The Environmental Protection Agency has unveiled its rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. Some politicians and the coal industry have criticized the rules, saying they amount to a ban on new coal-fired plants.
The plan sets an emissions limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour for large natural gas plants, and 1,100 pounds per megawatt hour for coal and smaller natural gas plants.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says climate change caused by greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide poses numerous public health challenges—everything from poor air quality to an increase in the number of disease-spreading mosquitoes and ticks. She said these rules for new power plants are necessary, and won’t have the dire economic consequences industry groups predict
“We have proven time after time that setting fair, Clean Air Act standards to protect public health does not cause the sky to fall,” McCarthy said. “The economy does not crumble.”
Technologies like carbon capture and sequestration will help new coal plants comply with the standard; they’re available, but are still very expensive.
Mississippi Power's Kemper County energy facility near DeKalb, Miss., seen under construction last year. Carbon dioxide will be captured from this plant and used to stimulate production of oil from existing wells.
Credit Rogelio V. Solis / AP
The gasifier facility, still under construction last year at the energy plant. Under the EPA's proposed rules, new plants that run on coal would have to find ways to emit less than half the carbon dioxide current coal plants emit.
The Environmental Protection Agency's second stab at a proposal to set the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants would make it impossible for companies to build the kind of coal-fired plants that have been the country's biggest source of electricity for decades.
Under the proposal, released Friday, any new plant that runs on coal would be permitted to emit only about half as much carbon dioxide as an average coal plant puts into the air today.
Crews are cleaning up after a train derailed in Hardin County, sending 15 cars carrying coal off the tracks.
The News-Enterprise reports that no injuries were reported when the Paducah & Louisville train derailed early Thursday morning in northern Hardin County. The train had a total of 88 cars. No hazardous materials were involved.
The newspaper reports crews from R.J. Corman were cleaning up the site.
There was a slight drop in both the eastern and western Kentucky coalfields, but western Kentucky still produced slightly more coal—50.2 percent of the total production.
The data estimates there are 12,342 coal miners employed in the state—the lowest since the state began keeping records in 1927. That number represents a loss of 851 jobs, but the losses weren’t even among the coalfields. Eastern Kentucky lost jobs, while Western Kentucky’s coal industry grew slightly.
The state says Kentucky's coal jobs have dropped to the lowest level in the more than 85 years that the state has kept records of the number.
The Energy and Environment Cabinet says eastern Kentucky mines cut 916 jobs from April through June, while western Kentucky mines added 65 jobs, an increase of 1.5 percent. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the jobs lost in eastern Kentucky followed steep declines in 2012.
The cabinet said the number of people working at coal mines and facilities statewide dropped to 12,342 as of July, the lowest number since 1927.
The report also said eastern Kentucky coal production has dropped more than 41 percent in two years.