HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Sixteen states will have tougher carbon dioxide reduction targets than they originally planned now that President Barack Obama has presented his final plan to cut emissions from U.S. power plants.
Obama’s plan, which would reduce emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, was met with dismay by leaders in some of those states who had supported the original proposal in June 2014.
“At first glance, it looks as though the Obama administration has moved the goal post on us. I am extremely disappointed by this,” said Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana. “I understand that we need to address climate change, but how we do so has to work for Montana.”
The final rule ended up with a more stringent target for emissions reductions for two main reasons — renewable sources such as wind and solar are getting cheaper and easier to build, and the EPA considered that states in some cases could easily source clean power from neighbors if they didn’t have the capacity to generate it themselves.
Also, the states’ ongoing efforts to reduce energy demand won’t be included in their baseline measurements the way that other factors, like replacing coal plants with cleaner sources, will be.
“In the proposal we looked at each state in isolation,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s office of air and radiation. “In the final rule we have opened it up so we could look at capacity for renewables and natural gas across the region.”
Emissions targets have been loosened for 31 states, but the more stringent goals for the others make the plan more ambitious than originally proposed. Montana’s target had been to cut its emissions rate 21 percent by 2030, now that goal is 47 percent.
Wyoming, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas are the other states among the 16 that will have to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions the most, compared to the original proposal. Some, like Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, had sticker shock upon seeing the new regulations.
“The final rule released today is twice as bad for Kansas as the proposed rule released last summer,” Brownback said.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said the regulations exceed the government’s authority, while North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer said he was looking for a judicial block that would allow Congress to repeal the rule.
In some of the states that rely less on coal-fired electricity, such as sun-soaked Nevada and hydroelectric rich Oregon, officials expressed their support and said they were well-positioned to comply.
“Nevada has been ahead of this curve for a long time,” said Jennifer Taylor, executive director of the nonpartisan Clean Energy Project.
States will have until 2018, an extra year, to submit a final plan to reduce emissions. The cuts will begin in 2022, which is two years later than the original deadline.
Some state officials who oppose the rule have said they are considering not submitting a plan at all to the EPA. Any state that doesn’t file a plan, or submits one that is unworkable under the federal rule, will be forced to use a federal model, McCabe said.
AP writers Jon Fahey in New York; Ken Ritter in Las Vegas; John Hanna in Topeka, Kansas; and Mead Gruver in Cheyenne, Wyoming, contributed to this report.