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NC House Braces For EPA Rules On Climate Change

Photo: A Duke Energy coal-fired plant in Arden, N.C.
Michael Phillips via Creative Commons

The North Carolina House of Representatives has approved a plan to comply with proposed federal requirements to curb planet-warming carbon pollution from power plants.

House Bill 571 would create an advisory board comprised of energy companies and environmental advocates to advise the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The bill, approved in an 84-33 vote, now goes before the Senate.

Some states have challenged the authority of the Clean Air Act, a federal law that in part would reduce planet-warming carbon pollution from coal-fired plants. It would require all states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and replace that production with cleaner forms of energy, potentially shutting down coal plants across the country—and in North Carolina.

But Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Hendersonville) said the plan approved by the House would not preclude North Carolina from joining any suit challenging the Clean Air Act, and that energy companies and environmental groups have asked for the state to prepare in the likely event that North Carolina and other states are forced to comply with federal rules.

"It’s a bill to make sure the state doesn’t get caught with its pants down," McGrady said in a House hearing on Monday.

Representatives who voted against the House bill said North Carolina should be challenging the federal tyranny of the Environmental Protection Agency—rather than preparing for it.

"I consider the EPA unconstitutional in the first place," said Rep. Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus). "It shouldn’t exist."

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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