Local Groups Respond to EPA Emissions Plan

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Randy Livingston

WSIL -- The EPA has released a plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2030. The proposal is facing a lot of criticism in coal states, like Illinois. Coal-fired plants are one of the big producers of CO2 and provide 40 percent of the state's power.

You can view more about the proposal here.
 
Many groups are now  just looking over the 645 page plan.  Some believe it's a goal that Illinois can reach. Others fear it will cost jobs and cause higher electricity prices.
 
The Southern Illinois Power Cooperative pumps out energy to more than 200,000 customers. A good portion of that power is generated from its plant on Lake of Egypt.
 
"When you burn a ton of coal, you get 2.1 tons of CO2," said SIPC Vice President Leonard Hopkins. "That's just chemistry."
 
Hopkins has major concerns over the new proposal cutting back on carbon dioxide emissions. He says a way to capture CO2 from the process isn't ready for use. It would also be very expensive. 
 
"We're a cooperative," said Hopkins. "And our members are our owners. We don't have large stores of cash."
 
The co-op has already made improvements in the past, like a new boiler in 2003. Hopkins feels the EPA keeps changing the rules.
 
"The ten-year-old boiler was state-of-the-art clean coal technology, fluidized bed just ten years ago," said Hopkins. "And now it's one of the least efficient boilers for CO2."
    
However, Tomasz Wiltowski with the SIU Coal Research Center is a little more optimistic that the industry will be able to adjust.
     
"There are some people that are saying we have to completely eliminate the coal," said Wiltowski.  No, we cannot."
 
He believes rapidly developing technology could allow plants to burn a mix of coal and renewable energy. It's an idea that the school plans to start testing soon. 
 
He also says CO2 emissions are already down 13 percent since 2005.
     
"I can use less fuel, produce more electricity," said Wiltowski. 
 
Wiltowski also feels that if the amount of coal used for power generation drops, there are other exciting opportunities for the fossil fuel.
 
"I can use the different technology to utilize coal to produce something else," said Wiltowski. "One of the examples is liquid fuels, transportation fuels."
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