| During her remarks at the NDAREC annual meeting, NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson explained concerns with EPA’s newly published carbon dioxide regulation rule. (photo by Kent Brick)
Emerson voices concern with carbon dioxide regulation
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is taking issue with a proposed carbon dioxide regulation published last month for public review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Carbon dioxide standards as proposed by the EPA “effectively eliminate new coal power plants as a future electric generation option,” said Jo Ann Emerson, NRECA CEO.
“The emissions standards require carbon capture and storage at new coal plants despite this technology not existing on a commercial scale at any power plant anywhere in the world,” Emerson said. She added EPA’s new proposal takes “a reliable domestic fuel with a historically predictable cost off the table.”
NRECA is continuing to urge the administration to reconsider this proposal in light of its potential cost to rural communities.
“As not-for-profit, consumer-owned utilities, electric co-ops rely on a diverse fuel mix to provide affordable, reliable electricity to 42 million Americans. We believe strongly in our responsibility both to our environment and to members, who often serve some of the most economically vulnerable populations in this country,” Emerson said. She provided further explanation of the NRECA response during remarks to the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) annual meeting, last month in Bismarck.
EPA’s proposed rule, published Jan. 8 in the Federal Register, is open for comment for 60 days.
EPA contends that the “best system of emission reduction” for fossil fuel generation is partial implementation of carbon capture and storage technologies. Agency cost analysis assumes that revenue from using the carbon for enhanced oil recovery would make the costs of partial carbon capture and storage more reasonable.
Kirk Johnson, NRECA senior vice president of government relations, said the proposal’s additional carbon storage and reporting requirements, however, would actually hamper the use of carbon dioxide captured from power plants for enhanced oil recovery. In addition, operational changes by those recovering oil could jeopardize a power plant’s compliance with the carbon dioxide standard.
As evidence of the potential availability of carbon capture and storage, the agency’s new proposal lists four projects under development and notes that three of the four received financial aid from the U.S. government.
But existing law prohibits such standards based on government-funded technologies, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and his subcommittee chairmen, told the EPA in a letter last November, asking the agency to withdraw the proposal.
“We still have yet to receive a response to our letter questioning the legality, but EPA appears to be moving full speed ahead with this proposed rule despite the concerns we raised that it is in clear violation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005,” said Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.
The proposal sets separate carbon dioxide standards for new electric generation from coal and natural gas. EPA said it is not, at present, proposing standards for modified or reconstructed power plants. EPA plans to propose carbon dioxide standards for existing power plants in June.
Co-ops elect Jacobson to NRECA board
Delegates from electric cooperatives in North Dakota have elected Lynn Jacobson, Alamo, to be North Dakota’s representative on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) board of directors. The election took place last month in conjunction with the annual meeting of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC), in Bismarck.
Jacobson will be seated as a director at the next NRECA board meeting, to be held in March. He will be serving a two-year term. NRECA is the national advocacy organization for electric cooperatives from all across the United States. The NRECA board consists of 47 directors.
“I see myself as a conduit of communication between the North Dakota cooperatives and the NRECA board,” Jacobson said. Jacobson succeeds Don Link, Alexander, as North Dakota’s NRECA board member.
Jacobson has been a member of the Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative, Columbus, board of directors for 16 years; and of the NDAREC board for 13 years. He and his spouse, Jan, operate the family farm; Jan also works for Divide County, in planning capacities. They have three children and three grandchildren.
Caption for mug shot: (get Lynn’s photo from the directory archive).