EPA Listening Tour Stokes Outrage Over Coal Regulations

October 31, 2013
Coal workers Brian Smith and Jeanine Vallejos of Craig sent the EPA a message at Wednesday's rally.

Coal workers Brian Smith and Jeanine Vallejos of Craig sent the EPA a message at Wednesday’s rally

DENVER—The Environmental Protection Agency brought its listening tour on coal-fired plant emissions to Denver Wednesday, but coal advocates worry that their concerns are going in one ear and out the other.

At a rally outside the state capitol, State Rep. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) told a crowd of about 200 coal supporters that efforts to convince the agency to enact regulations the industry can live with are probably for naught.

“[President Obama] is mandating these changes from DC through the Interior Department to EPA, who now is sitting here having hearings to try to make you feel better,” said Scott. “Do you think the decision is made? More than likely, yes, it is made.”

Adding to that perception is the agency’s itinerary. EPA officials embarked this month on an 11-city listening tour as they contemplate new regulations on existing coal-fired power plants, but most of those stops are in heavily urban areas far from coal-mining operations.

The Institute for 21st Century Energy and 13 state and business groups issued a letter this week accusing the agency of breaking its own rules requiring hearings to be held in geographic areas affected by the proposed policies.

For example, the listening tour is making a stop in San Francisco, which receives 1 percent of its energy from coal-fired plants, but not West Virginia, where 96 percent of its electricity comes from coal.

“EPA has chosen to locate most of these hearings in states and regions that use very little coal, while neglecting states most dependent on coal for affordable and reliable electricity generation,” said the letter.

Of those 11 cities, Denver is the most dependent on coal, with 63 percent of its energy generated by coal-fired plants, according to the institute.

At the all-day hearing, speakers came from a half-dozen states to comment on the agency’s plan, with opponents of more regulations outnumbering proponents by at least 2 to 1.

“The proposed regulation being considered by the EPA will without a doubt be a death penalty to the coal industry,” said Greg Kohn of Count on Coal Montana. “Make no mistake, not only will it destroy the coal industry, it will severely impact other industries, communities, and most importantly, it will severely impact thousands of working-class families.”

Speakers insisted that the coal industry is already reeling from regulations enacted during the Obama administration on mercury and future coal-fired plants.

“We are not putting our heads in sand here,” said Bruce Lawlor of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 111 in Denver. “We will support reasonable measures to increase energy efficiency at coal generation plants, reducing their CO2 emissions; however, we cannot support targets that will force a new wave of plant closures and job losses.”

Martha Rudolph, director of environmental programs at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, urged the agency to take into account Colorado’s progress to date in reducing carbon-dioxide emissions through initiatives such as the 2010 Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act and the state’s renewable-energy standard.

“There’s tremendous value in allowing states to pursue methods of public health and environmental protection that work best for their unique environments and economies,” said Rudolph.

On the other side were speakers who said that regulations on existing plants are needed to combat climate change, pointing to Colorado’s summer wildfires and epic September flooding as examples of weather events stoked by carbon-dioxide emissions.

“A friend of mine lost his home in Thompson Canyon. The entire house went into the river,” said Oliver Young of Morrison, Colo. “I’m not saying that climate has to do exclusively with this, but climate change, temperature increases and intensification of weather patterns due to greenhouse-gas emissions have played a part in this. The science is clear.”

Environmentalists held a counter-rally outside the Tattered Cover in Denver to drum up support for another round of regulation on the coal industry.

Pro-coal speakers argued that the science is on their side, citing studies showing that carbon-dioxide emissions are down 23 percent since 2005 as a result of technological innovations at power plants.

State Rep. Steve Humphrey (R-Windsor) said EPA regulations have already contributed to the closure of 300 existing coal units in 33 states, even though carbon-dioxide emissions from the U.S. coal fleet represent only 3 percent of global emissions.

“Reducing carbon-dioxide emissions from the U.S. coal fleet will increase energy costs without any meaningful effect on global climate change,” said Humphrey.

The EPA’s listening tour is slated to conclude in November, after which the agency is expected to release proposed regulations by June 2014 as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

5 Responses to EPA Listening Tour Stokes Outrage Over Coal Regulations

  1. Bob Terry
    October 31, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Okay HELLO !!! Job’s Union’s Udall and Bennett …De Gette Polis…we will make our state viable …we will and will advocate for jobs energy…Obama Jobs..Well this Pig is at your doorstep…Coal …lets see …hmmm Union Jobs Miner’s ..Electricians, Laborer’s.. Machinists, Railroad workers (all crafts ) Truckers, ( all..independent, union..dedicated haul…short haul and or associated workers) A listening tour from the EPA !!! What a frigg’in laugh..and lets go to states thatuse little or produce little coal …We’re paying for crap studies like this … Hey as a retired locomotive engineer for 40 years Santa Fe / BNSF I hauled more coal than I’d like to count or remember…and all weather conditions and anytime for call day or night 24/7… To see Government BS… Obama Climate action plan …

    Union people !!! Where is you’re great president ? besides breaking it off in you and you’re liking it…Colorado legislators state federal …where do you stand …Hey let’s vote some more losers that really don’t have your interest in mind…except for the droning talking points that cost more do little or nothing..Kid’s environment …Climate change…They are saying THIS for you and doing another …Look at Udall look at Bennett De Gette…hey the princess is there for you …Jared …yeah Jared…he’s for his portfolio …and your interest maybe ..if it benefits Jared … Bunch of Phonies … But they are so for you …well when yer stupid hind ends..are losing your job’s…. Nah it’s not your company…but your legislators…making regulation and business hard to deal with ….lol and your the pawns …too bad …. Merry Christmas from your Democratic party …

    • Gary
      October 31, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      If the coal fired power plants would shut down for a day as a demonstration of what impact stoopid regulations will have in the not too distant future; might get even the union folks and low info folks’ attention. Soaring energy prices,diminishing energy supply. Between China and India, a new coal-fired plant goes online every week. And our political geniuses are concerned about a minor, infinitessimal and unprovably dangerous emission. Go figure. Yeah, figure how fast your electric bill is gonna double. And Happy Halloween too from your Demoradical party…

  2. Peter1951
    November 3, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    The Environmental Protection Agency should change it’s name to the Energy Prevention Agency. These enviros are doing more harm to this country than any carbon emissions they blame for Global Warming or Global Freezing or now Climate Change. These folks keep changing the threat faster than real scientist can prove them wrong. Van Jones, the Obama Administrations favorite house communist, told us that the best way to destroy the capitalist system is by using the environmental movement. I don’t believe that all environmentalist are commies but the real force behind the movement consider them as “useful idiots”. It is not bad enough that they are destroying the currency by printing paper money, they also need to make sure that America’s cheap energy is gone for good.

  3. November 16, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Their agenda has nothing to do with the environment or protecting watersheds, etc. It’s set by the radical left wing of the Democrat Party, and with the extremist Obama Admin. in power, the EPA will not waver from its goals which are to stop human progress, hamper development, drive up energy costs, and disable the capitalist system. This non-listening tour is simply an attempt to maintain the appearance of federal-state cooperation, but it’s just another head fake from the most anti-American, anti-energy, anti-free market administration in the history of this country.


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