Coalition Report

Chris Burnette,Climate Organizer
Missouri Coalition
for the Environment

A First Step Against Climate Change

Climate change has led to a loss in life, property, and economic stability. We are seeing increasingly severe flooding, wildfires, and drought, as well as troubling rates of asthma and other health problems related to climate change and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In 2012, Missouri ranked 7th in the nation for weather related federal disaster recovery spending, at a whopping $1.8 Billion. The health effects of carbon and related greenhouse gases are well known. Worldwide, 5 million people die every year from the health impacts and weather disasters related to climate change. By taking a proactive approach, we can work to counter the effects of climate change and reduce the impacts on the public health.

Thankfully, earlier this summer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a set of proposed rules that will reduce greenhouse gases by 21% from 2005 levels. In particular, they target CO2 emissions from operating power plants. In Missouri, 85% of industrial carbon emissions come from existing electric generating power plants. Eighty-three percent of Missouri’s electricity comes from the burning of carbon-emitting coal, one of the highest rates of coal use in the U.S. Missouri needs to reduce its reliance on this carbon-heavy source of electricity.

Utilities can meet the proposed carbon reduction goals through many different paths. The EPA has put together a four step recommendation that addresses the easiest route to meeting the carbon reduction goals. The first step includes either retiring older, dirtier coal plants or installing scrubbers to remove CO2. The second step involves switching base load capacity from dirtier coal plants to cleaner, already existing natural gas or other low emission plants. The last two steps recommended by the EPA include growing our Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency portfolio. Because of this flexibility, utilities can focus their efforts in ways that make sense to them, while still reducing overall carbon emissions and the impacts on climate and the public’s health.

Over the next few months, EPA will accept comments from stakeholders and the general public. EPA will surely hear from the utilities and others invested in the continued burning in coal. It’s important that EPA hear from others who want a cleaner, healthier future built on an economy and energy plan that promote clean, healthy jobs.

The new comment deadline is December 1, 2014.

You can find out more and submit comments online at: http://moenviron.org Contact Chris at cburnette@moenviron.org for more information.