30 April 2015

EPA Considers Dropping Alaska from Controversial Power Plant Regulations

WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency is considering excusing Alaska from its climate change regulation of power plants, the agency chief told Sen. Lisa Murkowski Wednesday.

Murkowski, a Republican, pressed EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on the climate rule and several upcoming regulations from her post as chairman of a Senate appropriations subcommittee, where McCarthy testified.

The EPA released a draft rule last summer that required states to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in an effort to reduce one of the main greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. After reviewing millions of public comments, the agency plans to issue a final regulation by mid-summer.

The draft rule would require Alaska to cut its power plant carbon dioxide emissions 26 percent from 2012 levels by 2030 -- a cut Murkowski said is too steep given the state’s circumstances.
There is no electrical grid connecting Alaska with the Lower 48 and costs of cutting carbon could run high, according to the Alaska Power Association and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

The rule applies to five power plants in the state, largely clustered in the Anchorage area and the Railbelt. Four are powered by natural gas and one by high-carbon coal. “So when you’re talking about how we’re going to get to that 26 percent reduction, there’s not a lot of give,” Murkowski said.

McCarthy acknowledged that “we find ourselves often talking about the uniqueness of Alaska. This is another instance in which that is again the case.”

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