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Pruitt’s Efforts To Keep Coal Alive Fall Flat With Chamber of Commerce

By Rebecca Thiele, IPB News | Published on in Business, Environment, Government, Statewide News
From left to right: Greg Ellis of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) who proposed the moratorium, and Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) at a pre-session panel in December. (Rebecca Thiele/IPB News)
From left to right: Greg Ellis of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) who proposed the moratorium, and Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) at a pre-session panel in December. (Rebecca Thiele/IPB News)

Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt didn’t convince the Indiana Chamber of Commerce to change its mind about an energy moratorium in Indiana. The coal lobbyist had hoped to revive legislation that would have placed a temporary hold on large utility projects.

Pruitt recently registered as a lobbyist with Rail Point Solutions LLC, a subsidiary of the coal company Hallador Energy. In a press release, Hallador says utilities like Vectren and NIPSCO shouldn’t close down their coal plants at a time when the Trump administration is likely to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules.

Greg Ellis, vice president of energy and environmental policy for the Chamber of Commerce, disagrees. He says these big energy projects take years and utilities can’t wait for last-minute reversals in the law.

“I’d say it’s bad business to not be able to plan for the future,” he says.

Ellis says business groups, environmentalists, and energy advocates have all come out against the energy moratorium, which failed in the state House.

READ MORE: Moratorium On Big Utility Projects Lifted From State Bill

“So I think that’s of note that all of the groups that have their own interests said hey this is a bad idea,” Ellis says.

Hallador says adding renewable energy and natural gas would be costly for Indiana ratepayers, but Ellis argues so would keeping the aging coal plants running.

Sunrise Coal, which has a location in Terre Haute, is also a subsidiary of Hallador Energy Company.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.