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Peabody Asks EPA To Withdraw Carbon Emissions Proposal

Ameren Missouri's largest coal-fired power plant in Labadie, Missouri.
File photo | Veronique LaCapra I St. Louis Public Radio
Ameren’s 2,400-megawatt plant near Labadie, Missouri, is the state’s largest coal-fired power plant. (Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio)

Peabody Energy is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its proposed carbon emission rules.

The St. Louis-based coal company took part in the EPA’s hearings on the rule Tuesday morning in Washington D.C. The agency is also holding hearings in Atlanta, Denver and Pittsburgh Tuesday and Wednesday.

The EPA’s proposed rules seek to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in the power sector by 30 percent by the year 2030.

Peabody Energy’s senior vice president of Government Relations, Fred Palmer, testified that the coal company is in “profound disagreement” with the rules.

EPA Hearing Testimony FDP 072914

Palmer said the current plan would not make significant environmental improvements, yet would raise electricity costs for consumers.

"Access to clean, affordable energy is essential at a time when a record 115 million Americans qualify for energy assistance and 48 million Americans live in poverty," Palmer said.

The EPA is leaving it largely to states to decide how to cut emissions. In Missouri, which is heavily dependent on coal, the agency is seeking a 21 percent reduction in carbon emissions. The agency is giving Missouri and other states until June 2016 to submit their plans.

In his testimony, Palmer questioned the legality of the state-by-state approach.

"EPA also shows deep misunderstanding about the relationship of states to the federal government under the Clean Water Act," he said.

Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment released a statement Tuesday countering Peabody's testimony. The group, which held protests outside a Peabody shareholders' meeting earlier this year, said the coal company's testimony demonstrated its "purposeful ignorance" about the effects of climate change. The statement also took issue with Peabody's concern over consumer costs:

"While Peabody says they care about 'energy poverty,' Peabody's behavior in St. Louis says otherwise. Peabody has received millions of dollars in tax breaks meant to go to the disadvantaged St. Louis public school system even as they have created no new jobs at their headquarters."

The EPA's comment period on the plan is open until October 16. Click here to learn how to submit your comment.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.