Texas unlikely to see big changes from new EPA rule changes

Fuel Fix:
When the government proposes new limits on power plant greenhouse gas emissions next week, the proposal is likely to give a big boost to natural gas at the expense of dirtier-burning coal.

But other non-emitting electricity sources — including wind and solar — also stand to benefit from the requirements set to be announced June 2.

And depending on how the Environmental Protection Agency writes the new rules, states such as Texas and California that have embraced renewable power or boosted their gas use may not have far to go to meet the mandates.

“Some states have made an awful lot of progress, and there are affordable and reliable ways to do more,” said Tom Vinson, vice president of federal regulatory affairs for the American Wind Energy Association. “We don’t know what the EPA is going to come out with in terms of required emissions reductions, but states like Texas that are so far ahead of where others are, and even states like New York that have done a lot already, could be far along the path of meeting whatever the EPA comes out with through wind.”

President Barack Obama directed the EPA to write the new requirements under the Clean Air Act as part of a climate action plan he unveiled last summer. But the agency had wide latitude to draft the measure, with the broad goal of paring emissions tied to electricity generation nationwide.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has repeatedly insisted the rule will give states enough time and “enormous flexibility” to comply. Energy analysts, utility leaders and other experts generally say that’s a signal that states will be allowed to meet the standards with broad, systemwide changes that go beyond the fence line at existing power plants.
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States with a greater reliance on coal are looking at the biggest changes and coal producers will be hit hard by the new requirements.  Those producers better continue an aggressive export campaign to keep their business and jobs operational.  Texas has abundant natural gas resources and it can expand its wind generating capacity to offshore sites that are generally more dependable and in some cases closer to where energy is needed.

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