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Gov. Steve Beshear on climate rules

Gov. Steve Beshear on climate rules

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Published by James Bruggers
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear's prepared remarks on coal and climate regulations at the 2013 Governor's Conference on the Environment and Energy, Lexington, KY.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear's prepared remarks on coal and climate regulations at the 2013 Governor's Conference on the Environment and Energy, Lexington, KY.

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Published by: James Bruggers on Sep 18, 2013
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10/30/2013

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Governor's Conference on Energy and the EnvironmentNoonTuesday, Sept. 17, 2013Lexington Convention CenterGov. Steve Beshear
e
It’s great to see such a nice crowd here at the Governor’s Conference on Energy and the
Environment.As we in Kentucky continue to address complex challenges whose outcomes will havesignificant impact on our long-term success
 – 
challenges like education, a competitiveworkforce and the health of our people
 – 
the issues of energy, the environment and theeconomy rank near the top of the list.After all, those three areas are intertwined.
Each affects the others …
each is conditional on the others
and each presents problemswhose solutions cannot be fashioned without taking into account the effect of thosesolutions on the other areas.To apply that truism to this conference, we cannot in good conscience create an energystrategy without studying closely the impact of that strategy on both the environment andthe foundations of Kentucky
’s economy
.
That’s
the message Sec. Peters and I have been delivering to Washington since the day Itook office.Decisions and discussion on energy production and regulation must not happen in avacuum.
And that’s especially true given Kentucky’s demographics: With among the hi
ghest per capita poverty rates, our people are particularly vulnerable to both fluctuations in jobavailability caused by the health of our manufacturing industry and to increases in energycosts caused by regulation.*** Now, t
he President’s ann
ouncement of his climate change agenda earlier this summer 
didn’t take anyone by surprise
.We expected it.But what it did do was to add urgency to our need to understand the potential impacts of greenhouse gas regulations on our state.
 
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We’ve not had ou
r heads in the sand on climate issues.In fact, a key driver behind the 2008 comprehensive energy plan we designed was the needfor Kentucky to be prepared for eventual federal action on greenhouse gas emissions.At that time, Congress was considering cap-and-trade legislation.We knew that even if cap-and-trade legislation did not succeed, there would be some sortof regulatory plan in due time.So we wrote language into our plan stating quite clearly that federal action on climatechange was
“a matter of when, not if.”
We also stressed that Kentucky’s energy sector would become increasingly influenced by
national and global factors in the coming decades.We are certainly witnessing that influence today.
We’re aware that n
ot everyone agrees on the science of climate change and thus onwhether greenhouse gas regulations are even necessary.I happen to agree with Secretary Peters that climate change is occurring and that humansactually are playing a role in it.
But we’re not here to argue a
 bout whether climate change is happening or not, or to whatextent humans are responsible.
I’ll
 
leave that to the scientists … and we have a few of them here at our conference this
year.
Regardless of anyone’s beliefs, the
nation is moving forward on addressing the issue, andit will continue to do so, even beyond the current administration.There will be federal regulations, and Kentucky will be impacted, and what we must donow is chart a course that allows our state to not only survive but also thrive given thereality of pending federal rules.As most of you know, the federal Environmental Protection Agency will be proposingstandards for new units later this week 
… and t
hese standards will largely inform us as tohow EPA will proceed with rules for existing power plants. Now the EPA has indicated they will be listening to states throughout the process.I intend to make sure they keep their word on this.Because we have a lot at stake.
 
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As the 3
rd
largest coal-producing state and one that relies on coal for more than 92 percentof our electricity, we want our voice to be heard.But for our voice to be taken seriously in the national dialogue, we have to acknowledgeour commitment to addressing greenhouse gas emissions, while stressing the need for arational, flexible regulatory approach.On their part, the feds have to understand that taking coal completely off the table in our 
nation’s
energy-generation mix
 – 
to negate it as an energy source
 – 
is not rational, nor will
it help us achieve our nation’s climate objectives.
That is the task we have before us
 – 
making the case for a truly all-of-the-above nationalenergy policy
not one that makes people on the West coast happy or in the Northeasthappy, but one that works for all states, given their unique energy strengths and economic base.
It’s important that
states retain the flexibility to continue implementing state-driven policies and initiatives under any federal plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.More importantly, policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must account for thevarying resource base across states.As the nation benefits from a return to domestic manufacturing, federal policies must also be prudent in recognizing that affordable and stable energy prices are paramount for energy intensive industries.Concerns about price are real.For example, as you will be hearing from one expert at this conference, adding carboncapture to an existing coal plant using current technologies results in an 80 percent increasein the cost of electricity.It also reduces the power load by 30 percent, meaning 30 percent of the energy output of the plant is redirected to the control technology, creating in effect an energy penalty.Those numbers hurt.And technologies that would reduce the cost and energy penalty are not expected untilaround 2020
 – 
seven years from now.We need flexibility on time to allow technology to catch up.Some states depend on coal for a large share of their electricity generation, others onnatural gas, and others on nuclear.

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