Although touted by proponents as a flexible and achievable way to curb carbon emissions, recently proposed federal power plant emission standards are merely a de facto attempt transform America's energy usage away from coal, the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance said today.
Alliance CEO John Pippy, testifying before the state Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said the standards would have a disproportionate, negative impact on jobs and the economy in energy-producing states such as Pennsylvania.
A recent economic study by the Pennsylvania Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh showed that the state's coal industry supports 36,000 jobs in the commonwealth and adds more than $4 billion annually to the state's economy.
The proposed standards would force the state to reduce carbon emissions by 42 percent, using 2005 as a baseline. Pippy noted that carbon emissions already are declining, by nearly 12 percent from 2005 to 2012, and projected to decline by 22 percent through 2020.
"Given the affordability and reliability of coal as a source of electricity, this regulatory attempt to displace coal will have profound and sweeping consequences, not just on the coal industry and its workers, but also on those communities that host coal-fired power plants, those employed at these facilities and every ratepayer who depends upon the reliable provisioning of electricity at competitive rates," Pippy said.
Pippy recommended that the General Assembly enact a measure that would require legislative approval before submitting a state compliance plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He also urged the committee to submit comments at an EPA hearing in Pittsburgh July 31.
The irony is that the proposed standards would have virtually no impact on global greenhouse gas emissions and could even cause an increase because they would essentially kill any continued advancement in clean coal technology, Pippy noted.
He said U.S. power plants account for only 4 percent of global carbon emissions, while China and India alone account for 20 percent. They and other developing countries are increasing their reliance on coal, he said.
"Pennsylvania and its residents would pay a steep price for an ill-conceived public policy that would do nothing to address the issue it purports to address," Pippy said. "We urge state lawmakers to do all they can to mitigate the harm this will cause to the state's economy."