EPA Carbon Rule Dooms Efficient Coal Plant

Published September 16, 2014

One of the nation’s most efficient, clean-burning coal power plants will be shuttered in a few years because bringing it into compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new carbon dioxide reduction rule would be too expensive. A similar fate awaits coal-fired power plants throughout the country.

Operated by the South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. (SCE&G), the 60 year old McMeekin Power Station has an undersized boiler that would normally put it at a competitive disadvantage versus more modern facilities. The secrets of its success include, the plant’s long history of rigorous maintenance and its proximity to Lake Murray, which provides McMeekin with 45-degree water year-round. Cold water from the lake’s bottom helps produce an excellent heat rate.

The EPA’s proposed “Clean Power Plan,” issued June 2, requires states to reduce power plants carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Reluctantly, SCE&G determined the investments required for McMeekin to comply with EPA’s mandate are not economically justified. Accordingly, the plant is set to close in 2019.

State Attorneys General Oppose

Thirteen states attorneys general sent an Aug. 26 letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, demanding the agency withdraw the proposed CO2 rule. They allege EPA failed to disclose information to the public as required under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

The CAA requires EPA to publish data, information, and documents on policy considerations underlying the proposed rule. According to the letter, EPA failed to produce 84 percent of the modeling runs on which it based its proposed emissions rule. The EPA also neglected to release net heat rate and emissions data.

“Without such missing data and supporting materials, states and the public cannot properly determine the basis on which EPA claims that these emissions standards are achievable and reasonable,” the attorneys general wrote. Without this information, EPA has “failed to provide an accurate picture of the reasoning” behind its regulatory action.

Signing the letter were attorneys general for Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Obama: Full Speed Ahead

The Obama administration is pushing an aggressive climate change agenda including a new international agreement under the auspices of the United Nations, which administration officials argue would not be a treaty and thus not require Senate ratification.

“President Obama could accomplish much if only he would listen to Democratic and Republican senators instead of trying to bypass them and the American people,” said Daniel Simmons, vice president for policy at the Washington-based Institute for Energy Research.

“The American people do not want to pay more for energy, and they want a government that is transparent. The president should rescind the Clean Power Plan and he should pursue no agreement that does not require Senate ratification,” Simmons added.

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., ([email protected]) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.

Internet Info:

Attorneys General Letter to Administrator Gina McCarthy, August 26, 2014, http://heartland.org/policy-documents/13-states-attorneys-general-epa-letter