Congress, EPA may have different power plans | CraigDailyPress.com

Congress, EPA may have different power plans

— After 2014 midterm elections, Republicans are in control of both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.

Many American voters may wonder if this means another legislative session filled with gridlock. Both Republicans and Democrats hope this is not the case, and plan to compromise throughout 2014's session.

This pledge to compromise extends to an issue highly contested in Moffat County, the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Clean Power Plan.

On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposed rule to its Clean Power Plan as a part of President Barack Obama's climate change goals.

The EPA's proposed rule requires existing power plans to cut carbon emissions beginning in 2020 and extending through 2029, through a "phase-in" approach, according to the text of the proposed rule on the Federal Register.

Since June and throughout his tenure, the president has continued to make reducing carbon emissions and expanding renewable energy a top priority for his remaining two years.

Recommended Stories For You

"By early next year, we will put forward our next emission target, reflecting our confidence in our technological entrepreneurs and scientific innovators to lead the way," Obama said at the United Nations Climate Summit on Sept. 23.

The EPA's proposed rule will be finalized by June 2015, and one year later, states are required to submit plans with strategies to meet the goals outlined in the rule.

Public comments on the proposed rule are due Dec. 1, 2014. To submit comments on the proposed rule, follow the directions at this link: http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/how-comment-clean-power-plan-proposed-rule.

In Colorado's 2014 election, Republican Rep. Cory Gardner's Senate win helped tip the power balance in the U.S. Congress from Democrat to Republican.

Republicans are traditionally known to oppose the EPA's Clean Power Plan, and Gardner has spoken out in favor of Northwest Colorado's coal-fired power plants and coalmines.

Colorado's newest senator plans to stand up for coal and assure it isn't left out of Clean Power Plan discussions.

"I think we have to make sure that clean coal technology is a vibrant part of our future and remains a vibrant part of western Colorado and we don’t short change our ability to produce extract and develop coal," Gardner said in an interview with the Craig Daily Press. "We have to find a solution with the EPA to make sure we don’t end up hurting our future in places like Craig, Colorado."

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a partial owner of Craig Station, is working on comments to submit by the EPA's deadline.

In addition, they have requested an additional 60 days "to reflect the unprecedented complexity of the proposal," according to Lee Boughey, spokesman for Tri-State.

Boughey said they've been working and analyzing the proposed rule over the last few months and are "formulating comments to the EPA that thoroughly reflect our numerous and serious concerns about the rule's potential impacts on our operations and the communities we call home, including Moffat County."

The EPA will consider Tri-State's comments, as well as the more than 1 million comments already received on the proposed rule, before making its decision in June 2015.

Despite the new congressional majority, EPA Press Secretary Liz Purchia said they are standing strong and following Obama's directive for action on climate change.

"A healthy environment for our children should garner bipartisan support, not be a political football," Purchia said.

She also said clean water and clean air are "essential building blocks for a strong economy. We don't have to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy, because the two go hand in hand."

Jo Ann Baxter, chair of Moffat County's Democratic Party, said she hopes the eventual solution will be "at least acceptable, if not pleasing, to both sides."

"I’m not sure that the new Congress is going to change the EPA’s mind about what they’re going to do," Baxter said. "And I’m not sure the EPA has made up its mind entirely, so I think everything is kind of on hold."

She also said local officials have done great work by giving the EPA information about how its decisions affect this community.

Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid continues that work and said he can't go into details right now but has made contact with Rep. Scott Tipton's office to have a committee or subcommittee meeting with local officials about the Clean Power Plan.

Contact Janelle O’Dea at 970-875-1795 or jodea@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @jayohday