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Monday, June 2, 2014 - 12:23pm

New EPA Emissions Rules Met With Resistance And Praise In Georgia

New Environmental Protection Agency rules for carbon emission reductions for the nations’ power plants met alternately with official resistance or silence in Georgia Monday.

The proposed rules call for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by the year 2030. Rather than being set from a universal baseline for all states, EPA officials say they came up with state by state goals by looking at present state emission levels and imagining what they call a “reasonable application” of technology could produce.

Agency officials said the decision on which technologies to use was up to each state to decide on its own.

Stan Wise, who represents district five of the Georgia Public Service Commission, home to Georgia Power’s coal-fired Plant Scherer, disagrees that states are given a choice at all.

“Ultimately, the only way to do it is to close more coal plants, to increase the controls on the plant or not utilize those very effective plants we still have in place,” Wise said.

Wise went on to say that any other solution, from renewable energy to carbon sequestration, would only raise energy costs for consumers and jeopardize the economic well being of the state.

At the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, officials wanted to wait to read the entire EPA document before weighing in on what path might be best for the state. The EPA didn’t release the entire document to relevant agencies before making it public Monday.

Environmental activists in the region praised the rules. Stephen A. Smith from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy called the emissions goal important for a region with a vast, low lying coastline that is already experiencing a rise in sea levels.

“We welcome this new federal safeguard that will set limits on carbon pollution for our region as a whole in order to spur the kind of innovation that will power America with clean energy in the 21st century," Smith said in a press release.

The rules are open for 120 days of public comment. Georgia residents will also have the chance to speak about the rules at a public forum in Atlanta, one of only four such forums to be held nationwide.