The War on Coal Gets Real

Missouri is lucky to have some of the lowest electric rates in the country. But that might not always be the case. With a heavy reliance on coal and aging infrastructure, Missouri’s cheap electric rates are in serious jeopardy – and it just got a little bit worse today.

The New York TImes reports the Obama administration has fired the first serious shot in his War on Coal. The EPA has proposed a new rule limiting carbon dioxide emissions from new coal plants to just over half of the current average for plants with advanced technology. In practice, this likely means there will not be any more coal-fired power plants built in the United States. And since coal is the cheapest way to produce electricity, costs will go up. 

The Times, however, also reports that this is just the first shot – and that the EPA will spend the next year developing a rule to place carbon emission limits on existing plants. Because Missouri electricity comes most from coal-fired power plants, this coming rule will hit Missouri families directly in the pocket-book as utilities will likely be forced to either shut down plants or spend huge amount of money retrofitting their coal-fired plants.

We’ve known this was on the way for quite a while. That’s why I’ve consistently supported legislation to make it easier for power producers to upgrade Missouri’s electric infrastructure and invest in new nuclear power plants. Unfortunately, those efforts have been stymied – mainly by big business interests controlled by Wall Street hedge fund managers and publicly traded companies more concerned about how “the Street” will react to their next quarterly earnings report than to long-term reliable and cheap power in our state.

Now that President Obama has fired the first serious shot in the War on Coal, it is my hope that we can pass legislation to help ensure affordable energy for Missouri families, businesses, and schools for decades to come.