U.S. Representative Glenn "GT' Thompson (R-PA) has joined U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) in calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a separate subcategory for waste coal plants in new regulations that could otherwise cause them to close. The letter, which was sent this week to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, was signed by seven other Pennsylvania Congressmen.
"We are writing in regard to the 14 coal-refuse-to-energy plants that are located in Pennsylvania and are affected by the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards ("MATS rule"). These plants provide unique environmental benefits by using state-of-the-art circulating fluidized bed ("CFB") technology to convert coal refuse into energy," the letter states.
Pennsylvania's 14 coal-refuse-to-energy plants are on track to meet the requirements for EPA's new MATS rule, except for the hydrochloric acid (HCl) standard. The letter describes how the study conducted by EPA and used as the basis for the rule fails to consider the effects of the HCI standard on coal-refuse-to-energy plants.
Private industry provides the only current viable option for removing coal refuse stockpiles from the environment. Should the plants be forced to close, billions in costs would be shifted to the Commonwealth resulting in indefinitely delayed environmental clean-up efforts and hundreds of job losses.
"We are concerned about the effect that the current HCl emission limit could have on the ability of these plants to operate," the letter states. "Should that option become unavailable, the entire responsibility for removal and clean-up would fall on taxpayers and the government, a task the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has testified would cost billions of dollars and take over 500 years to accomplish."
"Besides the environmental benefits, these plants directly employ over 1,000 people, with additional thousands employed indirectly. We believe the economic stimulus from the plants to economically distressed areas of Pennsylvania is considerable," the letter continues. "In order to ensure that coal-refuse-to-energy plants are able to continue providing critical environmental benefits, we ask you to consider a subcategory-specific HCl emission limitation under the MATS rule."
Additional letter signatories: U.S. Representatives Mark Critz (D-PA), Jason Altmire (D-PA), Tim Holden (D-PA), Lou Barletta (R-PA), Tom Marino (R-PA), Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Bill Shuster (R-PA).