NRDC Flip-Flops on Coal Use

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A representative from the NRDC testified in front of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee last week regarding the EPA’s proposed rules on carbon limits for new coal plants. Amazingly, the NRDC’s testimony indicated the organization might have flip-flopped on coal.

Though the NRDC is well-known to oppose coal use under any circumstances, NRDC Director of Climate Programs David Hawkins seemed to suggest otherwise in his testimony when he said, “I continue to believe that it is possible to forge a consensus that includes a role for coal.”

Perhaps this hypocrisy was simply an attempt to lend gravitas to the testimony – it’s hard to be taken credibly when you radically advocate for the end of all fossil fuel, nuclear, and most hydro electricity, which together make up 95 percent of our energy consumption. Or, perhaps the NRDC is simply talking out of both sides of its mouth again. It does have a blatant history of hypocrisy.

The EPA’s proposed carbon rules essentially require new coal plants to be constructed using carbon capture and storage—technology that hasn’t been adequately tested and proven on a large commercial scale. The EPA’s own Science Committee criticized the standards, arguing that the rationale behind the rules is unscientific and in violation of the EPA’ s rules requiring the agency to only issue environmental mandates that industry can comply with using adequately demonstrated technology. Hawkins, with no engineering or technical background, disagreed with the Committee’s assessment arguing not only that the technology exists but that it can be “easily achieve[d].” This view is widely out of step with the consensus opinion that such technology is still in its infancy and has not been proven safe or effective.

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