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House Passes Bill to Reduce Job-Killing Regulations on Coal Refuse-to-Energy Power Plants

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House Passes Bill to Reduce Job-Killing Regulations on Coal Refuse-to-Energy Power Plants

 

14 of 18 Coal Refuse-to-Energy Plants are Located in Pennsylvania

 

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to ensure Pennsylvania’s environmentally beneficial coal refuse-to-energy facilities, which were put at risk by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules during the Obama Administration, continue to operate.  H.R. 1119, the Satisfying Energy Needs and Saving the Environment (SENSE) Act,provides targeted modifications to EPA regulations to allow for coal refuse-to-energy power plants to maintain operations.  The House passed the bill by a bipartisan vote of 215 to 189.  Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11), an original cosponsor of the SENSE Act, voted in favor of the bill.

“Coal refuse-to-energy power plants benefit hundreds of communities across Pennsylvania,” Barletta said following the vote.  “These facilities provide more than 4,300 jobs and contribute $30 million in state and local tax revenues annually, while reclaiming hazardous abandoned mine land and coal waste piles.  As someone who grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania, I understand the burden coal waste piles place on communities and first responders.  The EPA’s top down, on-size-fits-all regulatory schemes often lack the nuance to see the essential environmental good from technology like coal refuse-to-energy facilities.  I am very pleased we passed this critical legislation.”

On February 8, 2018, Barletta introduced legislation aimed at helping coal refuse-to-energy facilities maintain their economic viability.  The bill, H.R. 4977, the Coal Refuse Remediation Act, would provide a per-ton production tax credit (PTC) to coal refuse-to-energy plants.

The legislation would provide a performance-based PTC of $12 per ton to help support coal refuse-to-energy plants as they sell electricity in order to clean up abandoned mine lands.  In order to be eligible to earn the tax credit, at least 75% of the coal refuse facility’s fuel, by BTU energy value, must be coal refuse and the recovery sites must be remediated and reclaimed.  The Coal Refuse Remediation Act is intended to address a neglected problem facing remote and often rural regions of our country.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection estimates that, in Pennsylvania alone, the cost to remediate known coal refuse piles would be at least $2 billion dollars.  Coal refuse piles in Pennsylvania cover an aggregate area of over 10,000 acres and contain a total volume of approximately 2 billion cubic yards.  These piles pose a threat to the health and safety of local communities, as well as to water and air quality.  Currently, there is no viable, environmentally efficient, cost effective alternative to the coal refuse-to-energy remediation projects.

Of the 18 existing coal refuse-to-energy facilities in the country, 14 are located in Pennsylvania, with the remaining facilities in West Virginia, Utah, and Montana.  Were it to be installed new today, this industry represents a current investment of over $5 billion of critical installed environmental remediation infrastructure dedicated to the removal, remediation, and reclamation of land burdened by abandoned coal refuse piles.  To date, the industry has removed over 230 million tons of coal refuse and restored thousands of acres of abandoned mine lands while recovering over 1,200 miles of streams.

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