Pollution Waiver for Coal Plants Goes To House Floor
Published February 28, 2018 / Updated August 7, 2020

Pollution Waiver for Coal Plants Goes To House Floor

The SENSE Act will lift many pollution caps on coal refuse power plants

by Chris Thomas

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Photo by veeterzy

Keith Rothfus’ (R-PA 12) “Satisfying Energy Needs and Saving the Environment Act” (SENSE Act) heads to the House floor this week as HR 1119. The bill seeks to allow certain types of coal power plants to produce more atmospheric pollutants and to pick-and-choose which pollutants are actually regulated under the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

It does whatnow?

When you mine coal you generate a lot of waste which has to be disposed of. This waste — so called “coal refuse” — is piled up in “tips” outside of mines and can become a hazard in its own right. Coal Refuse power plants use coal refuse as fuel. The refuse burns dirtier than ordinary coal but it also doesn’t burry towns when the coal tip collapses.

There are ways to make refuse plants pollute less, but they cost a lot of money. HR 1119 lets refuse plants pollute more and ignore caps on some pollutants in order to drive down the cost of operating them.

Pros and Cons

Proponents of the SENSE Act say that lifting pollution rules for refuse plants will make them price-competitive, save jobs, and reduce coal refuse. They say that so long as we’re mining coal the refuse has to go somewhere and so we might as well burn it and get energy for our trouble.

Opponents of the SENSE Act say that we should be incentivizing clean energy like wind and solar, not the dirtiest types of coal plants. The contend that coal refuse disposal is a cost that belongs to the coal companies, not something that should be passed off to the American people in the form of air pollution and the health problems that causes.

Tell Congress What You Think

If this passes the House it moves on to the Senate where it’s subject to a Democratic filibuster so all of your Senators and Representatives need to know how you feel about it. You can tell Congress what you think about this or any other topic by texting RESIST to 50409. Or, if SMS isn’t your style, you can contact your government by talking to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or Twitter. Resistbot will deliver your messages in the most effective way possible for your Congresspeople.

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