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Coal And American Energy Futures47:48
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The new battle over American coal, before the Supreme Court and beyond.

In this Jan. 5, 2015, photo, dozens of people rally in Santa Fe, N.M., as the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission considers a proposal that calls for shutting down part of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station. (AP)
In this Jan. 5, 2015, photo, dozens of people rally in Santa Fe, N.M., as the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission considers a proposal that calls for shutting down part of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station. (AP)

Coal seems like our most primitive fuel. We dig it out of the ground in chunks. It burns dirty. It feels like Dickens and the Victorian era. The Industrial Revolution. But we still burn a lot of it. In power plants. Now there is a push on to make coal at least pay its way in terms of its heavy costs to human health and to the environment. And there’s a push back that claims a “war on coal.” This week, the Supreme Court looks at what the EPA can require. Congress is jumping into the coal bin.  And the coal keeps coming. This hour On Point:  climate change, clean-up, and coal.
-- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Dahlia Lithwick, US Supreme Court and law correspondent for Slate. (@dahlialithwick)

Kate Sheppard, energy and environment editor for the Huffington Post. (@kate_sheppard)

Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute's Center for Energy Policy and the Environment. Author of "Power Hungry: The Myths of 'Green' Energy And The Real Fuels Of The Future." (@pwrhungry)

David Doniger, director of the National Resource Defense Council's climate and clear air program. (@ddonigernrdc)

From Tom’s Reading List

Huffington Post: McConnell Crusades For States To Ignore EPA Rules, But Kentucky's Not Listening — "If a state doesn't come up with a plan, then the EPA will come up with one for it. And while several states have filed a lawsuit against the EPA over the plan, agency Administrator Gina McCarthy has said she's confident that most states will comply, because doing so will be better for them than having the feds impose requirements. That seems to be the Beshear administration's approach. And it's not like the Beshear administration has a lot of love for the Obama EPA, having sparred with them over other coal rules in the past."

The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court to Review EPA Rule on Power Plant Emissions — "The high court will decide if the EPA should have considered how much the rules would cost utilities, addressing a recurring complaint by companies about government regulations. The power companies and states said the rules would add $9.6 billion in annual costs to the utility industry. The EPA should have taken those costs into account, they said."

Los Angeles Times: EPA rule on power plant emissions faces formidable hurdle in Supreme Court — "Twenty-five years in the making, a new nationwide rule is set to take effect this spring that will sharply restrict coal and oil-fired power plants from releasing mercury, arsenic and other hazardous pollutants into the air and, eventually, into rivers and lakes. But the rule faces a final and formidable hurdle when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday from lawyers for the coal and power industries, who say it may be 'the most costly rule' ever adopted under the Clean Air Act."

This program aired on March 24, 2015.

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