(Jackson Hole News and Guide, August 22) -Gov. Matt Mead and coal industry executives at a seminar in Jackson on Thursday blasted recent Environmental Protection Agency attempts to regulate air pollutants emitted from coal-fired power plants.
A long list of new EPA regulations will drive up the cost of energy, the governor said repeatedly during a roundtable discussion at the Rocky Mountain Energy & Infrastructure Summit. The event was held at the Center for the Arts.
“We have such a good counterargument that we haven’t used,” Mead said. “Do you want your grandma’s heating bill to go up 200 percent? Do you want your son not to get that first car? Do you want to not be able to afford groceries?”
Wyoming, by far the largest producer of coal in the United States, has 14 pending lawsuits against the EPA, Mead said.
“In fact I have stopped getting Christmas cards from them,” the governor said.
Shane Durgin, the president and general manager of a coal mine near Gillette, referred to the EPA as a “common enemy” for anyone in the industry.
The most heavily targeted EPA regulation during the panel discussion was its section 111(d), which allows the agency to set new emissions standards for existing power plants. The EPA’s section 111(d) also allows for the regulation of carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
“This is a big one,” Mead said. “It’s a big, big rule.”
Coal produces approximately twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas and is considered the most greenhouse-gas-intensive mainstream source of electricity generation.
Climate change experts view carbon dioxide emissions — from power plants, transportation and other sources — as the largest human contribution to recent rises in the temperature of the planet.
“I’m a skeptic, but others are not,” Mead said. “We’re putting all of our efforts into this name-calling.”
“What are the solutions?” he asked. “And there are solutions.”
One person from the audience asked why the coal industry couldn’t come together and just disregard EPA regulations.
Mead dismissed the idea.
“If that is in fact the law, good or bad, these guys have to follow it,” he said. “We are a nation of laws.”
Gov. Mead said that some of Wyoming’s disputes with the EPA will likely soon be resolved in courts.
“In terms of water, air, we want the state to have greater primacy in all these things,” he said. “The challenge is the federal government does these things, and they don’t take into account — in my view — what the different states are doing.
“They argue back [that] air is not defined by state boundaries, it doesn’t know which state it’s over, and so they have to have some sort of rules,” the governor said.