Clean Power Plan facing opposition in Missouri

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COLUMBIA - A nationally mandated Clean Power Plan is facing opposition in Missouri.

The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has finalized its Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. It’s awaiting publication in the Federal Register to become official, which is expected this month.

It is the first nationwide standard to end what President Obama called the limitless dumping of carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

The EPA has developed individual targets for each state, but has decided to allow each state the ability to make its own plan to reach the targets set by the EPA.

Christian Johanningmeier, the power production superintendent at the Municipal Power Plant in Columbia said that in Missouri, over 80% of the energy comes from burning coal.

“Missouri is a state that uses a lot of coal generation and so they have one of the largest reduction targets to meet in the nation. I think either 32 or 37 percent,” Johanningmeier said.

Alexandra Krus, the director for Mizzou Energy Action Coalition, said that moving away from fossil fuels, such as coal, is important in slowing climate change.

“Because we’re not using as much clean power and clean energy as we should globally, CO2 emissions are continually being emitted into the atmosphere, which means it’s adding a blanket to our atmosphere making it warmer and warmer,” Krus said.

She said this could eventually make it hard for farmers to carry out their jobs in the most efficient way possible.

“We are so reliant on crops, especially corn in the Midwest. Farmers won’t be able to predict weather patterns making it more difficult to yield the right amount of crops,” Krus said.

She said she is really excited action is being taken.

“It’s amazing. I feel that we think governmental systems are unresponsive. It’s cool to see that grassroots clubs do make a difference and the government is listening to the people,” Krus said.

However, not all governmental bodies are in favor of this new plan.

Missouri State Senator David Sater wrote on, “A plan that requires us to change our source of power so drastically and so quickly will be devastating to our economy.” 

He went on to say that he doesn't think it's right for the federal government to impose plans on state governments.

"I don’t know about you but I am tired of this relationship between the states and the federal government where we have to ask for permission to do something the Constitution already gives us the authority to do or we are forced into doing something through threats of withheld funding or fines," Sater said.

Johanningmeier said he expects to see a greater emphasis on renewable energy, such as wind and solar energy, in the coming future.

According to the EPA, these zero-emitting renewable energy sources are expected to grow from 12% in 2012 to 21% in 2030.

However, Johanningmeier said the transition to wind and solar energy sources could cause some challenges.

“Solar and wind are intermittent resources, meaning they are only available when the sun is shinning and the wind is blowing. It adds a degree of complexity, so you have to have other assets available so people can still turn on their lights,” Johanningmeier said.

He said because the Clean Power Plan is still in its early stages, no one is really going to know what it means quite yet.

However, according to the EPA, the Clean Power Plan will protect public health, avoiding each year: 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work and school days.

Johanningmeier said the Municpal Power Plant in Columbia recently decided to stop using coal for reasons outside of the Clean Power Plan. 

He says he expects a lot of state's to sue the federal government once the plan is published later this month.