EPA proposes killing Clean Power Plan, but market already cutting carbon

The country’s first rules designed to reduce power plant carbon emissions blamed for climate change appear to be on their way out, but that doesn’t mean much will change.

The rollback on regulations come as market forces continue to push down the cost of renewable energy and keep natural gas competitive with coal, the most carbon-intensive fuel used by power plants. And there’s still almost no interest among utilities to invest in new coal plants as old ones retire.

St. Louis-based Peabody and Creve Coeur-based Arch Coal joined lawsuits challenging the rules. And Ameren, a politically powerful force in state politics, urged former Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to join other states suing to block the rules. Koster became one of the only Democratic attorneys general to join the legal challenge.

Yet even before the rules were implemented, Peabody and Arch were both forced to restructure their finances in bankruptcy court, a result of debt and competition from a deluge of cheap natural gas. They’ve clawed back this year mostly due to higher natural gas prices and global demand for coal.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, released a strong endorsement of the plan to scrap the regulations, calling them one of the most expensive and burdensome Obama administration energy policies.

Sierra Club Missouri Chapter Director John Hickey contends Blunt’s continued support for coal energy is wrong-headed, citing the rise of other power sources.

Ameren Missouri, the state’s largest utility, announced a billion-dollar investment in wind power in late September.  In 2014,  Kansas City Power & Light stated that its investment in wind energy would save customers $1 billion over 20 years. City governments in Springfield and Columbia have also announced significant expansion into wind energy over the summer.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missourinet

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