Green Guide

Emissions compliance plan put on hold for North Dakota

Posted October 16

— It is unlikely North Dakota officials will develop a state compliance plan to meet federal emissions rules for at least a couple years, a state health department official told lawmakers Monday.

"There are few states that are in the predicament that we're in," David Glatt, head of the environmental section of the North Dakota Department of Health, told members of the interim Energy Development and Transmission Committee.

Glatt was referring to the Environmental Protection Agency's emissions rules for new and existing power plants and the stiff requirements it has for North Dakota.

The Bismarck Tribune reported ( ) that requirements in the original rule from June 2014 called for North Dakota to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 11 percent from 2012 levels by 2030; the final rule moved that target to 45 percent. The changes caught officials and industry off-guard and has drawn sharp criticism from industry, North Dakota's congressional delegation and state officials.

North Dakota is involved in lawsuits in federal court against the EPA over the rules for both new and existing plants; the state is arguing that the EPA has overstepped its authority in the Clean Air Act.

More than two dozen states as well as industry groups are opposed to the rules.

The U.S. Supreme Court halted implementation of the rules earlier this year until court challenges are completed.

"We're probably looking at . probably another two years," Glatt said of the legal process, adding that he believes some sort of reduced-carbon plan will ultimately be required.

Oral arguments on the rules were heard in federal court late last month, he said.

After the high court's decision to halt implementation earlier this year, the Department of Health ceased work on a state compliance plan.

"We'll have to scramble," Glatt said of developing a plan if the EPA wins in court.

If the EPA loses and an amended plan is required, the department will review its options and go from there.

"We're going to have a reduced carbon future. There's no use even arguing that anymore," Glatt said. "Coal will always be in the mix, but at a reduced level."

It was better to see how things play out in court rather than develop a plan that may have to be scrapped, Glatt said earlier this year.

He told the committee the state of North Dakota has reduced emissions by more than 11 percent from 2005 to 2014.


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