- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Representatives from the state and the utility and mining industries say they expect new limits to be released on carbon dioxide emissions that could hurt the economy.

A two-day energy conference that opened Monday, sponsored by Gov. Matt Mead and the Wyoming Business Report, included panels on oil and uranium. But in a state that collects $1.2 billion in biannual coal revenues, much of the early discussion focused on concern about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new emissions standards for existing coal-fired power plants, which are expected to be released June 2, the Casper Star-Tribune reported Tuesday.

“We are interested in not just our own state, but also in powering the rest of the country and the world, and I don’t think you’re going to get there without coal,” Mead told KCWY-TV.

Mead said Wyoming’s plans for protecting the environment are better than those of the EPA, the station reported.

During the conference, Steve Dietrich, administrator of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality Division, expressed concern that the EPA rules would require companies to use technology that has yet to be commercially proven.

Dan Byers, senior director for policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, noted the upcoming EPA rules are expected to be “unprecedented in complexity and cost.”

An official with the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association said a separate EPA rule essentially would require new coal plants to be as efficient as natural gas facilities.

Barbara Walz, the utility’s vice president of compliance, said the carbon capture technology needed to achieve that is expensive and would cause wholesale electricity costs to rise 70 to 80 percent initially. She said costs will fall as the technology improves, but they are still expected to be 30 to 40 percent higher than they are now.

But Richard Garrett, an energy policy analyst at the Wyoming Outdoor Council, an environmental group, called for bold steps.

“Climate change is upon us, and it will become a bigger and bigger burden for our children,” the Star-Tribune quoted Garrett as saying.

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