U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   06/05/2003
 
Sen. Craig Thomas
Clear Skies Act

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 nation’s 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 the emission-control technologies and utility-sector investment issues.

Since enactment of the Clean Air Act, we have seen significant reductions in both NOx and SO2. Proven, tested technologies exist to reduce both of these types of emissions. My concern is the lack of commercially demonstrated available technologies for mercury, PARTICULARLY FOR WESTERN COAL. There is this general belief that mercury can be captured by adding scrubbers and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR). This works for eastern bituminous coal, but it does NOT work for western bituminous coal, lignite and sub-bituminous coal.

All this comes at time when the state of this industry is far weaker financially than it has been in years. Billions of dollars of shareholder value has evaporated. Access to capital is becoming an important issue for large segments of the industry that are fighting for survival.

Mr. Chairman, it is costly, and potentially dangerous for the West, to legislate on the basis of what works for eastern coal and what is necessary to solve eastern air quality problems. So today, I will be asking the witnesses what, if any, commercially demonstrated technologies exist to reduce mercury from western coals, what is the cost, what are by-products, and what else may be in the pipeline that would be better, if time is allowed.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from our distinguished panel of witnesses.