Rural Missouri - June 2017 - 12
photos by Jim McCarty and Paul Newton
Above: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt received a standing ovation from the crowd of electric cooperative and ag leaders after declaring "the war on coal is over" during his remarks at the
Thomas Hill Energy Center, a coal-ﬁred power plant that supplies electricity for electric co-ops. Top right: U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt thanked Pruitt for his common-sense approach on regulations,
saying under the previous administrator EPA would have doubled electric bills for Missourians. Bottom right: Pruitt gets a tour of the Thomas Hill plant from Plant Manager Stephen Iwanowicz.
'The war on coal is over'
EPA administrator pledges support for coal during Thomas Hill visit
by Jim McCarty | firstname.lastname@example.org
tion of Missouri Electric Cooperatives during his introductory remarks. "We are
encouraged to see that the Trump administration understands the concerns of
hen EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt made an unprecedented visit people in rural America and is committed to bringing the change they want."
Hart also pointed out the contributions the plant makes to the community,
to Associated Electric Cooperative's Thomas Hill Energy Center on
April 20, two of the power plant's three coal-ﬁred units were in beyond providing low-cost electricity to co-op members in Missouri and parts of
operation. Those waiting to hear his remarks challenged each other Iowa and Oklahoma. He said the Thomas Hill plant alone employs 223 people
to identify which two - but looking at the three smokestacks, no one could tell who earn an average of $35 per hour. The monthly payroll is $1.1 million and
the plant's average budget is $200 million.
for sure which ones were generating.
Pruitt told those gathered that they should be celebrating the fact that while
The more than $1 billion invested by Associated at its two coal plants has
cut emissions to the point that nothing visible comes from the stacks on most the U.S. economy has increased its use of electricity, emissions from coal-ﬁred
days. And that was exactly the point the administrator wanted to make in his power plants have declined thanks to a massive investment in technology.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt also spoke. "The power rules would have impacted
second stop on a tour of U.S. energy sites.
our state more than almost any other state," Blunt said of the Obama
"Rather than regulating an entire industry out of business,
I'm committed to working in coordination with states to create
administration's regulations. "It would have doubled our rates."
a healthy environment where jobs and businesses can grow.
Blunt praised the efforts of Pruitt to roll back unnecessary regulaThat's the purpose of my Back-to-Basics agenda," said Pruitt.
tions that harm the economy, including the Waters of the United
States rule he said would have made 99 percent of Missouri land
"Last week I went underground in a Pennsylvania coal mine, and
today I got a ﬁrsthand look at a Missouri coal-ﬁred power plant.
subject to federal regulation. "He has made a new commitment to
Coal is, and will continue to be, a critical part of America's energy
do what EPA is supposed to do - look for problems and solve
them," Blunt said. "We have people looking at these rules now
mix. I saw today just how important this fuel source is to affordable
from the standpoint of families who have to pay their utilities."
electricity and economic development in the region, especially in the
The Thomas Hill site in north-central Missouri provided
a perfect backdrop for the event, given its strong record of
His comment that "the war on coal is over" brought a standing
ovation from the 200 electric cooperative leaders, power plant employees and
protecting the environment. The plant was built in 1966 at the
ag industry ofﬁcials in the audience. "We can do both: growth and protect our mouth of a coal mine. The land has been reclaimed to a condition that is better
environment," Pruitt added. "Since 1980, we've seen a 65-percent reduction in than it was before being mined. Generation cooperative Associated Electric was
honored for its reclamation efforts, in addition to being named "Wind Cooperapollution in this country."
Joining Pruitt on stage were Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Elec- tive of the Year" for making possible Missouri's ﬁrst wind farm.
The plant is used to hack once endangered peregrine falcons and is home to
tric Cooperative Association, and a host of Missouri leaders, including U.S.
Sen. Roy Blunt, U.S. Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Blaine Luetkemeyer, Missouri osprey, bald eagles, deer, wild turkey and a host of other wildlife. The Thomas
Attorney General Josh Hawley and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Missouri Hill Reservoir was built to provide cooling water for the plant, but it also is an
Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn and Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake important ﬁsheries habitat. It's considered one of the best places in the state
Hurst. Also attending the event were state Reps. Travis Fitzwater, Tim Remole for winter ﬁshing due to its warm water releases.
"We're not going to have a war on coal anymore, and we can have both jobs
and Chuck Bayse.
Pruitt took to the road in April to explain key concepts outlined in President and a clean environment," said Rep. Hartzler, whose fourth congressional disTrump's executive order on energy independence and economic growth that trict includes the power plant. "Instead of shutting down power plants like this
was issued March 28. The order called for a review of the Clean Power Plan cre- one, we're going to celebrate the good work that they are doing and keep elecated by the previous administration that would have drastically increased rates tricity affordable."
Added David Tudor, CEO of Associated Electric Cooperative, "Responsible
for electric cooperative members in Missouri and most other states.
Missouri electric cooperative members spoke out against the Obama plan by coal generation plays a key role in making sure rural America has access to
sending more than 300,000 messages to EPA when it asked for comments on affordable power it can count on. Based on his visit today and our conversation, it is clear to me Administrator Pruitt's vision and priorities for the EPA
the new regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
"Those comments fell on deaf ears," said Barry Hart, CEO of the Associa- align with the values of Associated Electric and our members."
RURAL MISSOURI | JUNE 2017