Statement for Senator Craig Thomas

Committee on Environment and Public Works

Hearing on Clear Skies

 

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today on the Clear Skies proposal.The issue of clean air is of great importance to the entire nation, but particularly to the West and my state of Wyoming where we have some the nationís cleanest air and world-class reserves of coal and natural gas, as well as wind resources. ††We all agree that we want clean air.The disagreement is how to achieve that goal and allow for resource development.Today we are here to discuss how the Clear Skies proposal will affect natural gas supply in this country.

 

Intended or unintended, this proposal will have significant consequences in the natural gas supply area.I have always said that I believe coal is our nationís best resource for stationary sources for electric generation.Natural gas is far more flexible in uses, it also suffers in price stability.Under this legislation, many predict a reduction for Wyoming coal production.It is my understanding that EPA modeling now confirms that reducing mercury emissions from the 48 tons or so that the nation emits today, to 26 tons in 2010, will require far more than application of controls to meet SO2 and NOx requirements.Instead, EPA modeling projects that power plants will reduce mercury emissions by switching from sub-bituminous coal to bituminous coal.It is my guess, that many will just switch from coal to natural gas.

 

I am deeply concerned about this dramatic change and do not believe this is in the best interest of our energy and environmental policies.Currently, generation of electricity from coal represents more than 50 percent of total production.Making massive shifts in our regulatory structure could have devastating impacts on our nationís most reliable energy source. Already, switching to natural gas has occurred in many regions of country and experts agree that our nation will see a shortage.So this policy will not only have the unintended consequences of major fuel switching but also major prices increases for the consumer.We must look at the big picture and where we want to be, and realistically where we can be in twenty years.

 

A responsible energy and environmental policy must promote energy independence.Americaís economy (jobs) and national security requires reliable energy sources.The nation cannot accomplish independence without encouraging development of existing reserves. And that means, promoting conservation and efficiencies, investing in technologies that will allow development of new energy resources; and do so in an environmentally friendlier manner.

 

It is foolish to enact any policy that will decrease domestic supplies ofany of our nationís energy sources: coal, oil and natural gas, and renewables.We cannot and should not rely on any single source.Above all we should encourage a balanced portfolio of energy options and add emphasis and opportunity for coal to remain in the nation's energy portfolio.††