EPA Releases Draft Rule To Cut Carbon Emissions - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

EPA Releases Draft Rule To Cut Carbon Emissions

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North Dakota has enough coal to last for generations, but those who burn it to create electricity say it could potentially go to waste. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has released a new rule to regulate carbon emissions at power plants that burn fossil fuels... Like coal. And the new plan calls for North Dakota to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 11 percent by 2030.

Environmentalists praise the idea, while others say it's a costly one.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy gave highlights on how the plan will work, through each state tailoring a plan to suit its energy needs and portfolio. McCarthy says the plan is ambitious, but it is attainable, something utilities and lignite industry leaders in North Dakota say is a stretch.

"Our plan aims to cut energy waste, and leverage cleaner energy sources by doing two things. First, by setting achievable and enforceable state goals to cut carbon pollution per mega watt hour of electricity generated," says McCarthy.

The clean power plan would use carbon dioxide emission data from 2005 as a benchmark, and calls for a 30 percent reduction in emissions by the year 2030.

"This is about protecting our health and it is about protecting our homes,” says McCarthy.

North Dakota gets 79 percent of its electricity from coal, and opponents say the emission goals come with a high cost.

"If it's achievable at an exponential increase in electricity prices then it's not worth doing. It's not realistic to ask us to do that," says Lignite Energy Council President, Jason Bohrer.

Bohrer says the current proposal could lead to serious consequences for consumers and do little to address climate change.

"States that have done the types of things that the EPA is expecting states to do which is perhaps to make a carbon market, states in the North East that have done that have an average electricity prices that are almost 40% higher than other states," says Bohrer.

"Consumers are the ones that pay the bills for the regulations," according to Dale Niezwaag. As the legislative representative for Basin Electric, Niezwaag has been monitoring the rule making process.

EPA Administrator McCarthy visited North Dakota in February, and met with electric co-ops like Basin Electric at the Greater Synfuels Plant.

"We stressed when the administrator was out here that there needed to be a path forward with coal, but from what we've been hearing I don't know if there's a path forward for coal in the current rule," says Niezwaag.

But environmental groups are praising the rule, saying it could bring billions of dollars in health care savings by cleaning the air we breathe.

"The EPA's proposal is very reasonable. North Dakota will be creating the plan that will reach these goals so there is enough flexibility and time to do it so we'll be able to meet these regulations." says Wayde Schafer from the North Dakota chapter of the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club, along with Basin Electric and the Lignite Council, says it plans to submit comments on the proposed rule.

The comment period on the proposed rule was extended from 60 days to 120.


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