Jul 11

What Would New EPA Rules On Carbon Emissions Mean For Missourians?

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – Whether you call is “global warming”, “climate change” or “climate disruption” or whether you think the claims of manmade climate destruction are bogus, political decisions connected to those claims could hit you square in the wallet.

The questions are how much and is it worth it?

The Environmental Protection Agency wants to crack down on carbon emissions, particularly from the plants that produce our electricity. The goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 30% in the coming years.

Andy Knott from the Sierra Club of Missouri’s Beyond Coal campaign supports the proposed rules.

MWSnap195“These rules are historic in that they would, for the first time, dramatically reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. But, as proposed, this rule would reduce carbon pollution from power plants in Missouri by 20%.”

If these rules are put into place, each state would have to come up with their plan to meet their reduction goals. Knott says, for the Show Me State, lawmakers would have options when developing a plan.

“It could involve increases in energy efficiency programs for customers, which would actually reduce electric bills. It could result in efficiencies gained at the power plants themselves because power plants are not very efficient in terms of converting coal to energy. [Also] increasing renewable energy; wind power, solar power. Those are also options that are on the table.”

One thing both sides generally agree on is that the proposed regulations, if enacted, will raise the rate for your electric bill. Many estimates have that increase at six to ten percent.

Knott believes the rate increases are worth it because, he says, there would be savings in other areas as a result.

“We will see a reduction in asthma attacks, especially in terms of children and the elderly, because you’ll see other emissions reduced. We’ll also see the risk associated with climate change reduced. Anything from warmer days in the summer that increase smog pollution to reduction in severe weather events.”

Not so fast, says Associated Industries of Missouri President Ray McCarty. He doesn’t see a need for massive new regulations on carbon emissions because, he says, progress is already being made without the rules.

MWSnap196“We’ve taken great steps in the United States to reduce carbon emissions already. The coal we’re burning now to get 82% of our power in Missouri, to generate electricity, is much cleaner now than it used to be.”

The soonest the proposed rules could start phasing in is about two years. Supporters say it would force an increased use of renewable energy. McCarty says he likes the fact that renewable energy is part of the state’s energy portfolio but believes it’s now ready to be a major energy provider.

At least not yet.

“As the technology improves, we’re using more solar [and] we’re using more wind. The problem is reliability. Wind doesn’t always blow when you need electricity generated and electricity can only be stored for so long. The same with solar; the sun only shines through certain parts of the day.”

In the meantime, McCarty says regulatory decisions impact everyone in Missouri.

“What’s disturbing about this is that it’s basically outlawing the use of coal and it’s doing that through reducing the emissions to a point that it’s unreasonable. What that means for the consumers is that power companies are not going to be able to use coal, which is the cheapest form of generation of electricity.”

That’s part of the reason for increased electric rates if the EPA proposals were to be enacted.

To McCarty, that makes this environmental and federal discussion also about Missouri’s economy.

“There’s only so many dollars in the system and as you start to use more dollars to purchase power, those are fewer dollars you can use for personnel. That’s how it results in the loss of jobs.”

On the web:

US Environmental Protection Agency/Carbon Emissions Proposals:

Sierra Club of Missouri:

Associated Industries of Missouri:

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