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CO2-spewing coal on the hot seat in Chicago today

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Steve Frenkel-72.jpg

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.

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Coal is taking such huge hit from the EPA. As we try to be progressive on the environmental issues, we forget that we are stripping away the fundamental things that allow us to generate revenue and provide energy to people at a cheaper rate. Is this really the right time for us to do this? To comply with new coal regulations is a daunting costs( both for businesses and for regular folks. If we want to make the transition away from fossil fuels there should be some more sensitivity involved in how to do so.

[I admire and respect the Union of Concerned Scientists, as many thousands have
since the 1970's. The UCS is accessible and accommodating in that it also accepts non-scientists as members/donors/activists.]

Coal is under fire from many quarters due to: global warming, respiratory diseases, miner safety, mountain top destruction, other environmental effects. The EPA should be heeded regarding their new carbon standards for new power plants, even with all the encouraging talk about processes such as carbon sequestration (capture) and fluidized bed technology--these seem inconclusive or not proven technologies. If not for all the harmful negatives involved with generating energy from coal, I'd gladly support it, as my state (Illinois) sits atop an estimated 400 years worth of coal at current rates of use.

Maybe natural gas will prove to be an answer for U.S. energy independence, if
the fracking problem can be either overcome or disproven as a significant danger;
I need to learn more about it. Most of us interested in promoting safer energy believe in a mix of energy sources, which will vary from region to region.

I do know we must all be honest, resourceful and effortful with respect to improving
our energy production. Failure isn't an option here if we want to survive.

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Frisbie published on May 24, 2012 2:28 PM.

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