Pennsylvania lawmakers are debating a plan to reduce the carbon dioxide spewed from coal-fired power plants.
A Pennsylvania House panel has approved a plan to create a network of coal-burning power plants that store their carbon dioxide emissions underground, instead of releasing them into the air. Pennsylvania doesn’t have that technology now, but supporters say the change will be better for the environment.
The bill uses tax credits to push power plants to adopt technology that can capture the carbon dioxide emitted when coal is burned. Those pollutants would later be stored underground. Several lawmakers from Pennsylvania’s coal region oppose the bill, including one lawmaker who challenged the idea that the earth is experiencing global warming.
Chester County Republican Chris Ross supports the bill.
Ross: Whether you agree or disagree with global warming is really irrelevant in terms of the value of this bill. This is bill is designed to diversity the sources of electric generation power in Pennsylvania. Diversity of sources protects the rate payer.
The legislation also sets new goals for the amount of electricity utility companies must generate from renewable sources like wind and solar power.
Montgomery County Republican Kate Harper voted “yes.”
Harper: I think that this bill gives us a chance to develop a cleaner-burning coal system. So that we can continue to use coal here in Pennsylvania and do it with less damage to the environment.
Opponents say the plan will drive up electricity prices, because it costs more to produce electricity from solar energy, than from traditional coal.
Republican committee chairman Scott Hutchinson voted against the bill.
Hutchinson: Once again here we are picking winners and losers, although we know no better than anyone else what technologies will be available in the future. We are picking more expensive forms of energy; we have so many upward pressures of costs on consumers and businesses and we are going to add some more today.
Supporters say the change will clear pollutants from the atmosphere, enough, they say, to equal the emissions produced by three million cars.
More info: See our special feature on Coal’s comeback