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Contrasting views on energy future

Onerous EPA coal regulations will sap life of fragile economy

The strict carbon emission limits recently proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency will mean higher electric bills for business and residential consumers. The warranted outrage over this latest maneuver, which comes with no evidence of improving overall air quality, was plentiful and came from various corners. A few examples:

•U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.): “I strongly believe there is a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, protect our environment and our health, while at the same time make sure we are not excessively burdening the Hoosier families and businesses that rely on affordable power. The regulations proposed fail to meet this basic, common sense objective.”

•Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence: “These regulations will drive up the cost of electricity at a time when our economy can least afford it. In addition, the higher cost of electricity will disproportionately affect low- and fixed-income Hoosiers. Manufacturing states, like Indiana, will feel the brunt the greatest as our industrial sectors put more of their revenue toward their electricity bill and less toward putting more Hoosiers to work.”

•Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association: “The rule effectively bans construction of the most efficient power plants the nation will need to provide affordable electricity for a growing economy and will certainly create further economic hardships for millions of families, especially those most vulnerable to higher energy costs.”

Specifically, the new standards mandate carbon capture and storage technology be used on all new coal-fueled power plants. Smart, necessary regulation by the EPA makes sense; this does not. The EPA is putting at risk our most plentiful energy resource (coal), one that supplies nearly half of our nation’s electric power. In addition, the carbon capture and sequestration technology being suggested is not yet proven in an industry setting.

Locally, Hoosier families and businesses get more than 80 percent of their electricity from coal. Indiana consumes 70 million tons of coal per year. The early retirement of these coal-fired power plants – which will happen – will require substantial switching to primarily more expensive natural gas to meet growing demand. Again, that will mean higher electricity costs for you, me and our employers.

It’s time for everyone to contact their members of Congress and urge action against the EPA.

Vince Griffin is vice president, environmental and energy policy, for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. He wrote this for Indiana newspapers.

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