Many Carbon and Emery county residents wonder what will happen to the local economy if the local coal power plants shut down. The EPA has set emissions standards too high to build new power plants, 1,100 pounds CO2 per megawatt-hour1 and it has set a goal for the state of Utah to cut carbon emissions by 20-30% for existing power plants.
If the Hunter Power Plant shut down, 223 people would be left without work in addition to the workers relocated from the Carbon plant. Local government would have to recoup taxes from the plant’s services, and if each worker at the plant owns a house and couldn’t find a job locally, their houses would add 223 listings to an already flooded housing market, decreasing property values.
But, according to Dave Eskleson, a representative of Utah Power, there is no cause for concern, yet.
“The new regulations have not yet gone into effect,” he explained. “There will still be a period of public comment, then a period of litigation, then a period for the state to decide how it will comply with the new rules. By June, there will be additional rule-making and litigation.”
States are required to submit their plans for complying to the new regulations by June 2015.
When asked about closure of the 60-year-old Carbon Power Plant, Eskleson said that the plant was scheduled to be retired in 2020 anyway. It will be closing April 15 due to lack of space for upgrades needed to comply with emissions regulations regarding mercury and other emissions, but not CO2.
The new federal regulations on existing power plants require states to decrease carbon emissions by a different percentage for each state by 2020. Utah has been selected to decrease emissions by 20-30%.3 . Before this rule by the EPA, there has been no federal regulation on carbon emissions. According to OurEnergyPolicy.org, the new regulations will effectively cripple the coal industry since “it’s not commercially feasible to build a new coal plant, period.” 1
This may all sound bleak but there has been congressional action to the contrary: “U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) submitted an amendment to a House Bill giving Congress the ability to halt the EPA’s proposed regulations and submitted a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to stop EPA from issuing its rule.”3