Governor Matt Mead says federal regulations are slowly and relentlessly smothering America's coal industry. In a letter commenting on an EPA proposed rule regarding carbon dioxide emissions standards for new power plants, Governor Mead says the regulation is particularly damaging to the nation's leading coal producing state and should be withdrawn.
"The standards set out in the proposed rule are unachievable and will arrest research, development and commercialization of clean technologies," Governor Mead wrote to Administrator Lisa Jackson. "This has grave implications on the continuing viability of coal as an energy source and on the economic stability of Wyoming and the nation."
The EPA rule would prohibit the construction of new coal-fired power plants unless they use carbon capture and storage (CCS). Governor Mead points out that this technology is not yet commercially viable. "Moreover, installing such technology in a coal plant will nearly double costs. Some U.S. coal plants are in the process of employing CCS with considerable financial support from the federal government. None are operating and some projects have been canceled." Governor Mead says that basing analysis on speculative federal funding for CCS technologies is not reasonable especially in light of the federal government's $15 trillion debt.
Governor Mead also raises concern over the EPA's analysis that, with a decrease in the use of coal as a power source, energy markets will be stable and the policy will not have consequential impact. "Currently, markets have given natural gas a competitive advantage but the price of natural gas has only one constant -- volatility. Just four years ago natural gas prices were 500% higher than they are today."
The Governor points out that coal, which provides about 40% of America's electricity, is abundant and affordable and the industry is striving to reduce emissions. "We must have high expectations that industry continues to improve. Year after year there have been reductions of every form of emission. Recently built coal plants use the best available technologies. We can do more, but the heavy burden of this proposed rule and the implication that the EPA anticipates similar regulations of existing sources will have far-reaching consequences," Governor Mead wrote.
"Citizens who need low cost electricity, individuals who need jobs, our country which needs energy security, our coal industry which needs to be able to operate successfully, our schools and our communities which depend on a viable coal industry -- all will be impacted under the proposed rule," Governor Mead wrote. The Governor ended the letter saying that we need to support future development of coal generation and a regulatory framework that promotes innovative technologies.