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EPA coal emissions plan to hurt steel: exec

Keywords: Tags  Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, Ross Eisenberg, National Association of Manufacturers, regulations, greenhouse gas emissions, coal-fired power plants, coal electricity

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations covering new coal-fired power plant greenhouse gas emissions, a move that will increase energy costs for steel producers and manufacturers, Ross Eisenberg, vice president of energy and resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, said.

"Energy starts going up when you have to take things down and build new things," he said at the American Wire Producers Association meeting last week in Washington. "We are not saying don’t do anything about climate change. We are saying this is not a good way to go."

The EPA’s proposed limits on carbon emissions from new coal-fired power plants is 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. That compares with 1,700 pounds of carbon emissions at the most efficient and cleanest coal-powered plants that exist today, Eisenberg said.

Coal power generates about 40 percent of the electricity in the United States, making it a crucial power source that impacts steelmakers’ costs.

"It will set completely unreasonable and unfeasible standards for coal-fired power plants," Eisenberg said. "This obviously impacts your cost of energy."

The proposed rules would apply only to new coal-fired power plants, but the EPA is set to issue standards for existing plants June 1, 2014, he said, which would increase costs for all U.S. manufacturers. The proposed regulations, released Sept. 20, will likely set a strong precedent for future emissions limits.

The EPA has cited a plant in Mississippi that will partially capture and sequester 65 percent of carbon dioxide as a model, but the plant is $2 billion over costs, Eisenberg said.

President Obama announced his plan to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants in a speech earlier this year. The American Iron and Steel Institute protested at the time, saying the plan would increase costs for manufacturers.

"We’re seeing a lot of companies, particularly energy intensive ones, move back to the states," Eisenberg said. "But at the same time, we have this dysfunction where you have environmental regulations pushing the other way."

There will be a 60-day comment period on the proposal following publication in the Federal Register.

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