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Powerful Living EPA’s Power Gamble—a Risk We Can’t Afford A


mong the many things government can do in the broad public inter- est, and surely among the fi rst things it should do, is to secure an affordable and reliable supply of electricity for its people and its


industries. The blessings of liberty may be secured by laws and custom, but the blessings of modern civilization are unthinkable without electricity, a truly indispensable commodity in the 21st century. Our country has enjoyed the advantage of low-cost electricity for so long that we may be taking it for granted. This may be about to change. That’s the disturbing conclusion we draw from regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fi red power plants. EPA would require new coal-fi red plants to use carbon capture technology that has not yet been proven on a commercial scale for power plants and is very unlikely to be available for at least a decade or more. The deliberate effect is to rule out for future use the one energy source that provides more electricity than any other. The agen- cy’s proposal leaves us with little doubt about its intentions for regulating emissions from existing coal plants with a separate rule expected to be pro- posed this summer.


Aside from the doubtful legality of mandating undemonstrated technol- ogy for real world application, EPA’s approach is irresponsible as public policy in two ways.


APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN FOR SKIE AWARDS


Do you know an innovative educator who “reaches for the sky” to promote student learning?


Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and the K20 Center are seeking applications from innovative Oklahoma educators for the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives


SKIE Award.


This award celebrates educators across the state who have demonstrated the ability to link student learning with the innovative use of technology and the K20 IDEALS (k20center. ou.edu/about/ideals). Six regional awardees and one state awardee will be honored at the


K20 Innovative Learning Conference (ILI) on November


. The state winner will receive a personal $1500 cash award. The regional winners will receive $500 each in


4th personal cash awards.


Applications are open to all teachers in the state and are due May 16, 2014. Encourage innovative educators you know to apply.


An application form is available online at k20center.ou.edu/skie


Supporting K20 Innovative Educators [All Educators are welcome to apply.]


First, the agency is taking a dangerous gamble with the nation’s economy. By removing coal from future use, EPA weakens, if not destroys, what has been a strength of our economy—a diversifi ed energy portfolio. The result is a far less reliable electricity grid, a risky reliance on one major fuel source for generating base load power, and the certain prospect of higher electricity prices. Lincoln advised us “not to swap horses in midstream.” Good advice now as then. The gamble EPA is taking with affordable and reliable electricity is disturb- ing enough, but even more so for being entirely unnecessary for environ- mental improvement. EPA could achieve signifi cant and steady reductions in greenhouse gas emissions without sending price shocks throughout the economy by requiring best-in-class technology that is available for use today. Gasifi cation and supercritical coal are proven technologies suitable for large- scale use, effective for reducing emissions and available for new plant con- struction. Compared to older plants they replace, advanced plants with these technologies use at least a third less coal to generate the same amount of electricity and emit 35 percent less carbon dioxide. This common sense ap- proach would minimize further loss of coal-generating capacity that has already greatly exceeded the agency’s forecasts. In fact, EPA’s estimates of plant retirements from its regulations have proven as fl awed as its reassur- ances that its rules will impose little or no costs on consumers. Because EPA insists on ignoring common sense solutions, we are propos- ing one of our own. Our bill will base emissions standards for new plants on the best performing technologies actually in use today. For existing plants, Congress will weigh in to ensure that states are accorded the proper role intended for them under the Clean Air Act, and that consumers are not subject to skyrocketing costs. Far from barring EPA from controlling green- house gas emissions, by insisting on standards based on proven technologies our approach will actually work. We will not improve the livelihood of Americans or the health of the environment with emissions standards based on technologies that are un- proven with costs that are unaffordable. It’s time we provided workable solu- tions, not unrealistic aspirations.


K20CENTER The University of Oklahoma


Article reprinted with permission from Rep. Ed Whitfi eld (R-Ky.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).


APRIL 2014 5


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