Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey says the Obama administration’s plan to tackle climate change by cutting carbon emissions from power plants would place an unfair burden on Pennsylvania.
The overall goal is to cut emissions by 30 percent nationwide by the year 2030. States will be directed to craft plans to meet their own specific targets.
Pennsylvania – the nation’s third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide and fourth-largest coal producer – would be required to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by about 32 percent over the next 15 years.
Casey’s comments were part of a 22-page letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. In the letter, he supports the general mission of the EPA’s proposal to stem the impacts of climate change, which Casey says would negatively effect public health and national security.
“So for all these reasons, we must reject the status quo and look in the other direction, our clean energy future in which we rise to the challenge of climate change…,” he writes.
However, Casey finds fault with how the plan would impact Pennsylvania.
He said Pennsylvania is being tasked with substantially increasing renewable energy such as wind or solar power, even though federal data show that the state is technically limited compared to other states to do so.
Mr. Casey also said the EPA plan fails to credit Pennsylvania for clean power sources such as existing hydropower and nuclear power. And he said the proposal does not take into account the environmental value of Pennsylvania plants that provide energy by burning coal refuse, which otherwise would litter the state’s landscape.
Pennsylvania relies on coal for about 40 percent of its electricity, with another 35 percent from nuclear, and 21 percent from natural gas.
“If waste-coal power plants did not exist to remove the legacy coal refuse piles, then greater potential exists for uncontrolled releases of carbon and other harmful air pollution,” Mr. Casey said, adding that those plants have saved the state’s taxpayers between $100 million and $200 million in potential cleanup costs.
Casey’s Republican counterpart, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey has also criticized the plan for being “hostile” on the state’s coal industry.
Read Casey’s letter below: