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In Texas Where Coal Is Major Source Of Power, What Will ‘Clean Power Plan’ Mean?

President Obama today announced the Clean Power Plan to drastically reduce pollution from coal-burning power plants. What could the plan mean for the air in Texas?

W.A Parish coal plant
Biggest power plant in Texas: the W.A Parish plant in Fort Bend County

 

Groups working on behalf of the energy industry were quick to attack the new Clean Power Rule.

A new video from a Washington-based group, the Environmental Policy Alliance said warnings of the end of fossil fuels were often wrong.

“Their doomsday predictions have been proven wrong time and time again,” says the narrator as old video of President Jimmy Carter and “gas shortage” signs flash across the screen. 

“The fact is Texas still gets more than a third of its power from coal,” says Anastasia Swearingen is a senior research analyst for the group. 

One of the biggest coal-fired plants is just south of Sugar Land and has been ranked fifth in the nation for emitting the most carbon dioxide. But Swearingen says it’s debatable how much good will be achieved by EPA’s plan to cut CO2 and along with it pollution linked to things like asthma. 

“A lot of that is still up in the air and there’s been a lot of criticism about how the EPA has calculated the benefits of the rule,” says Swearingen.

Environmentalists say the opposite, that health studies leave no doubt the coal-burning power plants produce harmful pollution, both to people and the climate.

“We need to reduce over the coming decades the carbon dioxide output by 80 percent. We’re not on track to get there, we got to start speeding up the process,” says Jim Marston, founder of the Texas office of a national group, the Environmental Defense Fund

Achieving those reductions will mean some coal-burning plants will have to convert to natural gas. Others will have to install equipment to reduce CO2, something that plant near Sugar Land is already doing.

 

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Dave Fehling

Director of News and Public Affairs

As Director of News and Public Affairs, Dave Fehling manages the radio news operation at Houston's NPR station. Previously, he was a reporter at the station, covering the oil & gas industry and its impact on the environment. He won top state honors for in-depth and investigative reporting as well...

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