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Meetings Held on Crude By Rail and Clean Power Plan

Last week the Senate Transportation and Energy and Environmental Resources committees held a joint informational meeting on the movement of crude oil by rail.

Industry professionals from Norfolk Southern, CSX, Philadelphia Energy Solutions and the Petroleum Institute of America joined state and local officials from Lancaster County, the PUC, PEMA and the Governor’s Office. Testimony focused around what the railroads and the emergency responders have been doing to ensure that communities in the path of crude oil trains are safe as well as what the Commonwealth needs to do moving forward.

Dr. Allan Zarembski, special advisor to the Governor, testified that his role during the next three months will be to look at issues related to the shipment of crude by rail. His analysis will focus on three main areas of safety – derailment risk, tank car breach/rupture risk, and regulatory oversight.

The Coal Caucus held a meeting to learn more about the impact of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

During the hearing Coal Alliance CEO John Pippy noted that the EPA has taken advantage of the current market conditions to deliver a devastating blow to the coal industry.  “While the price of natural gas is sure to fluctuate and the demand for electricity to rise as the economy strengthens, this regulation will be the cheap shot that cripples the industry from rebounding when the demand market returns,” Pippy said.

“Plainly stated, to achieve the carbon dioxide reduction goals from existing generators, the plan must significantly limit the use of coal and coal-refuse and then mandate other resources to provide the necessary electricity to preserve electric grid reliability,” said Vince Brisini of Olympus Power.  “This regulation appears to be drafted to speed the retirement of the coal-fired and coal refuse-fired electric generation industry in the United States and to provide mandated markets for other electricity resources.”

“It should make a lot of people here angry,” said state Senator Gene Yaw, co-chair of the Senate Coal Caucus.  We’re going against diversity in our energy field.  The proposed regulations by the EPA should concern everyone, especially electric rate payers.”

Representative Jeff Pyle, chair of the House Coal Caucus, emphasized that “this is a discussion that has to be had” and indicated that he would like the testifiers back another time when they will have more time to answer questions from the caucus members.