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EPA's plan to cut carbon emission may be a win for Northwest Lou - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

EPA's plan to cut carbon emission may be a win for Northwest Louisiana's economy

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SHREVEPORT, La. -
Environmentalists around the nation gave the EPA and President Obama a standing ovation for the Clean Power Plan. The plan, which was released earlier in June, demands U.S. power companies cut their carbon emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030. It's also a plan to encourage energy companies to use natural gas to power the nation because it burns much cleaner. That could both hurt and benefit us here in the Haynsville Shale area.


Coal power plants account for about 1/3 of greenhouse gas emissions, which many believe is causing dangerous global climate change. If more power plants use natural gas to create electricity dirty emissions will be cut, but some say consumers will pay more for power. Northwest Louisiana, on the other hand, stands to gain. Ragan Dickens, local spokesman for Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, says an increase in natural  gas usage will bring jobs and an economic boost to the Haynesville Shale.


State audit finds area oil and gas wells go unregulated 


"In the Haynesville Shale, we've go operators here that are waiting to drill when demand goes up," Dickens said. "As demand goes up, the price of natural gas will creep up a little bit. Not so much to effect the consumer on the other side, but really just to allow these drillers to go in and operate."


However, the EPA's plan doesn't sit well with LOGA, even if it'll encourage more natural gas usage. LOGA is concerned the plan gives the EPA too much power and worries this could be a slippery slop toward more regulation in other energy sectors. 


"So, our question is, with the EPA, how far will they go?" Dicken said. "They have a history of being an over reaching regulatory group."


Haynesville Shale: Job Market Future


There's also concern about the price of natural gas and the cost to cut carbon emissions. Scott McCloud, the local spokesman for AEP SWEPCO, believes customers will be burdened with additional costs. He says natural gas is too expensive to power the nation.


"Coal is still two times cheaper than gas," McCloud said. "Gas is so volatile, especially in cold weather the demand for gas is so high. The cost just skyrockets."


The cost to build natural gas power plants is nearly half a billion dollars. McCloud says building new scrubbers, or filters, to capture coal plant emissions can cost millions, too. These are expenses passed onto customers in their bills. McCloud believes power bills could go up 30 percent or more as power companies comply with the EPA. However, it shouldn't be a permanent increase. McCloud says bills would lower after plant renovations and construction are over.

PSC Member: new EPA plan will drive up power costs


"At the end of the actual retrofit program, once you've got the plants built and you have a place to recover the cost, then yes those costs will eventually go back to normal," McCloud said.


He points out AEP SWEPCO has only built a few natural gas power plants and prefers to retro fit coal plants with better scrubbers to cut carbon emissions. The EPA's Clean Power Plan is a state and federal partnership to lower carbon emissions. States and their power companies have until 2016 to present their carbon cutting plans.
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