CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Few specifics are known about federal carbon emissions standards set for release next week.
But reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules could harm the coal industry drew fierce responses from several West Virginia politicians and industry officials.
By the end of next week, the EPA must issue proposed carbon emissions standards for newlybuilt coal-fired power plants in the country. Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal both reported those rules will force any new plants to use equipment that industry officials contend either does not exist or is too expensive.
There is no reason to expect the rules won't hurt the coal industry, said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.
"The anticipation is not very good," Raney said. "We're expecting it to be very damaging toWest Virginia and the Appalachian states and coal-burning utilities."
Raney again said the technology to effectively reduce emissions or "capture" the carbon isn't a feasible option for facilities in the short term. It would realistically take years to implement the technology, at a significant cost, he said.
Lobbyists for the coal industry and the utility companies could still meet with the administration before the rules are released. Rob Goodwin, a project coordinator for the environmental activist group Coal River Mountain Watch, said he expected those opposed to the regulations to continue to argue for leniency.
Goodwin said the changes are unfortunate for those who rely on the coal industry for a job. But the federal government is required to impose limits on carbon emissions, and the industry had its chance to prepare for the changes, he said.
"Really, it's long overdue," Goodwin said. "I think these rules don't go far enough to regulate greenhouse gas emissions."
West Virginia politicians were quick to take reports of the potential rules as proof of a national "war on coal."
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, DW. Va., lashed out at the EPA, vowing to "lead another battle" in his fight against regulations deemed to overreach.
"It is simply unacceptable that the EPA chooses to hold coal and gas to the same emissions standards when experts know it is technologically impossible," Manchin said in a statement also provided to the Wall Street Journal.
"The proposed regulations attempt to force standards on coal emissions that cannot be achieved, even with the most advanced current technology."
Last year, the EPA proposed limits on carbon dioxide and emissions from gas-fired plants that were the same, according to the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper's sources say the EPA is considering only slightly relaxing the standards for coal-fired plants in its new regulations.