Justices Back Rule Limiting Coal Pollution
The use of coal in electric generation is an issue where, on a national level, we should determine the optimum balance for the nation’s mix of energy used, air quality, and cost.
In producing electricity, coal plants emit carbon dioxide and other gases/particles that flow along the prevailing winds. These winds blow predominantly from West to East. Consequently, coal generation in the Mid-West accumulates higher concentrations of those emissions on the East Coast. This results in lower air quality and restrictions on what East Coast states can emit because their air is then already considered unhealthy.
The ruling by the Supreme Court will cause EPA to issue rulings that, when implemented, will try to rebalance coal usage (which is still our most abundant fuel) with air quality and cost.
One result will be greater reliance on natural gas for power generation. Generally the emissions are less and costs are less, but depending on a single source of energy (be it coal, wind, natural gas or nuclear power) puts the nation at greater risk of a single event causing widespread interruption.
Take this winter as an example; between January and March 2014 the phrase “winter vortex” was coined to describe a FIRST of its KIND EVENT for the tri-states of Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana. Such severe cold weather caused a simultaneous spike not only in natural gas (and propane) but also in electric costs because 30-60% of peak electricity is generated from natural gas. A move to retire existing coal-fired power plants and replace them with natural gas will further concentrate the impact that severe weather conditions or a natural gas pipeline disruption could have on consumers.
That balance will have to be agreed upon and with it will come a variety of different outcomes.
Please let us know what issues you think should be taken into consideration to achieve a workable balance.
Read the entire New York Times article, “Justices Back Rule Limiting Coal Pollution”