COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency promoted proposed clean power plant rules to Western governors Tuesday, framing the plan as a way to deal with destructive wildfires and floods that have ravaged the region in recent years.
“There are some states that are really feeling some of the brunt of the changing climate most dramatically with wildfires and floods and droughts and all of those challenges,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Tuesday after a two-hour meeting with 10 governors in Colorado Springs where the annual Western Governors’ Association conference is happening.
The plan has been met with reluctance — and skepticism — from some governors.
McCarthy emphasized that states will have flexibility in developing plans to reduce carbon output. But she acknowledged that some governors whose states depend heavily on coal expressed concern about the new rules.
The EPA rules announced last week set a goal of cutting emissions of the greenhouse gas by 30 percent nationwide from 2005 levels. The goal’s deadline is 2030.
She said the biggest concern from governors is that the EPA doesn’t “treat every state as if they’re the same.”
“Even out West, they’re different. Some are very much coal-dependent, while others are very much advancing renewables in a strong way,” she said.
Some governors have blamed increasingly destructive fires on climate change, including Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Wildfires in Colorado have destroyed hundreds of homes the past two years, and in the fall, flooding caused record damage in several parts of the state.
Still, other governors in the region, like Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, have decried what they call the administration’s job-killing war on coal.
“I don’t think the question really is how is it going to affect Wyoming. I think the question is how it’s going to affect the country,” Mead said, noting how his state produces large amounts of coal that the rest of the nation uses.
McCarthy said the new regulations aren’t “the end-all be-all,” but that she hopes it changes companies’ strategies on energy development.
“It’s not going to get us where we need to go in terms of addressing climate to the extent that science demands. But it is going to send investment signals,” she said.
In addition to Hickenlooper and Mead, the governors attending the annual WGA conference in Colorado are: Jan Brewer of Arizona, C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, Gary Herbert of Utah, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, and Steve Bullock of Montana.
The conference concludes Wednesday.
Western governors’ views on proposed EPA rules
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Ten western governors met Tuesday with Gina McCarthy, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, to talk about cleaner power plant rules proposed by the Obama administration — including cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from coal. A sampling of what some governors have to say about it:
ARIZONA: GOP Gov. Jan Brewer objects to the EPA plan and believes the agency has overstepped its authority, her spokesman has said. Arizona state lawmakers passed a law in 2010 that bars new state rules or regional agreements to reduce greenhouse gases unless the Legislature approves. It’s unclear how the EPA proposal will play out in Arizona.
COLORADO: Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper said it was “refreshing” that McCarthy has been looking for input from governors on the EPA proposal. He noted that Colorado is moving to diversify its energy portfolio into an “all-of-the-above” approach. On climate change, he said, “I do think that climate change is being caused by mankind’s activity.”
KANSAS: Republican Gov. Sam Brownback was blunt in his assessment when the rules were announced. “This is more of the Obama administration’s war against middle America,” he said. Kansas relies on coal-fired plants for about 63 percent of the state’s electricity.
MONTANA: Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock said he believes coal is an important energy source for Montana (a coal producer) and the country. However, Bullock said: “In Montana, whether you’re a farmer, whether you’re a fisherman … you know that the climate is changing and we need to do something about it.”
NEVADA: Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval praised McCarthy for communicating with him before and after the rules were announced. While Sandoval said his administration is still reviewing the plan, he noted that Nevada already is decreasing its reliance on coal, citing legislation he signed that will close a couple of coal plants and replace them with renewable energy sources. “We felt like we were ahead of the curve on this,” he said.
SOUTH DAKOTA: GOP Gov. Dennis Daugaard has said he is concerned that the rules will raise energy prices — a worry other governors share. Daugaard wants a clearer understanding of how involved the federal government will be in formulating state plans to reduce emissions.
WYOMING: Republican Gov. Matt Mead says he is skeptical about man-made climate change. He’s reserved judgment on the EPA plan until his coal-producing state has studied it. Mead has said he will “fight for coal” if the regulations aren’t reasonable.
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