Coal companies across the country are living in fear that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) proposed rule to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired plants will require costly retrofits that would ultimately force them out of business.
Companies also fear the proposed standards could delay the introduction of innovative clean coal technology called integrated gasification combined cycle, or IGCC, also a pricey technology, but one that strips carbon dioxide out of burning coal and then concentrates it, allowing it to be captured and dispatched to an underground storage location.
According to the EPA, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which captures up to 90 percent of the toxic emissions, is the only means by which a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions can be achieved. And under the new rule, IGCC systems would also be required to use carbon capture.
Although the proposed rule applies to both gas- and coal-fired plants, some coal companies believe the White House is waging a “war on coal,” through policy and regulation.
Purchasing, constructing, and operating IGCC systems with CCS come with a significant price tag. To add insult to injury, even the best coal technology can’t compete with the efficiency and low cost of gas-fired power plants. Over the past 20 years, the high cost of compliance for coal companies has resulted in workers losing their jobs and consumers absorbing additional costs.