EPA extends comment period on Clean Power Plan | CraigDailyPress.com

EPA extends comment period on Clean Power Plan

Announcement comes less than a week after EPA visits Craig

Noelle Leavitt Riley

The Environmental Protection Agency has extended by 45 days the comment period for its proposal to limit power plant emissions. The deadline for comments now will be Dec. 1.

After receiving nearly 750,000 comments, the Environmental Protection Agency has decided to extend its deadline by 45 days for public comments on the Clean Power Plan concerning carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Northwest Colorado is home to two coal-fired power plants, Craig Station and Hayden Station.

"It's good news," said Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid, who worked for the Craig Station coal-fired power plant for 33 years. "The proposed regulations have a far-reaching impact, and I think we need to go slow on this. I'm glad the EPA has granted that 45-day extension."

The original deadline was Oct. 16, and it's now Dec. 1.

"Since last year, EPA has been following through on President Obama's directive to extensively engage with the broadest possible range of perspectives as we work to develop a plan to cut energy waste and leverage cleaner energy sources," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said at a press conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

In June, the Obama administration released its Clean Power Plan, outlining proposed emission rules for existing coal-fired power plants, giving the public 120 days to comment on the proposal.

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The EPA has been overwhelmed with information from all concerned parties.

"Since (June), we've met with hundreds of groups — including reaching out to all 50 states, held four public hearings across the country, with more than 2,700 people in attendance, received more than three-quarters of a million comments on the proposed plan," McCarthy said. "While we've heard quite a bit so far, we know that there are many individuals and groups continuing to work to formulate their input."

The proposed EPA plan would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by roughly 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

The EPA announcement comes less than a week after EPA Region 8 officials visited Moffat County and toured Tri-State Generation & Transmission's Craig Station.

EPA officials met with nearly 500 concerned Moffat County residents Sept. 10, listening to their fears about the proposed Clean Power Plan.

"Maybe our meeting with EPA last week helped influence this decision," Kinkaid said, highlighting that the comment period extension happened so closely to the EPA's visit to Northwest Colorado.

More public comment time is welcomed by Tri-State.

“As with the Region 8 administrator’s recent visit to Moffat County, any steps the EPA can take to gather more public input is certainly welcome,” Tri-State said in a statement released by Public Affairs Manager Drew Kramer. “The agency’s proposal is incredibly complex and could have far reaching and potentially devastating impacts on rural utilities and the communities they serve. As such, we hope the EPA listens not only for a longer period of time but even more closely to electricity consumers’ concerns.”

The EPA said Tuesday that public input is vital to decision making.

“We believe that public input is one of the most important parts of the rulemaking process and that the more we listen and engage — the more perspectives we hear — the better the Clean Power Plan — and all of our work — will be,” McCarthy said.

For the city of Craig, it’s always important to engage and be respectful of the process, Craig City Council member Ray Beck said.

“I think we need to continue to have hope and focus on the potential impact this might have on our community,” Beck said. “This is serious. This is an unfunded mandate. The EPA should give power plants credit for what they’ve already done.”

Contact Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com.