NC officials concerned about new EPA carbon emission rules

Posted June 3, 2014
Updated June 4, 2014

— North Carolina officials are still reviewing rules proposed Monday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent nationwide over the next 15 years, but they are concerned the state might be penalized for its previous efforts to clear the state's air.

The EPA estimates that North Carolina had the 18th-highest rate of carbon emissions nationwide in 2012, at 1,646 pounds per megawatt-hour. The agency has set a goal for the state to cut those emissions to 992 pounds per megawatt-hour by 2030.

Officials with the state Division of Air Quality hope the EPA uses 2005 for its baseline in determining carbon reductions, rather than 2012, agency spokesman Tom Mather said Tuesday.

State laws adopted since 2002 have cut emissions from power plants and required that more electricity be generated from renewable resources.

If the EPA sets the baseline at 2012, Mather said, "We basically wouldn't get any credit for all these emissions we've reduced here in North Carolina at great expense to not only utilities, but ratepayers."

The new federal rules could require a major change to the state's energy policy, he said. "The devil's in the details," he said.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources sued the EPA in December over the agency's revised standards for particulate emissions. DENR argued that North Carolina was being penalized for taking earlier action that wasn't recognized in new baselines the EPA used to determine needed reductions.

Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said the Charlotte-based utility has invested in new gas-fired power plants to replace coal-fired plants in recent years to meet tougher state standards, and the new EPA goal could translate into higher electric rates for consumers.

"We're looking at what the cost implications are for complying with these rules," Brooks said. "Any potential pressures from any aspect that requires us to retire a fuel source could have a cost implication for our customers."

Instead of cost and credit, environmental groups say the state needs to focus on long-term efficiency, solar and wind energy, and public health.

"It's a huge step for action on climate change and for clean energy, and I think it's a necessary step," said David Rogers, field director of Environment North Carolina. "It's the 21st century. We should be getting our energy from sources that don't pollute."


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  • jmcdow2792 Jun 5, 2014

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    Would it (18 ranking) have something to do with population?
    You can rest assured that any improvements made prior to these rules will not count. Never do. One big reason that folks don't like to do things without being required to.

  • I-Defy Jun 5, 2014

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    Koch Koch Koch! But you never say a word about all the people Soro's has bought. Do you even see your double standards anymore. What a joke you liberals are

  • Kevin O'Donnell Jun 4, 2014
    user avatar

    Make no mistake about who will pay for these new rules. Consumers, not Duke, will pay for these new rules. Duke will close coal plants, build gas plants, and rates will increase to cover all Duke's costs.

  • rocket Jun 4, 2014

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    100% budget cut is more like it.

  • rocket Jun 4, 2014

    North Carolina is a sovereign state. If they don't like the rules, they should just tell the EPA and the feds to go fly a kite.

  • Joseph Smith Jun 4, 2014
    user avatar

    EPA ripe for a 50% budget cut!!!!

  • Kenny Dunn Jun 4, 2014
    user avatar

    These changes cannot happen fast enough as far as I'm concerned. Although I do appreciate that they take time to implement.

  • Jun 4, 2014

    The right wing talking points mouthed by the puppets of Koch just can't help themselves. Drawn to the comments section like moths to a flame, well, more like flies to used food substances.

  • Jun 4, 2014

    Duke Power, I mean our State Legislature, are strictly opposed to anything that would limit the power of Duke, I mean our State, to pollute, I mean provide billions of jobs, and to raise rates, I mean generate even more massive profits, at the expense, I mean for the benefit, of our citizens.

  • frosty Jun 4, 2014

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    It will not just be electric bills. Gas generating plants compete with heating and manufacturing users the rising demand will increase costs for all if US production cannot keep up. This winter the weather caused an increased demand for gas that caused the price to go up. The energy companies were able to switch to diesel which caused supply issues and cost increases for diesel. Coal and nuclear does not compete with other energy users. Renewable is not reliable as a replacement system so don't start on that.