Wyoming governor blasts EPA's coal plant proposal

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 9, 2014 at 6:20 pm •  Published: May 9, 2014
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Gov. Matt Mead of Wyoming, the nation's leading coal-producing state, is calling on the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw a proposal to require new coal-fired power plants to employ carbon-capture technology.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy proposed last fall to require new coal-fired power plants to employ carbon capture and sequestration technology, a process that involves intercepting emissions at the smokestack and storing them underground. Friday was the last day for comments on the rule, which could go into effect next year.

Mead wrote to McCarthy on Friday, the last day for comments on the proposal, saying the EPA's proposed emissions standards for new coal-fired plants are a threat to Wyoming's economy. He said the state produces about 40 percent of the nation's coal while its coal industry employs nearly 7,000 people with a $560 million payroll.

"Numerous air regulations have been proposed and promulgated to eliminate use of the United States' leading source of low-cost, reliable energy — coal," Mead wrote to McCarthy. "This proposal is yet one more example. The proposed regulation will adversely impact Wyoming's economy as the leading coal supplier to the United States. It lacks sound reasoning, technological justification and will not provide regulatory certainty."

Mead stated the EPA is misrepresenting the viability of the carbon-capture technology, which he said has not been integrated and proved for use at a commercial-scale coal power plant. The state has mounted a series of lawsuits under Mead's tenure against recent EPA air quality rules and regulations.

In testimony to a Senate committee earlier this year, McCarthy defended the carbon-capture requirement.

"We looked at the data available. We looked at the technologies," McCarthy told the Senate Environment Committee in January. "We made a determination that (carbon capture and storage technology) was the best system for emission reductions for coal facilities moving forward, because it was technically feasible and it would lead to significant emission reductions."

An attempt to reach an EPA spokesman for reaction to Mead's comments was not immediately successful on Friday.

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