare) while the third world pumps out pollution. Please explain to me how taxing pollution in the U.S. makes the air in China any cleaner.

If the goal is clean air, I've gotta quote Hilary here... "what difference does it make?"

The Big Dog's back

It's our business people who went to China to avoid regulations. Should we execute them?

coasterfan

Pollution-making companies SHOULD be taxed. It costs money to clean up the mess they create. Would you rather that we send the invoice directly to YOU, or to the people causing the problem?

SamAdams

Directly or indirectly, the invoice IS coming right to us. You can't pretend otherwise if electric bills double, now, CAN you?

downthemiddle

Sam... correct. Apparently coastie can't comprehend that.

He believes that ''free stuff" falls from the sky, like manna.

Contango

Re: "Pollution-making companies SHOULD be taxed."

To a co. a tax is a pass-through. It's added to the cost of their product or service.

Co. don't pay taxes, the end user does.

The left wing extremists of the EPA declared CO2 a pollutant.

KnuckleDragger

You mean the same pollution spewing businesses that you old farts didn't care less about when you were pocketing your inflated wages? Funny how you guys don't care how this affects jobs or businesses now that you are retired and "got yours."

JACKEL

Hey Dog, It is not the next generation we don't like, it is fools like you that are led by fools like him. NASA Scientists that are retired and can speak the truth without Bozo having them fired,say it all another attempt to bankrupt this country !

8ballinthesidepocket

How can anybody with an ounce of grey matter be that naive? Most, if not all, the US companies that have plants in China conform to US EPA and OSHA standards. Where do you come up with this crap that companies go there to avoid environmental issues? You cannot name one US company that operates in China that violates any US regulation, just typical liberal drivel not based on fact. Why don't get some facts before you engage your keyboard because you could not be further from the truth.

sugar

I just hope taking back the Senate in November will blunt Obama. And here we are with the bought scientist Tyson spewing his garbage on Cosmos. I normally enjoy science programs, this bozos ideology ruined it for me.

Maggdi

Sorry Sugar. Way too late for short term mitigation. The problems are too big now.....
But ya' gots ta start somewhere.. right?

The Big Dog's back

Start by getting rid of the right wingnuts in the House and Senate.

JACKEL

Yea, let's turn The Whole Country to The Anti Christian Commie Libs !

coasterfan

OMG. You actually think Tyson has been "bought"? There is no political ideology in the information he presents. As he often says "Science is true, regardless of whether or not you believe it".
He does oppose anyone who is in anti-science denial, which describes the rightwing ideology, but it's important to note that with Tyson, the science is all that matters.

Tyson is one of the most intelligent people in America. Gotta love when a rightwingnut calls him a bozo...

jazzbo

Sugar has handed his brains over to Fox and Rush.

JACKEL

At least a brain to turn ! What have you ever done to earn this freedom given to us by all those who have given their lives for it ?You too would be upset if you saw it taken away by day by day, by a bunch of Hypocrites like Bozo and his cronies. Now he set another poor president by trading 5 terrorist's for a traitor. They are even going to promote this traitor, before they execute him.

jazzbo

My , my , my , have anger issues do we ?

I served in the Army.

What did you do ?

Darwin's choice

He has to do everything he can to defer/deflect his incompetence!

downthemiddle

"Obama is the product of an incompetent electorate."

If only that were true.... the sad truth is it's half true... the other half of his votes were bought with obamaphones and welfare.

The Big Dog's back

They're actually bushphones.

downthemiddle

...assuming that you didn't sell your vote for a phone, that leaves you in the incompetent category.

Darwin's choice

Correct!

Maggdi

Listen.... short of being convicted of first degree murder in the White House we're apparently talking 'carte blanche'.... and have been since 2009.............
It's the Chicago way..

Blowfish

Obama should be the least of your worries. Look at recent Supreme Court decisions. If you are not a gazillionaire your vote wont mean jack. Things are going to get really bad for anyone making under 100k.

downthemiddle

blowhard... your union dues are feeding the democrat vote buying..... and the unions spend wwaayy more than the Koch Bros.

btw.. uaw dues go up 25% today.

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