letters | EPA targets coal plants

Agency is doing its job — one that needs to be done

John E. Sununu makes two points in his column “Why is the EPA trying to kill coal?” (Op-ed, Sept. 30): The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed new carbon dioxide limits will kill coal plants, and there is no need for such regulation. He is wrong on both points.

The EPA, for the first time, has proposed to limit carbon emissions from new power plants, just as it has limited other pollutants, such as lead, mercury, and sulfur dioxide. The proposed regulations allow new coal plants to be built, but require that the plants capture and bury about half of the carbon they emit.

The technology to do this is in use today, though it is not widespread. The new rule, when finalized, would create demand for this technology and drive innovation, just as many other environmental regulations have done. When Sununu predicts that this technology will fail and make coal plants extinct, he is betting against American ingenuity, and ignoring a long track record of success.


Moreover, there is a clear and compelling need to regulate carbon emissions from coal plants. While Massachusetts under Governor Patrick and other northeastern states have dramatically reduced their reliance on coal and cut their power plant emissions while growing their economies, many other states lag in making these clean energy investments. These states are reliant on antiquated and high-carbon-emitting coal plants, which send other harmful pollutants downwind to northeastern states such as Massachusetts.

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The EPA’s proposed rule is a sensible first step to lower emissions from new power plants, while the agency grapples with even more important rules to address carbon emissions from existing power plants.

Kenneth Kimmell


Massachusetts Department

of Environmental Protection