Friday, April 29, 2016

NJ: No intent to comply with federal Clean Power Plan

Proponents of EPA policy say state is risking chance that feds will step in and draft regulations to ensure compliance

Tom Johnson
reports today in NJ Spotlight:

"There is no chance the Christie administration will draft a proposal to comply with the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan to sharply curb global-warming emissions from power plants, officials said yesterday."

“It’s not in our DNA,’’ said John Giordano, an assistant commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection said yesterday at a break in a hearing called by an advisory council to solicit information on how New Jersey will implement the plan. “We don’t need EPA’s re-engineering.’’

New Jersey is making great strides in cleaning up its air and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, Giordano said, an argument echoed by Board of Public Utilities President Richard Mroz. He called the CPP, as it has been dubbed, an unconstitutional intrusion by the federal government on state rights.

While acknowledging that staff from both agencies are looking at what options are available to comply with the law, Mroz noted “there is no specific effort to draw up a compliance plan.’’

The Christie administration has joined in a lawsuit with 27 other states seeking to block the plan, a step the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily ordered in a narrowly approved ruling this past February. The state contends the plan fails to credit New Jersey for past actions that have already cut carbon pollution from power plants, as well as the more than $4 billion ratepayers have invested in renewable energy and reducing energy use.

New Jersey has the fifth-lowest carbon-dioxide emissions, a primary greenhouse gas, of power plants in the country, officials said. That is a reflection of how electricity is generated here with nearly half the power coming from nuclear plants and more than 40 percent from natural gas plants, which pollute less than coal-fired units.

The stance taken by the state is risky, according to proponents of the government plan, because if no proposal is submitted, the federal agency will step in and decide what regulatory steps are needed to achieve compliance with the law. That could lead to more costly strategies to consumers to comply with the plan, according to business interests.

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