Rockefeller advises administration to look at new GAO report on coal industry

“GAO took a deep dive into the impact of new standards on energy reliability, and I greatly appreciate the extensive report,” Rockefeller said in a statement Thursday. “We must address the health and environmental concerns related to the power sector, and this report shows that we can do it responsibly.”

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Rockefeller also sent a letter Thursday to the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking for additional details on how they plan to better coordinate their efforts, as the report recommended.

“This report also makes clear that if federal agencies — such as the Department of Energy, EPA and FERC — coordinate their efforts, it could help ease the process of implementing the standards on states and communities,” Rockefeller said.

Rockefeller said the GAO report confirmed his beliefs that most power plants will install pollution control equipment to comply with new clean standards and that plants choosing to retire instead of retrofitting tend to be older, dirtier and less efficient. He also said the benefits from the new EPA standards far outweigh the potential costs. 

Despite the potential for higher electricity costs associated with new regulations, Rockefeller said the health benefits for people exposed to less power plant pollution will result in fewer healthcare costs and higher worker productivity.

“In my view, it is incumbent on all stakeholders — from electric utilities to their regulators — to implement environmental standards as smoothly as possible to minimize rate impacts for consumers and optimize the very real public health benefits,” Rockefeller wrote in the letter. “This GAO report is intended to help outline these challenges in a constructive way.”

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