New EPA Regulations Impact Wyoming's Coal Industry

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In an effort to comply with new EPA regulations, Wyoming must reduce carbon emissions by 19% by 2030.

Which Wyoming public officials say could require shutting down a number of coal-fire plants.

85% of Wyoming's electricity is powered by coal and public officials say if Wyoming moves away from coal-powered energy, residents could see an increase in energy bills.

Mayor Meyer says, "at this point, I just don't think natural gas or wind are far enough to be a vialble alternative."

For Wyoming residents currently working in the coal industry, job security may depend upon upcoming elections.

"Democrats will further the policy. Republicans will say 'hey, let's wait and see until we have a viable alternative and then we'll approach this."

Sen. Charles Scott [R] says, "I think you have seen some reduction of jobs in the coal industry."

Still, Senator Scott and Mayor Meyer agree, Wyomingites are looking at an increase in their electric bills.

"Wyoming residents can expect this whole thing to start driving up their energy prices."

Mayor Paul Meyer: "I've heard the opposite: 'oh no, it'll get cheaper!'-- it will not. There is no way that electric power will be chearper in the future."

However, Mayor Meyer says moving away from coal is not the way to go.

"Trying to preserve and protect our environment and our atmosphere and our clean water and the air we breathe is great stuff, but I think we're very premature trying to replace an entity like coal that drives so much of our electricity."

Many are wondering if this will result in a state income tax in Wyoming's future.

Sen. Scott says, "[Wyoming] has no need for an income tax and we have developed over the years in our permanent funds, which are now counting all of them, around ten billion dollars." Scott continues, "as long as the country continues to need energy, Wyoming's got it to sell in whatever form they want."

The regulation is currently in a 120-day comment period.