U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Illinois) fired back Monday, June 2, at the announcement of stronger regulations against American coal-fired power plants.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday proposed a rule designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants by as much as 30 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, according to the Washington Post. After the EPA finalizes the plan in mid-2015, it will give states a year to design their own implementation plans.
“Today, the President will use his executive powers to create new standards and regulations for carbon emissions across the country,” Enyart said. “President Obama will set a national limit on carbon emissions from coal plants, but will allow each state to determine how to cut those emissions. As co-chair of the Coal Caucus, I oppose this unnecessary regulatory attack on our coal plants.
“It is important that we strive to create a cleaner, safer environment for our children. This will help to reduce child asthma rates, while slowing down the deterioration of our environment. Coal emissions are lower today than ever before, and companies right here in Southern Illinois are working every day to ensure safe, clean, affordable power is delivered to your home without interruption.
“The EPA and President Obama must understand that coal continues to be the single largest source for America’s electricity supply. The standards set to be unveiled today, an expected 30 percent cut, are impractical and unnecessary because the coal industry is already working toward improving emissions while maintaining reliable energy delivery.
“Instead of penalizing the coal industry, we must work to improve clean coal technology and bring costs down. As we do this, coal will become even more environmentally friendly. I’ve spoken to coal operators and industry leaders, and it’s clear to me that the standards would make it virtually impossible to produce stable, reliable energy. With 40 percent of our electricity generated by coal, we can’t turn the lights out on America.
“We have abundant coal resources in Southern Illinois that can help power our nation for decades to come. And in these uncertain economic times, we must ensure that our nation’s energy supply is reliable and affordable as well as environmentally friendly. We simply cannot afford a massive spike in energy prices. Southern Illinois’ fixed income families cannot afford an increase in heating and air conditioning bills.
“In recent years, our Southern Illinois coal industry has slowly rebounded through persistence and determination. The regulations announced today will halt that rebound and cause more uncertainty in coal mines and power plants in our region and beyond. Our local economies, and most importantly, our families simply cannot withstand the loss of good-paying jobs in the region.
“I’ve been fighting for our Southern Illinois coal plants and mine workers since my first day in office. Today’s announcement only reinforces my commitment and desire to continue that fight.”
Enyart serves as co-chair of the Coal Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.
U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Illinois), a senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Chairman of its Environment and Economy Subcommittee, released the following statement in response to the new EPA rule:
“After failing to win support for a cap-and-trade program in Congress, the Obama administration is now attempting to implement a similar scheme through EPA rulemaking. Without a doubt, this new front in the War on Coal will raise electricity rates – especially in the Midwest – and cost hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs nationwide.
“All for what though? EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy already conceded that it’s ‘unlikely’ any of EPA’s climate-related rules will have a meaningful impact on the agency’s own indicators of global climate change. In fact, even if President Obama could close every coal-fired power plant in America tomorrow, the effect on global emissions would be entirely offset by just a fraction of the proposed coal-fired plants being built overseas.
“This rule will be all pain and no gain for American energy consumers and job seekers.”
American Lung Association statement
Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association, issued the following statement in response to the regulations:
“Power plant pollution makes people sick and cuts short lives. We are pleased to see significant health benefits from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed limits on carbon pollution from power plants, which would reduce the burden of air pollution in America, prevent up to 4,000 premature deaths and 100,000 asthma attacks in the first year they are in place, and prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in 2030.
“EPA’s proposed limits show serious commitment to addressing one of the most serious public health challenges of our day, climate change. Scientists say that warmer temperatures can enhance the conditions for lethal air pollutants, including ozone and particle pollution. Despite steps in place to curb these pollutants, evidence shows that climate change is likely to increase the risk of unhealthy air in large parts of the United States. More pollution means more childhood asthma attacks and complications for those with lung disease, including increased risk of premature death.
“Cleaning up carbon pollution will have an immediate, positive impact on public health; particularly for those who suffer from chronic diseases like asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Steps to clean up carbon pollution can reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, both poisonous emissions from coal-fired power plants that are also major precursors to lethal ozone and particulate matter pollution.
“We urge the EPA to set a final standard within a year and will work with health partners across the country to support the strongest limits on carbon pollution. Anything less shortchanges our future, our children and our health.”