Letter: Coal-fired plants should clean up or shut down – Billings Gazette, June 23, 2013

June 24, 2013

Categories: Clean Water, Climate change, Coal, Letters

http://billingsgazette.com/news/opinion/mailbag/coal-fired-plants-should-clean-up-or-shut-down/article_bb7415ed-2232-561d-966c-94faf05263c1.html

There is quite a propaganda campaign afoot to convince us the coal industry should not have to clean up its pollution and that EPA clean air protections will stifle innovation. There have been four letters to the editor in the past week, including two from Yellowstone County commissioners. They use the same terms and make the same weak and misleading statements to argue why the coal industry should be able to continue to dump its wastes into the air we breathe.

They neglect to mention the abundant, cleaner natural gas and integrated wind resources (jobs and taxes) waiting to take over. Their rationale that air pollution controls will stop electricity generation and stifle technological advances — so let the coal industry pollute — is absurd. Many power plants have already cleaned up all across the country and use far better technology. As a former 16-year legislator and public service commissioner, I can tell you that letting big corporations off the hook by avoiding their responsibilities to Montanans rarely spurs more investment. Montana power plants being told to clean up their life-threatening pollution stimulates technological innovation.

Burning coal puts mercury in our rivers and fish, causes asthma in our most vulnerable children and seniors and contributes to climate disruptions that affect our rivers and forests, our agricultural operations, tourism and economy.

Previously, The Gazette editorialized about the need to reduce toxic emissions from power plants, saying “America doesn’t need to shut down coal power; it needs to clean it up.” I agree. We need the new carbon standards to reduce life-threatening pollution and force these polluters to invest in cleaner air. Montana’s coal power plants should either clean up or shut down.

Bob Raney
Livingston

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