INDIANAPOLIS — Republican Gov. Mike Pence vowed Monday to “vigorously” fight President Barack Obama’s recently finalized plan to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants across the U.S. over the next 15 years.
“Here in Indiana, homeowners and businesses rely on coal-burning power plants,” Pence said in a statement. “Yet little to no consideration was given to states like ours throughout the development of the EPA’s final rule and that is simply not acceptable.”
But whether the new rules amount to an unfair government mandate, as Pence maintains, or a sensible way to curtail emissions believed to contribute to global warming is subject to heated partisan debate.
After a preliminary version of the plan, called the Clean Power Plan, was released last year it drew fire from Pence and several other Republican governors who vowed not to comply with its requirements. Indiana is one of 16 states to face even more stringent targets in the final version than in the preliminary plan and Pence continued his criticism.
“If the final rule is not significantly improved, then Hoosiers can be assured that on behalf of families, businesses and other ratepayers, Indiana will not comply,” Pence said.
While Pence has been outspoken in his opposition, state environmental groups praised the new rules. They say a reduction in pollution will lead to improved air quality. And a reduction in emissions is important, they maintain, pointing to extreme weather across the country, which they say is a result of pollution-induced global warming.
“We’re a big part of the problem and we have a responsibility to do our part,” Jodi Perras, who advocates for energy solutions other than coal for The Sierra Club of Indiana, said.
One of the state’s largest energy providers indicated it was on the way toward compliance.
Lynn Good, CEO for Duke Energy, called the president’s plan “ambitious” in a statement. Good said the utility was heading toward compliance, but “even without federal regulations, our company has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from our power plants by 22 percent since 2005.”
Similarly, Indiana Michigan Power is complying with EPA emissions standards by retrofitting its Rockport Generation Plant along the Ohio River with $258 million in technology and Northern Indiana Public Service Co. is investing $739 million for scrubbers, which remove certain pollutants from smokestack emissions at two of its generating stations, including the one in Michigan City to be completed at the end of 2016.
States were notified last year of the emissions reduction targets that they must meet under the plan. The finalized rules released Monday require an additional 2 percent reduction in emissions, but also give states an additional two years to begin cutting emissions.
Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said that rapid changes in the renewable energy sector can make it easier for states to find ways to generate energy while reducing emissions.
But some industry groups believe the new rules could cost consumers. They also believe the EPA is overly optimistic about the ability of states to comply by the 2030 deadline.
Mark Maassel, president of the Indiana Energy Association, which represents the state’s investor-owned utilities, said the changes will ultimately result in higher energy bills. Calling the plan “a stretch,” he said the EPA shouldn’t assume states will realistically be able to reduce power plant emissions.
“We question a lot of the EPA assumptions that went into developing the emissions reductions,” Maassel said.
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- On August 7, 2015