Industry Concerned About Administration's New Coal Emissions Rules

New clean-energy rules make some worry about the safety of plant workers and the public.

New clean-energy rules approved by the Obama administration have sparked concerns from the coal industry, according to an article from Fox News. The EPA rules may require new power plants to use technology that could be dangerous to the general public.

The Fox News article references the fact that "the president’s former top energy official once warned [the technology] could 'kill.'" The technology is still under development and is therefore expensive and not available in the commercial market.

According to an article from the New York Times, even though the coal industry fought back against the proposed regulations, the Obama administration announced it would not back down and "would press ahead with enacting the first federal carbon limits on the nation's power companies."

According to the New York Times article, the proposed regulations from Obama are an aggressive move by him to bypass Congress on climate change. The article suggests House Republicans and the industry will denounce the regulations as part of what they call Obama's "war on coal."

The newly proposed rules would limit new gas-fired power plants to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt hour and new coal plants to 1,100. According to the New York Times article, the current coal plant emits, on average, roughly 1,800 pounds per hour. The technology that would need to be used to meet the emissions caps is carbon-capture technology, which means plants would have to bury the carbon underground. The main safety concern brought up in 2007, according to the Fox News article, is that although the carbon would be stable in the long term, its initial state as a "bubble of gas" may leak to the surface, which could kill people. Though carbon dioxide is not lethal in small doses, large amounts in confined spaces could cause harm.

Some believe another issue of implementing the technology is how costly it will be—it could cost in the billions. Though some companies have pursued the technology over the last few years, none have actually implemented it. The newly proposed rules will have a 60-day public commentary period.

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