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Will Clean Power Plan Chart West Virginia's Energy Course?

The Obama administration plan to cut emissions at coal-fired power plants would affect 11 plants in West Virginia. Conservationists are hailing the move, while the coal industry and its allies are threatening legal challenges. Photo credit: Greg Stotelmyer.
The Obama administration plan to cut emissions at coal-fired power plants would affect 11 plants in West Virginia. Conservationists are hailing the move, while the coal industry and its allies are threatening legal challenges. Photo credit: Greg Stotelmyer.
August 4, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – President Obama has finalized plans to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants by 32 percent by 2030.

Conservationists say the EPA's Clean Power Plan, which targets older, coal-fired plants, will have immense health benefits and boost clean energy efforts in the Mountain State. Currently, West Virginia receives more than 95 percent of its electricity from coal.

Jim Kotcon, energy committee chair with the Sierra Club West Virginia Chapter, says the plan should reduce the amount of electricity produced by coal in the state to between 70 and 80 percent, which he sees as a start toward energy diversity.

"There are already plans for more wind energy, new natural gas-fired power plants and so on," he says. "I think that's good for West Virginia."

In a short statement, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin called the regulations "unreasonable, unrealistic and ultimately unattainable."

The coal industry has urged the governor to refuse to submit a compliance plan to the EPA, but Tomblin says he hasn't made a decision yet. Kotcon says utilities are "dragging their feet" on energy efficiency.

"Energy efficiency programs could meet a much larger proportion of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions that EPA's asking for, than even EPA anticipates," he says. "That would help save consumers money and create a lot of jobs."

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, renewable resources provided only 3.5 percent of West Virginia's power last year. Around the state, eleven coal-fired electric generating plants will be affected by the plan to reduce pollution.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - WV