"Americans count on coal for affordable electricity and employment," the National Mining Association said in an ad published in The Washington Post. "They're telling [the] EPA what they think about its reckless regulations."
The association was referring to citizens from mining communities attending a coal industry rally last week in Washington, timed just before the start of an EPA "listening tour" on climate-change rules that did not include meetings in major coal-production areas.
At a congressional hearing held to coincide with the industry rally, Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, told lawmakers that EPA rules to limit greenhouse gases would help speed development and deployment of CCS.
"With a clear and certain technology-based pollution-reduction target, equipment vendors would have an incentive to develop new carbon-capture systems, and improve existing ones, to lower costs and enhance performance," Weiss testified to a House subcommittee.
"Utilities could seek federal grants or loan guarantees from existing programs, to defray part of the CCS costs," he testified. "Investors would be more inclined to finance the initial generation of CCS plants to gain a 'first mover' advantage, knowing that a market would exist for more plants as the industry scales up.
"Utilities are nervous that public service commissions that oversee their electricity rates will not allow them to recover the costs from the increased expense of building power plants with CCS technology," Weiss said. "An EPA carbon-pollution standard would enable utilities to make a much stronger case for cost recovery, because CCS would be a requirement for any future power plant burning coal."
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has tried to encourage the mining industry and other West Virginia leaders to focus more on supporting efforts to develop and deploy CCS.
"While there are challenges with bringing 'clean coal' to market," Rockefeller said, "it doesn't mean it isn't worth it.
"In America, we meet challenges. We accomplish big things," the senator said. "We've faced and overcome technological challenges in the past. I believe we can -- and will -- meet those challenges again. Everyone has a stake in our state's future -- labor, industry, environmental groups and West Virginia families."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.