The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appears unmoved by growing calls from Montana officials and political candidates to hold listening sessions on new regulations for coal-fired power plants in Montana. The EPA has planned hearings in 11 large urban centers across the country, but none in places like Montana where jobs are heavily dependent upon coal production.
In an e-mail to Media Trackers, EPA Region 8 Spokesman Rich Mylott provided a general statement from the EPA outlining the so-called dangers of coal-fired power plants. Despite the lack of listening sessions outside of the 11 major urban areas, Mylott emphasized that the EPA would listen carefully to local and state concerns, stating that it was using “aggressive outreach” to solicit comments.
“Power plants are the nation’s single largest source of carbon pollution — a source we must address as we work to combat climate change, one of the most significant health risks of our time,” states the EPA. “Science tells us that climate change is real, that human activities are fueling that change, and that we must take action now to avoid the most devastating consequences.”
The new regulations on coal-fired power plants are being implemented under Rule 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, which requires states to create performance standards for carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants and then submit those plans for approval from the EPA. Many are concerned that the new rule will be used by the EPA to strong-arm states into passing emissions standards that cannot be met by older, coal-fired power plants.
The EPA has planned public listening sessions on the new regulations in 11 large cities across the country: New York, Atlanta, Denver, Philadelphia, Chicago, Kansas City, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, and Washington, D.C.
The lack of listening sessions in coal-producing areas such as Montana has drawn criticism from state politicians. Last week, Media Trackers reported that Republican Attorney General Tim Fox was officially calling on the EPA to schedule a session in Montana, saying “the EPA shouldn’t be afraid of listening to viewpoints they won’t hear in New York City.”
On Monday, Ryan Zinke, the newly-declared GOP candidate for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat, also released a statement calling on the EPA to hold a listening session in Montana.
“Montana holds twenty-five percent of the nation’s recoverable coal reserves, and coal produces fifty-one percent of the state’s energy,” stated Zinke. “The regulations that the EPA imposed will prevent new plants from being built, close current plants, and put thousands of hard-working Montanans out of work.”
Zinke ended his statement saying, “We deserve to be heard!”
Mylott, the EPA official, said that Montanans could give input by e-mailing comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.