Missouri should have more time to reach carbon dioxide reduction targets called for in proposed federal rules, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said in comments on the regulations obtained by the Post-Dispatch.
Comments on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to regulate carbon dioxide emissions at power plants are due Dec. 1, and government agencies, advocacy groups and citizens have already submitted some 22,000 of them.
The submitted comments from Nixon, a Democrat, are some of the first utterances his administration has made about the controversial carbon rules. When they were first announced June 2, his office said only they would review them.
By contrast, outgoing Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in Illinois praised the proposed regulations soon after their release.
But the comments, signed Nov. 21 by Nixon, still take no strong position on the proposal. Instead, they offer more technical suggestions on implementation.
Like many industry groups, Nixon said he was concerned about “aggressive” 2020 interim carbon dioxide reduction targets.
“As presently proposed, the rules require that by 2020 Missouri achieve 62 percent of the 2030 emissions reduction goal, yet our state implementation plan would be approved no earlier than 2017,” according to Nixon’s comments.
The EPA’s proposal is the first time the federal government is seeking to regulate carbon emissions blamed for climate change. It calls on states to craft their own plans to cut carbon dioxide by dispatching more natural gas power, expanding efficiency programs, boosting renewables and shutting down coal plants or making them more efficient
In Missouri, the EPA figured the state can cut carbon emissions 21 percent from 2012 levels by 2030 cheap credit report. With the state’s reliance on carbon-heavy coal — 80 percent of Missouri’s electricity comes from it — the feds called for a smaller percentage cut than states less reliant on the black rock.
While Nixon didn’t dispute that the state could reach 21 percent reduction by 2030, the criticism of the interim targets was similar to the position taken by the state’s largest utility, Ameren Missouri.
Ameren has called for an implementation schedule that stretches to 2035 and warned the interim targets could require it to build a new natural gas plant just to meet the rules. Environmental groups argue the utility can meet the targets with a heavier emphasis on energy efficiency.
Ameren also wants credit for coal plant retirements that aren’t offset with cleaner energy sources. It plans to retire its Meramec coal plant in St. Louis County by 2022, but it has said it does not need to offset all of the 800-megawatt power plant with a new one because of stagnant load growth and energy efficiency programs.
Because of how the carbon reductions are calculated, the utility might not get credit for the closure unless it offsets it with new generation.
While Nixon didn’t ask for a longer overall deadline, he did say the rules should make sure the state gets credit for coal plant closures.
“In sum, Missourians expect and deserve affordable, reliant and abundant energy,” Nixon’s comments say. “… A one-size-fits-all approach will not work.”
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