By Paritosh Kasotia
In an article appearing in St. Louis yesterday, it’s no surprise that St. Louis business and political leaders criticize the EPA carbon regulations as a threat to the state economy. The panel was hosted by the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce and organized by the Partnership for a Better Energy Future, a group affiliated with the US Chamber of Commerce and the coal industry groups.
So, does the article represent the majority opinion of businesses in St. Louis? Ameren, a major utility company based in St. Louis which gets 70% of its power from coal power plants has offered a different perspective regarding the EPA Clean Power Plan rules which are more conciliatory and productive in reaching a middle ground that would address the concerns of all stakeholders.
Similarly, in a letter to the editor of the MinnPost, Mary Timmel, Midwest Outreach Manager of the Small Business Majority provides an opinion in support of the EPA Clean Power Plan. According to a survey conducted by the Small Business Majority, climate change and extreme weather events cause real financial hardships for small employers. According to Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Missourians paid an estimate $1.8 billion or $1,100 per taxpayer, in federal taxes to clean up the damage from extreme weather events in 2012. EPA’s Clean Power Plan aims to reduce carbon emissions and in turn mitigate the climate change impact, and is seen as a positive development among small business owners. By just investing in energy efficiency, which is one of the building blocks of the Clean Power Plan, Missouri businesses could save $183 million in 2020 alone.
Other benefits that cannot be overlooked include the health benefits and the economic benefits. Substituting coal power plants with clean energy industries such as wind and solar have the potential to create thousands of jobs. In addition, advancing wind and solar industries would keep the Missouri dollars in Missouri which are currently spent outside the state to import $1.6 billion worth of coal from surrounding states.
Bottom line is that the EPA Power Plan does create some losers but mostly a lot of winners. Coal companies who see this as a threat to their business and economic models can take a proactive approach and strategically plan to shift their investments from coal to clean energy technologies. It’s not only the US government that is pushing for it but also the US citizens who are demanding cleaner options.
The clean energy future is here and is a level playing field. Those who are able to see the opportunities amidst the threats will be the winners in the long run.