Local Control of Coal
June 19, 2014
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania's House
of Representatives is taking steps to try to ensure lawmakers have the final
say over any state plan to comply with proposed new federal rules to cut carbon
dioxide pollution from power plants.
Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk) and Tommy Sankey (R-Clearfield) both endorsed
the measure that asks the federal government to allow Pennsylvania to make its
own decisions with regard to developing guidelines for the regulation of carbon
dioxide emissions from existing power plants. House Resolution 815 passed the
House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and may now be taken up by
the full House.
and Sankey, both members of the committee, issued the following statement upon
passage of the resolution:
we were debating this bill in Harrisburg, a long line of dedicated coal miners stood outside a congressional hearing room
in Washington, D.C., waiting to testify on the first day of the comment period
for the federal government’s proposed regulation for existing power plants. They are fighting for their jobs and their
families, and we are doing likewise in supporting House Resolution 815, a piece
of common sense, bipartisan legislation that goes beyond party lines and into
the homes of thousands of hard-working Pennsylvanians.
“The coal industry employs more
than 41,000 people and is a major source of tax revenue on the local, state and
federal level (approximately $700 million altogether). All told, coal’s
economic benefit to the state is estimated to exceed $7 billion.
“Coal provides reliable,
low-cost energy not only for our state, but for many surrounding states that we
service as the
largest net exporter of electric power in the United States. The coal industry
is aware of its bad reputation and has reacted with technological advances and
smarter land use that make it a necessary component of any diversified energy
addition to being an energy issue, this is a states’ rights issue. Under the
federal Clean Air Act, states are empowered with the ability to develop plans
for establishing and implementing standards of performance for existing sources
of emissions. They are allowed to adopt less stringent emissions standards or
longer compliance schedules based on certain factors that make those standards
more reasonable. The impact closing coal-fired power plants will have on
Pennsylvania’s employment picture and the pocketbooks of its citizens through
higher energy prices easily fit that definition.
“Gina McCarthy, the head of the Environmental Protection
Agency, verified a few days ago the federal government is involved in a war on
coal. We, as members of the General Assembly, are asking to uphold our right to
not get involved in this war and be allowed to decide what is best for our
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is
critical of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule, saying
he's worried it'll damage Pennsylvania's coal industry. His opponent in
November's election, Democrat Tom Wolf, says it provides an opportunity for
leadership from the governor.
States won't have to submit a state
plan before 2016. The EPA would establish a plan for a state that doesn't
submit a plan, or a plan it approved.