New Coal Pollution Limits Challenge Industry

Sep 20, 2013 8:55am

Morning Money Memo…

These are tough times for America’s coal industry, and another challenge is coming today. The Obama administration is announcing EPA requirements for new coal-fired power plants, moving to impose for the first time strict limits on the pollution blamed for global warming. The proposal would help reshape where Americans get electricity, away from a coal-dependent past into a future fired by cleaner sources of energy. President Obama says new rules would help end “the limitless dumping of carbon pollution” from power plants.

Under the proposal, new coal-powered power plants would have to install expensive technology to capture carbon dioxide and bury it underground. No coal-fired power plant has done that yet, in large part because of the cost. The coal industry, which is struggling to compete with cheaper and cleaner natural gas, accounts for 40 percent of US electricity. But coal’s share is declining. The regulations have been in the works since 2011 and stem from a 1970 law passed by Congress to control air pollution. In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that that law, the Clean Air Act, could be applied to heat-trapping pollution.

The recent rally on the stock market could be over for a while with concern shifting from the Federal Reserve to Congress. The stock market snapped a four-day winning streak late yesterday with a drop for the averages. The Dow was down 40 points, coming off a record high after the Fed announced no change in its bond buying policy. The Dow Jones Industrial index is up more than 5.5 percent this month. Market watchers warn that gridlock in Congress over the budget and on raising the Federal government’s debt ceiling are threats to the economy and the direction of stocks.

A new study suggests that the steady rise in US home values is increasingly motivating homeowners to make paying their mortgage on time a priority. Since the recession consumers have been giving greater priority to making timely payments on auto loans ahead of credit cards and home loans. Credit reporting firm TransUnion says through last year, as home values have increased, the late-payment rate on mortgages nearly closed the gap with that of credit cards.

Freddie Mac says average rates on fixed mortgages declined this week. The mortgage buyer says the average rate on the 30-year loan fell to 4.50 percent from 4.57 percent last week. Reports out this week suggest the housing recovery continues to gain strength.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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