ATLANTA – The House Natural Resources Committee voted without opposition Thursday to a resolution urging the federal Environmental Protection Division to make its Clean Power Plan less stringent for Georgia.
Business and labor groups warned the plan would result in higher electricity rates and fewer jobs while environmental groups said compliance would trigger creation of different jobs and improve air quality.
Pennsylvania State Legislative Director Paul Pokrowka is asking all SMART Transportation Division members from Pennsylvania to take action and contact the office of Gov. Tom Corbett, requesting he sign House Bill 2354 into law.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced the first ever regulation of carbon dioxide emissions for existing stationary sources (power plants). Under the preliminary EPA rule, Pennsylvania is given an emissions target to meet by 2030 and will be able to write its own implementation plan on how best to meet those reductions.
The legislation, which already has approval from both chambers of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, would require the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to receive approval from the General Assembly prior to submitting the plan to the EPA.
“This bill is important to our members because it helps to give us a voice in regulations concerning the coal industry,” Pokrowka said. “We need Corbett to sign this bill into law by Oct. 26 or the bill is dead in the water.”
Rep. Pam Snyder (D), who authored the bill said, “Pennsylvania deserves the opportunity to forge its energy future and protect electric ratepayers and jobs. The state legislature will be the final arbiter of how the commonwealth approaches greenhouse gas regulation. It is what we were elected to do, and leaving Pennsylvania’s energy destiny in the hands of unelected, unaccountable federal regulators would be irresponsible.”
SMART Transportation Division Georgia State Legislative Director Matt Campbell testified before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency July 29 in Atlanta, addressing the concerns of the union and its members regarding the agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.
In its proposed rule, the EPA is proposing state-specific rate-based goals for carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector, as well as guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to achieve the state-specific goals.
The rule seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants in the United States.
The EPA plan would reduce carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide and reduce particle pollution, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent.
Campbell noted that the transportation of coal by U.S. railroads is vitally important to the welfare of the members he represents.
“We are concerned and we care about this issue because of the impact this plan will have on our jobs and our future. There are 25 freight railroads in Georgia that employ thousands of people. These are not temporary jobs – they are careers. These people’s – my co-workers, your neighbors – precious careers are in jeopardy because of the hit being taken by the coal industry,” Campbell said.
Campbell noted that nearly 40 percent of all freight railroad cars in the U.S. are coal cars, accounting for 25 percent of the freight rail industry’s revenue and 20 percent of all freight rail jobs.
“Hauling coal is a big part of what our members do and it accounts for about 20 percent of all freight railroad jobs in America,” said SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich. “Our state directors are playing a vital role in trying to make this proposed rule workable.”
Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch noted that Pennsylvania State Legislative Director Paul Pokrowka and Colorado State Legislative Director Carl Smith would be also be testifying at EPA hearings in their home states this week.
Added Risch: “This proposed rule, coupled with EPA’s recently enacted mercury rule, will cause one-third of our nations coal-fired power plants to shut down in the next six years.”
“We are working with our allies in Washington on ways to make carbon capture and storage economically viable so coal remains a part of America’s energy mix for the foreseeable future,” National Legislative Director James Stem said.
Campbell went on to provide SMART Transportation Division’s suggestions for amending the proposed Clean Power Plan, including providing states with credit for prior carbon dioxide reductions and delaying implementation of the plan by several years to allow states and affected sources adequate time to prepare and submit state plans.
“We believe that the rule is premature since we do not know the extent to which other nations, particularly large developing countries, will be willing to commit to a truly global program of greenhouse gas reductions,” Campbell said. “We, America, cannot ‘go it alone’ and expect that our actions will have any meaningful climate impact in a world economy that is using more coal and other fossil fuels every day. Developing nations already emit more carbon dioxide than advanced industrial nations, and the Department of Energy projects that their share of global emissions will grow steadily, and will continue to do so, regardless of what the United States decides to do.
“Before I surrender the microphone, I want to make something clear. I love our environment and I am thankful for the clean air we breathe. That being said, I value my career on the railroad that allows me to provide for my family.
“As a middle class worker, speaking on behalf of other middle class workers, I plead with the EPA to listen to our recommendations and work to find a sensible, common sense solution that works for everyone.”
SMART Transportation Division Georgia State Legislative Director Matt Campbell, right, testifies at a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearing July 29 in Atlanta regarding the agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.
WASHINGTON – The Association of American Railroads (AAR) issued the following statement by President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan proposal.
“While AAR is still reviewing the proposal, freight railroads are concerned about the economic consequences the rule could have for both the coal industry and the larger American economy. We must not lose sight of the energy needs required to maintain our nation’s well-being and economic competitiveness in the years ahead. EPA needs to strike the right balance between environmental goals and technological and economic feasibility, and avoid actions that undermine job growth or place American manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage in world markets.”