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WVU conference to focus on new rules for carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants

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The third annual national energy conference at West Virginia University will focus on new rules from the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Featuring experts from government, the private sector and environmental organizations, the conference will explore how these new laws will be navigated and affect the power industry, states and communities.

The conference, sponsored by Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, will be Monday, Feb. 24 at the Erickson Alumni Center. Hosting the event is the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development at the WVU College of Law.

U.S. Senator Joseph Manchin III, D-W.Va., will deliver the opening keynote address. A member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Manchin recently sponsored legislation that addresses the EPA's regulation of power plant emissions.

Coal-fired power plants supply about 40 percent of the electricity generated in the United States, but contribute 80 percent of the power sector's carbon dioxide emissions. The EPA has already issued proposed rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants, and within the next few months will issue proposals to regulate existing power plants, as well.

"The actions the EPA is taking to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants are of vital importance to West Virginia and other coal-dependent regions of the country," said James Van Nostrand, director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development.

He said it's a critical time to get involved in shaping the EPA's rules and their implementation.

"While the percentage of electricity generated from coal is expected to decline over the next three decades, coal will continue to play an important role in America's energy future and West Virginia's economy," he said.

The EPA's carbon dioxide emission standards are expected to provide flexibility to states and to allow a number of compliance options. However, there are financial and logistical challenges associated with the new regulations.

"It may be very difficult for a state to meet the emissions reductions required, and doing so will likely be very costly," said Van Nostrand. "For coal-dependent states, the impact could be even greater as the likely result will be less coal burned, leading to job losses in the extraction industry."

The public is invited to attend the conference, and admission is free. Registration, however, is required for the lunch, featuring keynote speaker Charles Patton, president and chief operating officer of Appalachian Power Company.

The conference is also offering Continuing Legal Education credit for attorneys for a standard fee. For details or to register for the conference, go to energy.law.wvu.edu/energy-conference-2014 or call (304) 293-0064.

In addition to the conference, the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development is in the process of issuing a series of discussion papers to help guide policymakers on the regulation of (CO2) emissions from coal-fired power plants. The discussion papers are available at energy.law.wvu.edu.