Agencies Brace for New EPA Coal Regulations: Outdoor Council Sees Potential for Wind Power
State agencies and lawmakers are preparing responses to the recently announced rules about coal from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Monday, the Select Federal Natural Resource Management Committee looked at two new EPA regulations governing greenhouse gases emitted from existing coal-fired electrical generation plants, and the percentage reductions for each state, said committee co-chairman Rep. Tim Stubson (R-Casper).
"It shows really the decision by the Legislature that given the amount of impacts of federal decisions on our state that we need a specific committee looking at those issues, investigating those issues, and reporting on those issues," Stubson said.
Besides the committee, the governor's office, the DEQ and the Wyoming Public Service Commission are evaluating the EPA regulations, he said.
"The percentage required by Wyoming for 2030 is a 19 percent reduction in carbon emissions," Stubson said.
The governor's office and the DEQ need to have their comments prepared by Thursday.
They impact Wyoming as an energy-producing state almost disproportionately compared to other states, Stubson said.
For example, Wyoming gets demerits, in effect, for the power and coal it ships to 34 states, he said.
But the states that burn the coal for their electricity production do not get demerits, he said.
On the other hand, when wind farms in Wyoming ship the energy they produce to other states, the other states get credits for our wind power, Stubson said.
"We sort of get the worst of both possible worlds about how you get to that 19 percent," he said.
Not only that, there's no existing technology that could enable the state to reach that goal, Stubson said.
Without some changes in the mandates, the new rules will result in the shutdown of coal-fired plants, he said.
While the EPA's mandates are serious, Richard Garrett of the Wyoming Outdoor Council said these issues can be resolved and the new rules may give the state a competitive advantage.
"We need to remember that climate change is upon us, and that we've got to do something about it. It's not going to be useful to sit on the sidelines or to just hope to litigate out of climate change."
The regulations could offer a silver lining in the clouds that skitter along the Wyoming winds, too, he said.
"Now I would argue that potentially puts us at a competitive advantage," Garrett said.
"We will have a resource that other states will truly need in order to meet their obligations under the proposed rule and then we will be able to create wind energy more on our terms," he said.