Focus on climate change could trigger energy industry shift

Emissions could be a driver of the future of the energy business.
Bloomberg photo

Emissions could be a driver of the future of the energy business. 

Suppose in the near future, emitting carbon gets a lot more expensive.

It could happen if Congress ends its stalemate over global warming and passes a climate change bill that would penalize carbon pollution. It could come from the Environmental Protection Agency which already has taken steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other sources.

Hurricane Sandy has drawn more attention to climate change as a legislative issue, and President Barack Obama, in his first press conference after the November election, said the topic will receive increased attention during his second term.

In an interview with Time magazine in December, Obama listed climate change/energy as one of his three priorities.

Less likely, but possible, Pennsylvania’s as-yet-unveiled energy plan could make it more expensive for carbon-intensive industries to operate.

What would it mean for southwestern Pennsylvania’s various energy industries?

“It would be huge for everything but conventional coal,” said Jim Spencer, CEO of EverPower, a wind developer with local operations in Lawrenceville. “Natural gas would benefit. Renewables would benefit and nuclear would benefit. Clean coal would be promoted, but most of Pennsylvania’s obsolete coal facilities would likely be uneconomical to retrofit with pollution control and would be decommissioned (as they should be).”

Indeed, oil and coal would be hit hardest by climate change legislation, said Keith Crane, director of Rand Corp.’s Environment, Energy and Economic Development Program.

Read more in the Pittsburgh Business Times.

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