Northwest Colorado responds to EPA's proposed regulations

Under newly proposed EPA regulations, coal-fired power plants will need to reduce their carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

— The Environmental Protection Agency released a plan Monday, proposing that coal-fired power plants reduce their carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030.

The EPA was mandated by the White House to develop a proposed strategy by June to cut such emissions in the U.S.

Carbon emissions are cited as a cause of global warming.

“By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids,” EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said in a press release.

The announcement brought celebration from environmentalists and condemnation from traditional energy advocates.

President Barack Obama "has been intent on closing coal-fired power plants for at least six years now. But today, they finally pulled the trigger on the nuclear option,” Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid said. “This will have a chain reaction throughout the whole country. This will have negative consequences on the whole county.”

Kinkaid worked at Craig Station, a coal-fired power plant owned by Tri-State, for more than 30 years.

Lee Boughey, senior manager of corporate communications and public affairs for Tri-State, said the company intends to keep up with the technology and still provide affordable power. Tri-State is in the process of reviewing the proposed regulations.

“The EPA’s proposed carbon standards are complex and will require thorough evaluation before we will know how they will affect our association in the states we operate,” he said in an email. “We will work to ensure that any carbon standards allow us to continue to deliver affordable and reliable power to our members and the rural communities they serve.”

Craig Station already has taken technological steps toward less carbon emissions, he said.

“We continue to look at technology options. This includes: efficiency improvements at our power plants and investing in carbon management technology research, development and demonstration projects that could offer solutions,” Boughey said in the email. “The geologic sequestration assessment project, completed near Craig Station, is an example of our work to develop potential approaches to manage emissions.”

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., came out strongly against the new regulations.

“Instead of working toward a responsible all-of-the-above strategy needed for a secure and stable energy future, the president is picking winners and losers and waging a war on America’s most abundant and affordable energy resources,” Tipton said. “This administration’s potential regulations are already having a serious impact on rural communities in the third district — including Craig, Hayden, Gunnison and Delta — and will only get worse should this proposed rule be implemented.”

But U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said that this was a crucial step toward combating climate change and that Colorado already was taking the lead on these issues.

“I support the president’s action to curb dangerous carbon pollution because Colorado is already experiencing the negative effects of a changing climate. The constant threat of wildfire, prolonged drought that imperils our $40 billion agriculture industry and our shortened winters (and ski season) and longer summers all demand action,” he said in a statement. “For years, our state has led the nation by forging common-sense energy solutions that reduce harmful pollution, including our renewable portfolio standard, the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act, and the recent, industry-supported rules regarding fugitive methane.”

The Clean Jobs Act prompted Hayden Station, a coal-fired power plant, to spend $160 million in upgrades to reduce emissions.

The proposed regulations will undergo a 120-day comment period that will include public hearings across the country, with one in Denver the week of July 28. The regulations will be finalized in June 2015.

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

Community comments

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(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

The sky is falling!! The sky is falling!!

My guess is that Craig and Hayden are already compliant -- both installed scrubbers and precipitators years ago, Hayden as a result of a Sierra Club lawsuit, resulting in vastly cleaner emissions.

For years the Bush administrations exempted coal-fired power plants from EPA emissions requirements, citing the prohibitive costs of retrofits to their owners -- while in actuality those improvements would immediately start paying for themselves, in a more efficient operation, with less waste -- and the costs would be passed on to the consumer anyway.

If ALL coal-fired's lived up to the standard Hayden and Craig do, that would go a long way toward cutting our carbon footprint, and is the intent of the current action, I believe. Of course, this just gives the activists and professional talkers more fuel for their fires.

Posted 4 June 2014, 8:01 a.m. Suggest removal

(Cresean) crash says...

I think that Hayden and Craig installed scrubbers back in the late 90's but not sure.

Posted 4 June 2014, 10:03 a.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Around '94, for Hayden anyway, if memory serves... the brown cloud which accompanied an inversion in the winter rivaled anything Denver could offer, here, before that; it also prompted the wood-burning fireplace ban. The Sierra Club proved how Hayden's emissions were killing trees in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area, resulting in the scrubbers etc, more to the tune of $400 million-plus. This action will have no local impact. Other places it'll just make for some good work. The affected plants will just run more efficiently in the future, ultimately saving energy and money as well as polluting less.

Dad had a contract on the initial Hayden plant, early '70's I think, said he could've gotten a slopeside condo here for $17K. Hindsight is golden.

Posted 4 June 2014, 10:19 a.m. Suggest removal

(Cresean) crash says...

Thanks for the info Rhys. :~)

Posted 4 June 2014, 12:11 p.m. Suggest removal

(mark hartless) markhartless says...

Can't make "green" energy cheap so let's make cheap energy expensive.

Posted 4 June 2014, 8:40 a.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

It appears this will have little impact in Colorado because Hickenlooper's plan sets a similar goal for 2020 which is 10 years sooner than Obama's plan.

Posted 4 June 2014, 9:40 a.m. Suggest removal

(jerry carlton) jlc says...

I have always wondered what would happen if a local government told a state or federal government or court to go p.. in the wind? The last time I wondered this was when a federal court told Routt County to build a new court house. This is a similar subject. Would they send in federal troops or the state national guard? I guess they would since the Civil War proved the Federal government will use any steps necessary to hold on to their power.

Posted 5 June 2014, 6:12 p.m. Suggest removal

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