A sampling of states’ reactions to President Barack Obama’s plan for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants:
STATES MOST RELIANT ON COAL FOR ELECTRICITY
KENTUCKY: Not surprisingly, the proposal is widely unpopular in Kentucky, which gets 92 percent of its electricity from coal – more than any other state except West Virginia – and is the nation’s third-largest coal producer. “Why keep chopping the legs out of your own economy to fight a world problem?” asks Gary Whitt, a railroad worker whose job depends on coal shipments.
INDIANA: Gov. Mike Pence and a state manufacturers’ group say the plan would cost Indiana – which generates 80 percent of its power from coal and is perched atop a gigantic vein – jobs and business growth while boosting ratepayer costs that are among the nation’s lowest. Purdue University researcher Doug Gotham says replacing aging coal-fired plants with natural gas burners will help.
STATES THAT PRODUCE THE MOST COAL
WYOMING: Fighting the feds is nothing new in a state participating in a dozen lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency over air emissions. Gov. Matt Mead says he’s reviewing the proposal and will “fight for coal” if necessary. Wyoming leads the country in coal production with nearly 40 percent, and Wyoming Mining Association director Jonathan Downing says it can be a clean energy source.
WEST VIRGINIA: Democrats and Republicans may agree on little else in the No. 2 coal-producing state, which also gets almost all its power from coal, but opposition to the EPA plan is bipartisan. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says none of the state’s coal plants is close to meeting the proposed standard, although companies say they’re cutting emissions.
STATES REQUIRED TO MAKE THE BIGGEST CUTS
WASHINGTON: The plan demands a 72 percent cut in coal usage, a far higher rate than any other state. But it helps that in this hydro-rich state, just 3 percent of electricity is coal-generated. Gov. Jay Inslee praises Obama for his leadership on carbon pollution, while officials note that a voter-approved law requires the largest utilities to get more power from renewable sources.
SOUTH CAROLINA: State government and power companies say the federal order to cut coal emissions by 51 percent is surprisingly harsh. But more than half of South Carolina’s power comes from nuclear plants and that will increase after two units under construction go online.
LEADING USERS OF ALTERNATIVE ENERGY
COLORADO: The administration describes Colorado as a poster child in the push to cut carbon emissions, praising its requirements for utilities to step up use of renewable energy sources; the state gets 11 percent of its power from wind. But coal remains the biggest electricity provider, and the plan seeks a 35 percent cut by 2030.
CALIFORNIA: Coal is a bit player in the most populous state’s energy portfolio, so few are complaining about the EPA order to reduce emissions by 23 percent. California gets more power from wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro and solar than from coal, and its providers are required to generate one-third of their electricity from renewables by 2020. “While others delay and deny, the Obama administration is confronting climate change head-on with these new standards,” Gov. Jerry Brown says.
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