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Put in Your "Two Cents" on Clean Power

PHOTO: The EPA holds public hearings this week on its proposed tougher carbon emission standards - a controversial proposal in this coal-producing region. Photo courtesy of the Sierra Club.
PHOTO: The EPA holds public hearings this week on its proposed tougher carbon emission standards - a controversial proposal in this coal-producing region. Photo courtesy of the Sierra Club.
July 28, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Environmental Protection Agency is taking public comments on proposed emissions standards that would cut carbon pollution in the power sector by 30 percent compared with 2005 levels.

The new rules, which the EPA introduced June 2, are controversial in West Virginia, one of the top coal-producing states in the nation. Former EPA administrator Carol Browner said a series of public hearings on the rule will be a good chance for folks to tell the agency what they think.

"The good news," she said, "is that EPA wants to hear from people about how best to go ahead and actually do the work of reducing dangerous pollution."

The coal industry and its allies have said the rules will devastate the region's economy. But Attica Scott, a city council member in Louisville, Ky., said the issue has become so politicized that, in her view, people are "missing the point."

"We're not fighting coal; we're not going to battle against coal," she said. "This is to create healthier communities and, in fact, through that to create more green jobs."

The EPA proposal sets a target for each state, and it's up to the states to figure out how to meet their goal. Browner said a lot of flexibility is built in.

"One state may want to do more renewables; another state may want to optimize their natural gas plants," she said. "But the point being that each state can decide what's really best for them."

The hearings in Pittsburgh will be on Thursday and Friday at the Moorhead Federal Building. The EPA hearing schedule and the Clean Power Plan proposal are online.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV