‘Patently false’ to claim health and climate benefits from closure of American coal plants

Testifying before Indiana’s 21st Century Energy Task Force, electricity markets expert and regulatory attorney, Mike Nasi, advises Indiana policymakers that it’s ‘patently false’ for anyone to claim health benefits from the closure of coal power plants.
Mike Nasi: “It is absolutely false to keep on claiming benefits of pollution reduction when we drop our ambient levels below what is safe. The Clean Air Act doesn’t actually establish air quality standards for what is clean. Clean is untethered to science. The question is: is it safe? So, the EPA establishes standards of where our ambient air is safe, and it actually adds a margin of safety, a buffer. And, because we are complying across the board — and even in those instances that we’re not, it’s not driven by stationary sources — it is false, patently false as a matter of toxicology and law to assign externalities in terms of benefits to when you prematurely retire coal. And, that is particularly true and very troubling in states like Indiana who have been proactive and whose ratepayers actually spent the money to pay for the controls. […]
My last comment is about carbon dioxide. Because I’ve just talked about the pollutants we know hurt people, now I’m going to talk about the pollutants people are concerned about might be driving climate change in terms of anthropogenic forcing — man-made forcing. What I”m showing you here is not a slide from an industry study. It is taking the IPCC MAGICC Model, the model they used to estimate what the actual impacts on global concentrations of CO2 will be in 2050. That’s the construct under which most of the agreements are negotiated — certainly Paris and moving forward. You plug in the emissions inventory from EIA in the table and what you get is you get to decide how much are we really moving the needle with these decisions. And, it sounds a little provocative to the world doesn’t need windmills and solar panels in Indiana. This chart tells you we can zero out the entire US coal fleet, […] when you model it for 2050, it’s 0.4 percent of the global pool. That doesn’t mean we should not be doing anything, but we cannot accept economic analysis that claim benefits, especially large economic benefits associated with CO2 reductions in a scenario like that.”
21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force
Hearing Indiana House Chamber
October 31, 2019