EPA has received 1.5 million comments about proposed carbon regulations

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Oct 30, 2014

WASHINGTON – Federal Environmental Protection Agency officials say they have received nearly 1.5 million public comments on the agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which aims to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fuel power plants.

Under the EPA’s proposal, new large natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour.

New coal-fired units would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, and would have the option to meet a somewhat tighter limit if they choose to average emissions over multiple years, giving those units additional operational flexibility.

In its proposal, the EPA has tasked West Virginia with a carbon emissions reduction target of 20 percent by 2030.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has said he is “very concerned” about the EPA’s carbon reduction plan, calling it “reckless.”

The state receives 95 percent of its electricity from coal.

“I’ve seen little from the White House or the EPA on what people in Boone, Marshall, Logan, Marion, Mingo, Monongalia and other counties around the state should do when their local coal mines have layoffs,” the attorney general said last year.

Now, in addition to those 1.5 million public comments and various meetings and conference calls, the EPA said Tuesday it is making additional information and ideas available for public comment in a notice of data availability, or NODA.

In issuing the NODA, the agency is “seeking to ensure that all interested parties are aware of the issues and ideas that have been consistently raised by a diverse group of stakeholders, so that everyone has the opportunity to consider them as they formulate their comments,” due on Dec. 1.

NODAs are commonly used to present additional information for the public to consider. They do not change a proposal, nor are they a complete summary of the wide variety of ideas that have been raised.

EPA officials, during their conference call Tuesday, said the notices allow the agency to continue seeking ideas and comments on these and many other issues “as the agency works toward a final rule that is flexible and empowers states to chart their own, customized path to meet goals for reducing harmful carbon pollution.”

A recent analysis by global economic consulting firm National Economic Research Associates Inc. projects “significant negative economic impacts” to West Virginia under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

Electricity rates could face a peak-year increase of 14 percent in the state, NERA found.

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