FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Greg Vitali
Vitali: Natural gas drilling drives closing of local coal-fired power plants
HARRISBURG, Dec. 2 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, said today that the growth of the natural gas drilling industry is playing a key role in the closing of two local coal-fired electricity generating units.
Vitali, D-Delaware, toured Exelon’s Eddystone Generating Station this morning, accompanied by state Rep. Joe Hackett, R-Delaware, and the station’s Vice President of Operations John Barnes and General Manager Bill Swahl.
One of the Eddystone plant’s two coal-fired electric generation units already closed in May; the other is expected to close in May 2012. The plant’s two remaining units are powered by natural gas and oil.
“My tour this morning was a fact-finding mission,” Vitali said. “I wanted to know how coal-fired electric generation is being impacted by the growth of the natural gas industry.
“I also wanted to determine how much of an impact federal anti-pollution standards and regulations are having on coal-fired plants.”
Vitali said the tour revealed that the driving force behind the coal-fired plant closings at Eddystone is natural gas, not federal pollution regulations.
“The growth of the natural gas drilling industry, which has resulted in increased supplies and lower costs for natural gas, is the main factor in the disappearance of the coal-fired plants,” Vitali said. “Federal air pollution regulations, on the other hand, had very little to do with the closings.”
Vitali said any closings and the attendant loss of jobs are unfortunate.
“However, if there is a silver lining to the closing of these coal-fired units, it is that their replacement by generating stations fueled by natural gas and other cleaner power sources will have significant benefits for the environment,” he said.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, natural gas-fueled electricity generation produces about half as much carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, as well as significantly lower levels of pollutants such as nitrogen, sulfur and mercury.