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Coal Caucus Holds its own Hearing on Clean Power Plan

Last week, the DEP concluded its series of public hearings for reactions and comments on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.  DEP Secretary John Quigley said the state is close to writing a first draft of its proposal to meet the requirements of the Clean Power Plan.  He noted that Pennsylvania’s plan will be better than the model federal plan EPA presented in Pittsburgh last week, one that takes away state flexibility.

On Tuesday, the state’s House and Senate bipartisan coal caucuses held their own hearing to get testimony about the impacts of EPA’s Clean Power plan on the coal industry.  Sen. Gene Yaw (R, Lycoming) called the situation for the coal industry in Pennsylvania “a tragedy,” a position voiced by members of both parties. 

John Pippy, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, told lawmakers at the hearing that the EPA’s actions were “illegal” and in his testimony, discussed that position.

“With this rule, the EPA is attempting to transform itself from an environmental regulator to a central planning agency for states’ energy economies,” Pippy said. “The EPA’s brazen governmental overreach is a prime example of governmental bureaucracy run rampant. This power grab by the EPA has been challenged in the courts and there is a good chance that it will be found wanting.”

Pippy emphasized that the state needs to take the full three years available to it to properly assess its energy needs before making a decision the EPA’s ruling.

Rep. Pam Snyder (D, Greene) agreed that time needs to be taken in making this decision, noting her fears over loss of jobs in the district.  She said she would help in any way she can to ensure coal is part of the energy portfolio.

Rep. Brandon Neuman (D, Washington) expressed concern about the volatility of prices and the impact of trading coal fired generating plants with natural gas.  Industry experts said the rule would limit coal as a feedstock option, and expressed their opinion that by 2018, when exports of LNG balance gas markets, there would be significant rate increases for consumers.