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UW and University of Pittsburgh Debaters Face Off over Clean Power Plan

October 12, 2016

Student teams from the University of Wyoming and the University of Pittsburgh will participate in a public debate Thursday, Oct. 20, over how states should comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, a regulatory plan that aims to curb greenhouse gas emissions from American electricity production.

Both debate teams will bring a wealth of expertise on public policy surrounding the energy economy and public policy during the free public event at 7 p.m. in the UW Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center auditorium. Food and beverages will be provided.

The Clean Power Plan (CPP) will require states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, yet leaves the specific points of implementation up to the individual states. The debate will compare the difference and desirability of rate-based and mass-based compliance standards.

Carter Henman and Spencer Culver will argue on behalf of UW’s Speech and Debate Union, coached by Travis Cram, director of forensics in the UW Department of Communication and Journalism. The University of Pittsburgh’s William Pitt Debating Union will be represented by Luisa Cusick and Muaz Abdul-Aziz, and coached by Eric English.

“The goal of the debate is to increase student and citizen awareness of what the Clean Power Plan might entail for different states if it withstands legal scrutiny,” Cram says. “Wyoming and Pennsylvania fare very differently depending on what form regulations ultimately take, and my hope is the debaters can go further than the headlines in discussing the CPP.”

Following the debate, an expert panel will discuss Clean Power Plan compliance mechanisms, including both the challenges and opportunities, and answer questions from the audience.

The panel will feature Sen. Chris Rothfuss, Wyoming State Senate minority leader; UW economist Rob Godby, director of the Energy Economics and Public Policies Center; Kipp Coddington, UW Carbon Management Institute director; and UW Assistant Professor Temple Stoellinger in the UW Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, and co-director of the Center for Law and Energy Resources in the Rockies.

“Federal greenhouse gas emissions regulations are very likely to occur in the near future, making it extremely important to determine how to best transition away from carbon-intensive energy sources,” says UW freshman Brent Lamb. “This debate could help us determine the most effective means of complying with those regulations, especially since both universities are from states that are significant energy producers.”

For more information, email Cram at

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