Coal isn't getting such a warm reception these days over at the Midwest Office of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding national public hearings to get input from the public about a proposed rule to regulate carbon, which is released into the atmosphere when coal is burned. The hearings are being held both in Chicago and Washington on two separate dates.
Steve Frenkel, UCS Midwest director, thinks the EPA should do what it can discourage utilities from burning coal.
"Coal-fired plants are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States," Frenkel says. "Forty percent of the emissions in the United States come from power plants. Carbon has never been a regulated pollutant under the Clean Air Act - until now."
in March, the EPA issued its first proposed rule to govern emissions of carbon dioxide from new power plants. Natural gas plants can meet the new standard, but new coal-fired plants won't be able to unless they capture the carbon dioxide released from the coal and store it underground, Frenkel said.
The new standard would set a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour for new plants. A typical coal plant emits 1,800 pounds, while a natural gas plant emits less than 800 pounds, the UCS says.
The EPA expects to set separate standards for existing plants, but hasn't done so yet.
According to a UCS fact sheet, Chicago could endure extreme heat emergencies every other year if heat-trapping emissions are not reduced.
"We can adapt to survive some of these things, but we can't adapt our way out of climate change," Frenkel said.
Read the Union of Concerned Scientists press release here.
Follow BackTalk on Twitter@stbacktalk