NC officials concerned about new EPA carbon emission rules

Posted June 3, 2014
Updated June 4, 2014

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— 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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  • Danny22 Jun 4, 2014

    Obama said our "energy costs would necessarily skyrocket." He has ruined just about everything in our country with his federal power grab.

  • ncprr1 Jun 4, 2014

    Obama's war on private business continues. No matter that there is no real science to back up the fairy tail, the liberals walk in lockstep trying to destroy the American economy. Some of them because they are evil, some because they are just too dumb to know any better.

  • 68_dodge_polara Jun 4, 2014

    Thought your electric bill is high now?

  • flyfish42 Jun 4, 2014

    NC officials are critical because they are planning to go in the exact opposite direction, cutting air quality monitoring and removing or loosening many existing regulations, ostensibly to be more "business friendly". They forget that business people have to breathe also.

  • Grand Union Jun 4, 2014

    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.

    Actually the rules will take into account good work done in the past......but not back to the year dot.

  • mike275132 Jun 4, 2014

    As Barack Hussein Obama told the SF Chronicle , see it on You Tube "Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." (January 2008).
    This is the plan of the Democrats .

    Remember this when you vote in Novemeber

  • Ernest Borgnine Jun 4, 2014
    user avatar

    They forget that business people have to breathe also.The business people that matter do not live here. Why should they care? Why should we care what Obama says anyway. He's only gonna be there for 959 more days till Rand Paul gets sworn in.

  • SusanandAaron Tambot-Blankenship Jun 4, 2014
    user avatar

    If NC has done so well self regulating then why is the state above the median for carbon discharge?

    18th highest does not sound like we've done a particulary good job compared to every other state.

    Also in this thread- crazy people who think we can continue with fossil fuels. Obama knows just like every other thinking person that we all have to make changes in how we generate or harvest electricity. It's going to cost to begin the infrastructure changes but it will be cost effective in the long run.

  • frosty Jun 4, 2014

    View quoted thread

    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.

  • 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.