Thursday, May 28, 2015

KY Fighting "Clean Power" Regs It Already Meets

How stupid is Kentucky about coal?  Not only hasn't Kentucky noticed that Big Coal died about 20 years ago and its rotting corpse has been stinking up the place ever since, but Kentucky is wasting time and tax dollars fighting EPA clean power regulations that the Commonwealth already meets because that's how dead coal is.

And this is the headline of the day:  "Kentucky May Accidentally Comply With EPA's Clean Power Plan"

Kentucky has consistently opposed federal efforts to impose environmental rules on the state's power plants.  First, lawmakers passed a bill to exempt the state from submitting a plan to meet the proposed air regulations that work against coal. Then it sued the Environmental Protection Agency over the rule.

Now, the state may go from defiance to compliance––without meaning to.

Cheap natural gas is flooding the market as environmental regulations take effect and because upgrading aging plants is cost-prohibitive, coal-fired power plants across Kentucky are shutting down, as they are across the country. In Kentucky alone, more than a quarter of the coal-fired plants have already shut down, or are expected to in the next two years.

Last year, the Obama administration released the draft version of the Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and sets emission targets for each state. Kentucky is supposed to reduce emissions 15 percent by 2020––and a total of 18 percent by 2030––from 2012 levels. It's also required to submit a plan showing how it will reach those goals.

With the announced retirements alone, Kentucky will reach the EPA's goal, energy analysts and state officials believe.

"Kentucky could be well in compliance with the targets" provided the state replaced the coal power with clean energy sources, said Amlan Saha, a vice president at M.J. Bradley and Associates, an environmental consulting group. "That’s not the case with many other states."

Coal is a vital part of Kentucky's culture. Despite flagging production numbers and new lows in coal jobs, the attachment to coal runs deep, and the industry continues to maintain a hold over the state’s politics.

Natural gas, of course, is not only not remotely close to "clean," but considering the effect of leaked methane on exacerbating global warming, fracked natural gas may be even worse than coal.

Shame on EPA for counting natural gas as "clean" energy.  If EPA counted only genuinely renewable energy as clean, Kentucky would be further from meeting clean power standards than it ever has been.

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