Connecticut has a lead in meeting new EPA carbon emissions rule, Malloy says

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Attorney General George Jepsen and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee applauded the Clean Power Plan released Monday by President Obama and Environmental Protection Administrator Gina McCarthy, saying the measure is a much-needed step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change.

The rule, which will regulate carbon pollution from existing electric power plants, was released by the EPA under the Clean Air Act as a result of a 2006 Supreme Court decision. In that case, 12 states, including Connecticut, sued the EPA to force the federal agency to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as pollutants.

Klee said his office is reviewing the final rule to develop a compliance plan for Connecticut.

“From what we know about the plan so far,” he said, “we are pleased to hear that the rule not only maintains but improves the stringency of carbon reduction targets and that it incorporates opportunities for more cost-effective reductions, especially in states that have not yet taken significant action to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Klee said he is confident that Connecticut can comply in a manner “that protects ratepayers and continues to build our economy for a sustainable and prosperous future.”

The rule is expected to have the greatest impact on coal-fired power plants. DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain said the state has only one remaining coal-fired plant: the Bridgeport Harbor Station. It is used as a backup power supply mainly during times of peak demand in the winter, he said. Many of the state’s other power plants have converted to cleaner-burning natural gas, he said. Improvements in energy efficiency and the addition of renewable energy sources have also reduced the state’s carbon emissions.

Klee also cited Connecticut's participation with eight other states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as a “flexible, market-based solution” other states should adopt under the EPA rule to cut emissions from power plants in a cost-effective way. Under the RGGI program, carbon emissions from power plants in Connecticut have declined 34 percent from 1990 to 2012, and sale of emissions credits has generated $137 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, Klee said.

"This is about our future," Malloy said in a news release. "In Connecticut, we have already implemented a forward-thinking vision, reducing carbon pollution by more than 10 percent from 1990 levels. The air we breathe is cleaner than it has been in decades as we build an advanced energy economy that delivers good-paying jobs."

Malloy said the state is advancing toward an ambitious goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent below 2001 levels by 2050.

Jepsen said his office is reviewing the EPA plan, but is confident that the commitment already demonstrated by Connecticut to reducing carbon emissions puts it ahead of many other states in coming into compliance with the new rule.

“The new rules set reasonable limits on emissions of climate change pollution from new and existing power plants and are firmly grounded in law,” Jepsen said. “My office stands ready to support and assist the EPA throughout the implementation of the plan, including in any legal challenges that may be filed in the court.”

For information on Connecticut's efforts at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, visit DEEP's online fact sheet.

j.benson@theday.com

Twitter: @BensonJudy

 

 

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