Coal-Fired Plant Pollution Standards Reduced
March 08, 2018
House votes to loosen coal-fired plant air pollution standards; Layoffs down, but unemployment rebounds; Oil falls on US supply.
- House votes to loosen coal-fired plant air pollution standards. The Satisfying Energy Needs and Saving the Environment Act (SENSE Act) would reduce pollution standards for power plants that burn coal refuse, a waste byproduct of coal mining. Coal refuse plants, which mostly exist in Pennsylvania, are much more challenging to alter to reduce pollution to levels in keeping with the 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule. Opponents argued the bill would add a regulatory exemption that would increase pollution, and would prohibit the EPA from making rules more stringent in the future. Proponents argued that burning coal refuse was itself a means of reducing the environmental impact of energy production. [The Hill]
Economic Indicators & News
- Layoffs down, but unemployment rebounds. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose slightly from its 48-year low last week, but overall labor market conditions were positive, as US-based employers announced 20% fewer job cuts in the month of February, conditions which continue to boost wage growth and inflation. Unemployment claims weighed in at 231,000 for the week ending March 3, surpassing economists’ estimates by about 10,000. Claims have been below the 300,000 threshold for 157 straight weeks. [Reuters]
- Oil falls on US supply. Oil fell Thursday, following a stronger US dollar and rising US oil production. Brent fell an additional 0.7%, after falling 4.4% last week. The US inventory build-up was not as large as expected but chatter about the President’s tariff policy pushed commodities downward. US output is expected to surge past that of Russia by late this year, exceeding 11 million barrels per day and further decreasing market share of Russia and other OPEC nations, hampering that group’s ability to curb supply and boost prices. [Reuters]