Clean Power Plan ruling open to public comment

by Sarah Fay Campbell

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The EPA’s new coal Clean Power Plan rule could mean big changes to coal-fired power plants, such as Georgia Power Plant Yates in Coweta. The rule likely won’t affect Yates, however, as the plant is scheduled to stop burning coal in 2015. 


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Clean Power Plan” ruling is more than 1,600 pages long and “incredibly complex,” said Mary Ann Bell, senior vice president of communications for Coweta-Fayetteville EMC.

The plan calls for reducing carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2030. The plan is intended to help combat climate change resulting from excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The proposal was released in early June and public hearings have since been held in Atlanta, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh.

Opponents of the plan were a strong presence at the hearings, and in Pittsburg, coal miners rallied.

It is expected that, if implemented, the EPA ruling would cause electrical bills around the country to rise.

"Power suppliers in the state are currently in the process of determining the full financial impact of the EPA proposed rule,” Bell said. "Our goal is to provide the most accurate projection possible and that will take time.”

Though there are no additional hearings scheduled, the public comment period extends through Oct. 16.

If the proposal receives final approval, states will have until 2016 to submit plans for meeting carbon reduction goals.

The Clean Power Plan will be implemented through a state/federal partnership.

According to an EPA press release, the proposal provides guidelines for states to develop plans to meet state-specific goals in the reduction of carbon pollution. The guidelines allow states to work alone to develop individual plans or to work together with other states to develop multi-state plans. Power plants produce about one-third of the carbon emissions in the U.S., according to the EPA. While there are limits on the amount of toxic pollutants plants can emit, there are no current limits on carbon emissions.

In 2009, the EPA determined greenhouse gas pollution, primarily carbon dioxide, leads to long-lasting changes in climate.

"Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama's Climate Action Plan by proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut harmful carbon pollution from our largest source – power plants,” McCarthy said. "By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change.”

Coweta-Fayette EMC is encouraging its members and others to speak out on the plan.

"We’re concerned the EPA is making a decision that could force an increase in the cost of electricity and erode the reliability of our power supply,” said Coweta-Fayette EMC President and CEO Tony Sinclair. "If prices rise, we're worried the trickle-down effect could be severe in the counties we serve,” Sinclair said. "Higher prices created artificially due to mandated EPA actions and not as a result of true economic necessity would hurt businesses of all types, potentially leading to slower job growth or even loss of jobs.”

Find out more about the plan or by visiting www.2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards.

Comments can be faxed to 202-566-9744 or mailed to: Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC) Mailcode 28221T, Attention: Docket ID No. OAR-2013-0602, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20460.

Voice opposition to the plan by visiting www.TellEPA.com

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