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article imageOp-Ed: House GOP pressures EPA on carbon emissions proposal

By Karen Graham     Nov 17, 2013 in Politics
On Friday, Republican leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee called for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw a proposal to impose carbon dioxide emission limits on new coal-fired power plants.
Reducing carbon emissions is a no-brainer in cleaning up the atmosphere and reducing greenhouse gases. But using technologies that have not proven to be commercially feasible, as well as cost prohibitive is not the answer to the problem.
In a letter to EPA Director Gina McCarthy the committee argued that the EPA trying to impose the standards was "beyond the scope of its legal authority."
The technology the EPA is requiring new power plants to incorporate into their design is called carbon-capture. It involves the storing of the carbon underground. The agency outlined their proposal in September when they set the new emission caps for new power plants.
The new technology is expensive and according to critics, would effectively kill the coal industry in this country, leaving over 800,000 coal miners out of a job. Besides not being commercially available, there are some serious safety risks that haven't been addressed.
The EPA is saying the "carbon-capture" technology that will be required under the new standards for power plants has been "adequately demonstrated," based on the results of three government funded projects. But the agency has run up against a legal prohibition from using the projects as justification for the proposed regulations, say GOP leaders.
Diagram developed by MIT showing partial carbon-capture sequestration technology.
Diagram developed by MIT showing partial carbon-capture sequestration technology.
One of the biggest concerns of critics is safety of the technology. The fact that CO2 will be stored, or buried underground raises the question of the safety to the surrounding population in the event of a sudden leak. While there is supposed to be a "non-return" safety valve, the accidental rupture of an injection pipe is still a possibility. If this were to happen, thousands of people and any animal-life would be in danger.
One has to wonder where the EPA, in all its wisdom, got the idea for construction of coal-fired power plants using an untried and never-before-used technology would be economically feasible.
All anyone has to do is look at two carbon-storage power plants under construction today. One is in Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada, and the other is in Kemper County, Mississippi. The Mississippi plant is scheduled to open in May 2014.
Kemper CCS power plant in Kemper County Mississippi.
Kemper CCS power plant in Kemper County Mississippi.
On November 8, Kemper County played host to several world leaders and the Director of the EPA, on a tour of the new Mississippi plant. What was not discussed was the $4.7 billion cost, or the $1 billion cost overrun for the project.
The EPA Director was asked about rate hikes, an important consideration in the overall cost of clean energy. McCarthy said that rate increases were to be expected with any new major power plant coming on line. How about a 30 percent rate increase?
SaskPower s Boundary Dam Power Plant.
SaskPower's Boundary Dam Power Plant.
Magnus Manske
The Boundary Dam Power Station, in Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada is a slightly smaller plant, also expected to be open in 2014. Where the Kemper plant is expected to produce 585 mw, the Boundary Dam power station will prduce 110 mw. Boundary Dam is costing an estimated $1.355 billion, of which there is a $115 million cost overrun.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Coalfired, power plants, Carbon capture, energy costs, Epa
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