Column: HCR 29/Fuel Diversity
By Rep. Andy Thompson (R-Marietta)
November 06, 2013
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Last month, House Concurrent Resolution 29—legislation that I and seven co-sponsors put together—was voted out of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

HCR 29 urges the President of the United States to halt the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s costly and harmful pursuit of regulations that restrict fuel diversity for electricity generation and to pursue new policies on this front.

In 2010 Larry Summers, President Obama’s top economic advisor at the time, stated that the Obama administration should look to invest in nuclear energy and fossil fuels, including coal. President Obama maintained in his weekly address on March 24, 2012 that his administration is “pursuing an all-of-the-above [energy] strategy.” The U.S. EPA must have not received the memo.

The U.S. EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) new source performance standard (NPS) for new fossil fuel-based electric generation jeopardizes the diversity of fuel used for power generation. This puts price and reliability at risk. The new rule would propose that new fossil-fuel electric generators be required to release no more than 1,000 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions per mega watt hour (MWh). Currently, no coal-fired plant comes close to meeting that standard. In fact, if coal-fired plants were fitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipment, the costs would far surpass the cost of building a new natural gas cycle plant and would overall increase the cost of generating electricity by around 80 percent.

Should this rule be approved, it would no doubt devastate Ohio’s businesses, homes, hospitals, schools and, ultimately, the citizens of our state because they would feel the full brunt of the price increases. It must be remembered that, currently, coal-fired plants generate between 70 and 80 percent of the electricity in the state. We can't rely solely upon coal, but it forms an indispensable and dominant part of our energy portfolio.

Investing in affordable, reliable electricity generated using a variety of fuels including coal, natural gas, nuclear, and other sources should be the aim of this energy policy. This diversity no doubt keeps energy prices low and reliability high. Maintaining coal-fired generation is a key to keeping electricity abundant and its cost low. That's why this message must be communicated to the president and anyone else who will listen.

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