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Mo. coal ash plan may need revision; White House backs strategic power reserve


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Mo. coal ash plan may need revision; White House backs strategic power reserve

Mo. coal ash plan weaker than federal permitting rule, US EPA says

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said several elements of Missouri's proposed coal ash management plan are weaker than an Obama administration-era rule, indicating that the state may need to revise the program to win federal approval.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources started crafting its own regulations for the management and storage of coal residuals — a byproduct of burning the fuel for electricity — after Congress in 2016 passed legislation to give states more control over permitting for coal ash storage ponds and landfills.

Green groups push back on US EPA claim that coal plant rule will cut global CO2

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims that its proposal to ease carbon dioxide limits on new and modified coal-fired power plants will spark increased investment in efficient coal generation and allow the country to export that technology.

But environmental groups argued March 18 that the technology the EPA selected in its proposed rewrite of an Obama-era climate rule has existed for decades, and hundreds of modern coal plants abroad are already operating with more efficient technology than the rule would require.

Carbon capture at center of debate over US EPA's rule for new coal plants

The feasibility of a technology known as carbon capture and storage has emerged as a central point of debate when discussing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to ease carbon dioxide limits on new and modified coal-fired power plants.

As part of the Trump administration's effort to repeal and replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, the EPA in December 2018 proposed to revise a companion regulation that effectively required new and modified coal plants to capture at least some of their planet-warming CO2 emissions.

New Mexico becomes 3rd state to adopt 100% clean power law

New Mexico officially became the third U.S. state to target the complete decarbonization of its power system before midcentury when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on March 22 signed the Energy Transition Act into law.

The measure, also known as Senate Bill 489, boosts the state's renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2030, from 20% by 2020 previously, growing to 80% by 2040 before reaching 100% carbon-free power by 2045.

Interior provides $291.3M coal mine reclamation fund for states, tribes

The U.S. Department of the Interior allocated about $291.3 million for 25 coal-producing states and three tribes to reclaim and repurpose abandoned coal mines, according to a March 19 release.

The reclamation fund was granted through the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

Abandoned mine-land reclamation grants aim to stabilize and restore coal communities and protect the lives of the residents, DOI Acting Secretary David Bernhardt said in the release.

White House backs strategic power reserve that could favor coal, nuclear units

The U.S. electric grid could benefit from a voluntary electricity generation reserve that gives preference to nuclear and coal-fired units, the White House said in a new report.

President Donald Trump released his economic report to the U.S. Congress on March 19 together with an annual report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Disruptive changes in the U.S. power sector, including the rise of natural gas-based and renewable energy, can lead to the premature retirement of some units running on nuclear power and coal, the administration noted. It added that the resilience of the bulk power system is also at risk from severe weather events, cyberattacks and "other sources of interruption to fuel deliveries and ultimately electricity."

US DOE official says carbon capture nearing commercial viability

The private sector could make "some very exciting announcements" about carbon capture technology within weeks, a U.S. Department of Energy official said at a March 19 industry event.

Lou Hrkman, deputy assistant secretary of clean coal and carbon management, said during a panel at the 8th annual D.C. Forum on CCS that it is an exciting time for technology that can capture, store and utilize carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuel-burning power plants. State regulators may be able to consider including carbon capture in their long-term plans in the next year or two "because the technology will be viable," he said.