Protecting our energy supply: Missouri House votes to give state new authority

With the federal government moving toward greater regulation of greenhouse gas—regulation that threatens to shutter critical power generation sources—the Missouri House has taken action to protect our state’s interests.

In 2009, President Barack Obama pledged to combat the effects of global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050. Toward this goal, he directed the EPA to promulgate rules regulating emissions for new and existing coal-fired power plants.

The rules for new power plant construction were released in January. They effectively prohibit the construction of new coal power plants until technology is developed to capture and store emissions underground. Such technology is years, or perhaps decades, from being ready for mainstream power generation — if ever.

Expectations are that the new regulations for existing power plants will be released in June. If these restrictions follow the path of the restrictions on new power plants, Missouri’s energy supply could be in danger.

Nearly 85 percent of Missouri’s electrical energy needs are supplied by coal. The new regulations might force many of Missouri’s existing coal plants into retirement, leaving the state with nothing to fill the energy void.

The result will be a dramatic increase in energy costs across the board. Missouri consumers can expect direct increases of at least 25 – 35 percent for energy usage, and even more from non-direct economic impacts. The price of goods and services will soar dramatically as consumers absorb the increased costs of production and distribution that result from a forced reduction in energy output.

To help protect against this, the Missouri House has passed House Bill 1631. This bill would allow Missouri to exert the full force of its authority under the Clean Air Act to make regulatory decisions locally that are in the best interest of our state. It charges the state’s Air Conservation Commission to develop emissions standards and compliance schedules—rather than wait for the federal Environmental Protection Agency to specify these for Missouri.

“At the end of the day, we think Missouri is in a better position to determine that rather than bureaucrats in Washington,” said bill sponsor Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff.

The House passed the bill by a wide margin.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports this legislation and is closely watching how the EPA chooses to issue future regulations. We will keep our members informed.

For more information about environmental issues, contact Jay Atkins, at jatkins@mochamber.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.

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