WASHINGTON, D.C. — The goal of a new proposed rule from the federal Environmental Protection Agency is to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants in the U.S. by a national average of 30 percent — compared with 2005 levels — before 2030.
“Climate change that’s fueled by carbon pollution is super charging risks, not just to our health, but to our communities, to our economy and to our way of life,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Can we cut pollution while keeping our energy affordable and reliable? Sure we can. We can and we will.”
On Monday at EPA headquarters, McCarthy detailed the 645-page draft rule that would give states differing deadlines and options for meeting emission-reduction targets that also would vary by state.
With the flexibility, states could meet their individualized targets by reducing energy demand through more energy efficiency programs, by utilizing solar, wind energy or natural gas more or by installing pollution-control technology.
“The goal is achievable because innovations in the production, distribution and use of electricity are already making the power sector more efficient and sustainable while maintaining an affordable, reliable and diverse energy mix,” read part of the proposed rule.
Even with the requirements in the proposed rule, officials with the EPA said the two leading sources of electricity generation in the United States would be coal and natural gas with each providing more than 30 percent of expected generation by the 2030 target date. Currently, about 40 percent of the country’s energy comes from coal.
Critics, though, have claimed the new emissions limits will cost billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs by relying on technology that has not yet been developed while, at the same time, driving up electricity prices nationwide.
“I look at this and I see that they (the proposed emissions limits) are going to have real, harmful impacts on West Virginia, not just the coal miners specifically, but all of the indirect jobs too. It’s unacceptable because it doesn’t address the impact, the livelihood of West Virginians and our families,” said Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a U.S. Senate candidate.
“This is cap-and-trade in another cloak,” said Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, a U.S. Senate candidate. “This is just, obviously, West Virginia under attack. I think if we didn’t understand the term ‘War on Coal,’ I think today the declaration is in its final stages and I think it will be devastating to our coal industries, our families, our communities and other jobs.”
Both Tennant and Capito were guests on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline” as the EPA’s proposal was released to the public.
“What is most baffling about President Obama’s new rules is that reports indicate they will only reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.8 percent while the global carbon emission levels are expected to increase by 31 percent between 2011 and 2030,” said Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, in a statement.
“This is just unnecessarily hindering our economy while the rest of the world waves and passes us.”
State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey called the proposed rule a “sweeping and draconian proposal.” “My office will review every line, of every paragraph, or every page of this proposal and take all legal actions necessary to protect West Virginia jobs, uphold the rule of law and challenge this unprecedented attack on coal miners and their families,” Morrisey said.
In July, four public hearings on the proposed rule will be held in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., Denver, Co. and Pittsburgh, Pa.
Comments can be submitted, using the Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602, online at www.regulations.gov, via e-mail at A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov, through fax at 202-566-9744 or by mail to EPA, EPA Docket Center, Mail code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20460.
The proposed EPA rule could be finalized by June of next year. After that, states would have at least a year to craft their own plans.