UPDATE: EPA to require 30% cut in power plant carbon emissions b - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: EPA to require 30% cut in power plant carbon emissions by 2030

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MADISON (WKOW) -- President Obama has authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require U.S. power plants to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent of their 2005 levels, by the year 2030.

The EPA released the Clean Power Plan on Monday, calling it an "unprecedented outreach effort" to cut the "single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States."

Power plants are responsible for roughly one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

"By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids.  We don't have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Wisconsin has 11 coal-fired power plants.  Alliant Energy's Columbia County plant is the largest single producer of carbon emissions in the state at nearly eight million tons per year.

The plant has already spent $627 million to install air scrubbers aimed at reducing the amount of mercury and other emissions.  But the new rules set forth by the EPA likely means Alliant and its partners, which includes Madison Gas and Electric, will have to spend even more to drop carbon levels as well.
   
"We have to keep in mind that there's already a lot of environmental rules that have been implemented in the past few years and then this is another one and that adds to cost if you have to do everything quicker," said Scott Reigstad, a Spokesperson for Alliant Energy.

Environmentalists say the new rules should actually give the utilities both plenty of time and options.

"The way that EPA proposed these carbon limits is so incredibly flexible and is drawn out over such a long timeframe, 15 years," said Keith Reopelle, Policy Director at Clean Wisconsin. 

But lobbyists for industrial manufacturers say the new rules will damage the state's economy.

"From what we've seen, the five-state region where Wisconsin is located, we're anticipating to see the loss of over 31,000 manufacturing jobs a year," said Scott Manley, Vice-President of Government Relations with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

WMC bases that on increased cost projections from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
   
"Ultimately its going to mean higher electricity prices and the number one user, or consumer of electricity, in our state is the industrial class of ratepayers," said Manley.

Alliant Energy officials say its too soon to say how the rules will affect rates.  But Keith Reopelle said the sky is not falling and the new measures will likely lead to more robust energy efficiency initiatives and conservation programs from the utilities.

"And those programs will actually lower bills for energy customers," said Reopelle.

Since the EPA's goal is to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by an average of 30 percent nationwide, some states with already lowered emissions will likely allow higher-emission states like Wisconsin to be above that average. 

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MADISON (WKOW) -- President Obama has authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require all U.S. power plants to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent of their 2005 levels, by the year 2030.

The EPA released the Clean Power Plan on Monday, calling it an "unprecedented outreach effort" to cut the "single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States."

Power plants are responsible for roughly one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

"By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids.  We don't have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

While the plan is being praised by environmentalists, business groups are criticizing President Obama for skirting Congress to accomplish his goal.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann is speaking to representatives on both sides of this debate and will have more on 27 News at 5 and 6.

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