PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – Pittsburgh will host one of four national public hearings on the Obama administration’s plan to limit carbon dioxide pollution from electric power plants.
The proposal could bring much cleaner air to Pennsylvania, but coal-fired power plants would be forced to spend far more money on reducing pollution.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scheduled a public hearing on the proposed rule for Downtown Pittsburgh on July 31 at 9 a.m., at the Federal Building on Liberty Avenue.
Jay Apt, an electric power expert at Carnegie Mellon University, says coal could still be a significant source of power in the state if the industry embraces new technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
Gov. Tom Corbett’s said he is concerned these changes could have a devastating impact on coal-fired plants.
“As Pennsylvanians, we are doing our fair share to reduce carbon emissions, and we have made great strides in recent years. While we continue to review the EPA’s proposed rulemaking in detail, I am concerned that these new mandates will eventually shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country and destroy thousands of family-sustaining jobs. Those reports, if true, are unacceptable,” Corbett said in a statement.
Corbett said that roughly 63,000 men and women, including 8,100 miners, work in jobs supported by the coal industry.
“We have been proactive in Pennsylvania by outlining our common-sense approach to reduce emissions in a recent white paper that we shared with the EPA. We will review the EPA’s latest proposed rulemaking in detail to see if the Obama Administration took seriously their professed commitment to public input.
Environmentalist like Tom Hoffman are applauding the administration proposal to reduce carbon emission by 30 percent.
“We don’t inherit this planet form our parents we borrow it from our kids and when I read that 25 percent of Pittsburgh school kids have asthma — three times the national rate — I’d say we have to do something about that here,” Hoffman said.
But in Homer City — the new regulations are a cause for alarm — with the Homer City power plant providing nearly three hundred jobs — tax revenue to the Homer-Center School District and more.
Once one of the dirtiest in the nation — Homer City’s new owners have invested $750 million dollar in upgrades to curb mercury and sulfur dioxide pollution. But the new rigs have given rise to new fears of a shutdown.
“It would be devastating — especially when you’ve spent all this money to meet the standard. then you meet the standards and the game plan changes again,” Hoffman said.
GE Energy which owns the Homer City plant says it must study the regulations before commenting — but First Energy, the owner of Beaver County’s Bruce Mansfield plant, says it believes it can meet them. In Homer City they hope the plant can also comply with the federal regulations.
“I understand they’re fight and their issues but I hope we can all come to come agreement and keep this power plant because it is important,” Hoffman said.
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