A new federal plan to reduce global warming triggered strong and immediate backlash as expected from industry groups anticipating increased electricity and environmental costs, but now even the developer of a cleaner burning natural gas power plant proposed for Lordstown is denouncing the plan.
"It's an absolute whole blanket for the entire U.S. economy, all in the name of CO2, which isn't even an issue," said Bill Siderewicz, president of Clean Energy Future. "It's about as silly as you can get."
Siderewicz, who is proposing construction of an $800 million natural-gas powered electric generating plant in Lordstown, reacted Wednesday to the plan introduced earlier in the week by President Barack Obama calling for massive and lasting reduction of pollution discharged by American power plants. The federal plan calls for a 30 percent overall reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from 2005 to 2030.
The result, Siderewicz said, will be "skyrocketing" electric costs for both commercial and residential users.
"CO2 removal doesn't happen for free ... And then you have to do something with it after it's removed," Siderewicz said. "The cost of electricity will go up. Every home owner and apartment dweller and business will see their electric fees go up.
"If this comes down, it would be an absolute disaster for any energy company that owns a coal plant," he said.
Siderewicz passed on the opportunity to use the measure to help promote his proposal to build the natural gas powered plant despite the fact that, in general, natural gas plants emit about half as much carbon dioxide as coal-burning plants producing the same amount of electricity.
A vote on the requested zoning change for the 57-acre parcel at 1107 Salt Springs Road, necessary for the plant's construction, is expected at the Lordstown Planning Commission meeting Monday evening.
But Siderewicz said his 34 years in the energy industry and extensive engineering training make him doubtful of any connection between humans and global climate change.
"It's difficult to argue for if you have a problem with the premise," he said.
Debate over the issue, argued for years, has suddenly ramped up with the announcement last week of Obama's proposal.
The U.S. Environmental protection agency has estimated the plan would lead to more than 6 percent increases in utility costs by 2020 to fund investments needed to comply. Critics have argued that increasing manufacturers' electricity costs will lead to increased off-shore production.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, however, is more convinced of a link between human activities and climate change. Last week he supported Obama's plan.
Calling the plan "critical steps toward combating global warming," Ryan said 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide pollution is "reasonable."
"Not only are these regulations beneficial to the environment, estimates also show that they will result in $55 to $95 billion economic benefits over the proposal's lifetime," Ryan said. "The high levels of pollution we see today directly affect the health of millions of Americans. Estimates show that this proposal will prevent 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 asthma attacks. There is no reason not to act now and work to prevent these harmful public health conditions from occurring."
Ryan also noted the plan does not require specific action from individual power plants but rather calls for a larger approach that states can tailor to their economies depending on where they get a majority of their electricity.
Speaking out against the measure was API President and CEO Jack Gerard.
API, or the American Petroleum Institute, is an oil and gas industry national trade association.
Gerard said he believes the plan will have a "chilling effect on energy investment that could cost jobs, raise electricity prices and make energy less reliable."
Gerard noted the air already is getting cleaner under existing regulations and carbon emissions are down due to technological advancements developed by the private sector.
"We can continue to make environmental progress without damaging the economy," Gerard said.