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North Carolina Will Fight New EPA Clean Power Plan

Coal fired power plant
eutrophication&hypoxia via Flickr, Creative Commons

North Carolina state lawmakers and officials are vowing to fight the Obama Administration’s new clean power plant rules.

The EPA Clean Power Plan calls for a 32% reduction in greenhouse gases coming from power plants by 2030. It requires each state to submit a plan to meet goals laid out specific to its situation. And even though North Carolina isn’t a coal-producing state, leaders here strongly oppose the plan.

"Not only will these new federal rules raise electricity rates, they have the potential to jeopardize the success we've made in making North Carolina's air the cleanest it's been since we began tracking air quality back in the 1970s," Governor Pat McCrory said in a release.

The release also stated that the McCrory Administration plans a legal challenge to the final rule.

Before the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan, McCrory administrators were busy fighting the effort on Capitol Hill.

“Simply stated, if the EPA wants to upend the world’s greatest power system by forcing a round peg into a square hole, it should have the prudence to allow the rule to be reviewed by the courts before requiring states to undertake such a profound effort,” said Donald van der Vaart, the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in testimony earlier this year before a Congressional committee.

Proponents of the stronger greenhouse gas rules say North Carolina is already on its way toward meeting the new standards, thanks to two efforts: the recent shuttering of older coal-burning power plants and the growth in renewable energy.

“Which just makes you scratch your head about why the (McCrory) administration is so dogmatic in digging in its heels and making things difficult and wasting resources fighting something that doesn’t need to be fought,” said Frank Rambo, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

A bill making its way through the state Senate would prohibit DENR from developing any plan to meet the new EPA rules. The state House, meanwhile, as well as DENR, favors moving ahead with creating a state plan while the EPA rules are adjudicated in the courts.

“This rule marks an important turning point in the U.S. climate debate,” said Jonas Monast, director of the Climate and Energy Program at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. “The EPA’s Clean Power Plan answers the question of whether the nation should act to reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector. Now it will be up to state governments to decide exactly how to do so.”

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