Coal in the Doldrums: Is the EPA to Blame?

In a wide ranging interview with Grist reporters Chip Giller and Scott Rosenberg on her tenure at the helm of the EPA, Lisa Jackson discusses the administration’s position on coal. It’s been accused of waging a war on it by coal supporters.

"In 2009 President Obama appointed Jackson to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency she'd worked at for 16 years before serving in New Jersey's environmental agency."

Jackson states that EPA has responded to court orders in addressing pollutants emitted from power plants. Then there's pollution from "the extraction of the coal in some cases, the burning of the coal, which gives soot and smog-forming pollution, and mercury and lead and arsenic and cadmium and acid gases and then you've got to get rid of the ash! (And then there's) carbon pollution: it's the most carbon-intense fossil fuel. And the president invested in carbon capture and sequestration technology as part of the Recovery Act."

In response to the "war on coal" accusation, Jackson points to other reasons for coal's downfall.

"In my opinion the problem for coal right now is entirely economic. The natural gas that this country has and is continuing to develop is cheaper right now on average....It just happens that at the same time, these (EPA) rules are coming in place that make it clear that you cannot continue to operate a 30-, 40-, or 50-year old plant and not control the pollution that comes with it."

Not all point the blame solely at low natural gas prices. Reporting for E&E Greenwire (subscription), Manuel Quinones provides a Moody's Investors opinion - and rating: "On (June 8), Moody's Investors Service Inc. changed its outlook of the coal industry to "negative." The ratings and analysis agency said it expected some of the declines in coal consumption to be permanent."

"A regulatory environment that puts coal at a disadvantage, along with low natural gas prices, have led many utilities to increase or accelerate their scheduled coal-plant retirements," Moody's vice president and senior analyst Anna Zubets-Anderson said in a statement.

"In addition, newly proposed U.S. carbon dioxide regulations would effectively prohibit new coal plants by requiring new projects to adopt technology that is not yet economically feasible," she said.

Thanks to E&E Publishing - Greenwire

Full Story: ‘Screaming headlines’ vs. reasonable people: A talk with the EPA’s Lisa Jackson

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