Kaine To EPA: Provide Coal-Fired Plants Flexibility To Meet Any New Regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine wrote a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy to urge the agency to adopt attainable New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for coal-fired power plants. In the letter, Kaine noted his support as Governor for the permitting of the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, a state-of-the-art coal plant in Southwest Virginia that dramatically reduced mercury and sulfur emissions. Facilities like Virginia City could not be permitted if the EPA issued the same regulations for new gas-fired and coal-fired plants. 

"In order to get cleaner tomorrow than today, states need strong, achievable goals and the options and flexibility to meet them," Kaine wrote in his letter to McCarthy. "I am encouraged by the proposals contained in the President’s recent plan that promote innovation in clean-coal technologies; incentivize energy efficiency; and drive forward the commercialization of renewable alternatives.  I believe an NSPS providing these wide-ranging, flexible mechanisms for emissions reduction makes more sense than a standard that effectively shuts down coal, potentially resulting in modern facilities being decommissioned with decades of use left." 

The Energy Information Administration ranks Virginia as 12th in the nation in coal production.

Full text of the letter is below: 

Dear Administrator McCarthy: 

I write to address the Environmental Protection Agency’s consideration of greenhouse gas New Source Performance Standards for power plants. 

According to recent news reports, EPA is considering separate standards for coal-fired and gas-fired power plants as part of the reconsidered NSPS it plans to release in September.  I would like to share my support for this approach.

I strongly believe we must address climate change and that a phased process is the most effective way to do this.  We cannot achieve our climate and clean energy goals by summarily retiring all coal-fired electricity – 37% of U.S. generation, according to the Energy Information Administration.  We have to adjust our energy sources and consumption incrementally with smart policy choices, innovation incentives, and appropriate flexibility for states with different energy portfolios to meet pollution standards in different ways.

As Governor of Virginia, I undertook this approach to make needed progress toward lower-carbon energy while being mindful of impacts on coal-reliant communities.  In 2008, I supported the permitting of the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center – a state-of-the-art coal plant in Southwest Virginia – in concert with the retirement or conversion to gas of several older, less-efficient coal plants.  Construction of this facility created more than 2,000 jobs while dramatically reducing mercury and sulfur emissions and providing capacity for co-firing of biomass to reduce CO2 emissions.  Under a limit of 1,000 lbs/MWh of CO2, as originally proposed in the previous draft NSPS, a facility like this could not have been permitted.  I strongly urge you to ensure that the standards you set are achievable for modern coal facilities like Virginia City.

In order to get cleaner tomorrow than today, states need strong, achievable goals and the options and flexibility to meet them.  I am encouraged by the proposals contained in the President’s recent plan that promote innovation in clean-coal technologies; incentivize energy efficiency; and drive forward the commercialization of renewable alternatives.  I believe an NSPS providing these wide-ranging, flexible mechanisms for emissions reduction makes more sense than a standard that effectively shuts down coal, potentially resulting in modern facilities being decommissioned with decades of use left.

As you prepare the latest New Source Performance Standard, I encourage you to give strong consideration to separate NSPS for coal and gas plants, as well as other measures that reduce emissions while promoting jobs and economic growth.  Thank you for your attention to this matter. 

Sincerely,
Tim Kaine 

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