New Carbon Regulations Announced By EPA; What Does It Mean For Indiana?
By Mike Perleberg
(Undated) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is again raising the bar in lowering the amount of carbon emissions in the air, but opponents say the regulations will bog down the economy in Indiana and elsewhere.
The Clean Power Plan proposal unveiled Monday morning would force coal-fired power plants to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The proposal is a component of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan to confront climate change.
There are currently limits on the levels of various chemicals in the air, such as arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit. However, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution levels, according to the agency.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calls carbon pollution – one third of which comes from power plants the EPA says – the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. She says climate change is happening and insists that the U.S. has a moral obligation to act.
“By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids. We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment–our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs,” McCarthy said.
Under the newly announced requirements, Indiana will have to cut its carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2030. Like other states, Indiana has until 2016 to form a plan to achieve the reductions.
The EPA says energy companies in Indiana have already taken steps to meet the stricter standards, including shutting down the American Electric Power Tanners Creek plant in Lawrenceburg by mid-2015.
“Each state is different, so each state’s path can be different,” said McCarthy.
Environmentalists say the reductions are doable while others say the reductions could be potentially devastating to the state. Indiana gets more than three-quarters of its energy from coal-fired power plants.
Republicans are blasting the plan. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called it “a dagger in the heart of the American middle class.” The Kentucky lawmaker warned it would result in higher costs, fewer jobs and a less reliable energy grid.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence issued a response saying the Obama Administration is advancing its anti-coal agenda without regard for the impact on the U.S. economy or workers.
“As a state that relies heavily on coal-burning power plants, these proposed regulations will be devastating for Hoosier workers and families,” Pence said. “They will cost us in higher electricity rates, in lost jobs, and in lost business growth due to a lack of affordable, reliable electricity. Indiana will oppose these regulations using every means available.”
“The proposal makes good on then presidential candidate Obama’s statements in 2008 that under his plan electricity prices would ‘necessarily skyrocket,’ and that anyone who built a coal-fired electricity power plant would be bankrupted.”
Pence said he opposed the rules in 2009 when Democrats in Congress attempted to pass cap and trade, and he opposes them now. The Republican governor said the country would best be served by an all of the above energy strategy incorporating wind, solar, nuclear, natural gas, and coal.
Republican U.S. Senator from Indiana Dan Coats issued a statement echoing many of Pence’s sentiments.
“Our state is highly reliant on coal power plants, which provide Hoosiers with good jobs and some of the most affordable, reliable electricity in the nation. By supporting these regulations, the president is putting our economic well-being, grid reliability and American jobs at risk,” Coats said.
But in the EPA’s announcement, the agency claims the steps it has been taking toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions will shrink electricity bills by roughly eight percent due to increased efficiency and reduced demand. Also to be avoided are 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed school or work days.