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New Carbon Regulations Could Be Boom Or Bust For Wyoming


This week, the Obama administration announced new regulations  for carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants.

When the Environmental Protection Agency determined that carbon dioxide emissions were endangering the public in 2009, Ron Surdam, Director of the Carbon Management Institute at the University of Wyoming, says he saw the writing on the wall: there would be a cap on new power plant emissions, which is exactly what the EPA announced this week.

While new natural gas plant technology meets the requirement of one thousand pounds of carbon produced per megawatt hour, coal plants far exceed those standards.  According to Surdam, that means that within the next decade, coal plants as we know them could fall out of favor, and Wyoming’s economy could take a hit.

That is, Surdam says, unless regulations drive the state toward proactive, new technologies.

“The real future for coal and even natural gas in the state of Wyoming, is we ought to take the coal and convert it to added value products, like gasoline diesel,” says Surdam. “There’s a lot of things we ought to be doing if we’re going to sustain our mineral economy. Carbon capture and storage I think will be very important.”

Power plants make up 40 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas output. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso calls the EPA’s new regulations a slap in the face to American Workers, and says that the plan will bankrupt the nations coal industry.

Sara Hossaini is a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She holds a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She brings a blend of documentary journalism and public interest communications experience developed through her work as a nonprofit multimedia consultant and Associate Producer on national PBS documentary films through groups such as the Center for Asian American Media, Fenton Communications and The Working Group. She likes to travel, to get her hands in the dirt and to explore her creative side through music, crafts and dance.
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