Eventually, North Carolina will have to comply with some version of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon emissions rule, whether it likes or not (it does not).
The rule, which is expected to be released during the first week of August, will be the first ever limit to carbon pollution by requiring states to comply with carbon emission standards, under the federal Clean Air Act. In North Carolina, the goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent.
An April bill in the state House instructed the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) to create a process to bring together the energy industry, state entities, experts and other stakeholders to figure out the best way for North Carolina to meet the EPA goals.
But today in committee, Sen. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford (who is clearly drunk, needs to go home) introduced a Proposed Committee Substitute to the bill. The PCS would legally prohibit DENR, the EMC and other state agencies from developing or implementing a state or federal plan to comply with the EPA’s clean power plan, until all the lawsuits that will inevitably follow the implementation of the rule are settled, or until July, 2016 (whichever is later).
The PCS passed the Senate’s committee on Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Wednesday, and now heads to the Senate floor.
“The Senate plan is an open invitation to the EPA to impose a federal plan on North Carolina, instead of our state having a plan we develop for ourselves,” said Dustin Chicurel-Bayard, the communications director for the NC Sierra Club. “We are seeing just ideological opposition to the EPA’s authority to limit carbon emissions.”
In other words, if North Carolina doesn’t put together a compliance plan, or if there’s not a satisfactory plan, the EPA can impose a federal implementation plan upon the state. Sen. Wade has not yet responded to INDY Week’s request for comment.
Most other states—including those which also oppose the carbon rule, like South Carolina and Georgia—are already working on a compliance plan, in the case that their court challenges to the rule are unsuccessful.
And in North Carolina, conversations around developing a compliance plan already started this year.
At a forum hosted by N.C. State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues in Raleigh last month “there was a general presentation about the EPA’s proposed rule to produce clean power plan for each state, and general discussions in regards to implications for the Carolinas,” says David Doctor, President and CEO of E4 Carolinas, a trade association for energy companies and supply chain members in the Carolinas.
Present at the forum were stakeholders like the Duke University Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy, Duke Energy (an E4 member), and even DENR Secretary Donald van der Vaart.
But Chicurel-Bayard says there has already been a lack of leadership from DENR and the Governor to engage the public on the carbon rule, despite a clear expectation from stakeholders that a compliance plan start to come together. “There’s enough interest that DENR would have no problem getting input from the industry and businesses, but this bill would prohibit it from doing that,” he says.