Michigan officials say they’ll study Obama climate plan

Michigan officials reacted cautiously Monday to the Obama administration’s plan for cutting planet-warming gases from power plants, saying they needed time to study how it would affect the state’s economy and electricity rates.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking a 32 percent reduction in carbon dioxide from power plants by 2030. In Michigan, that would mean a cut from the nearly 70 million tons it generated in 2012 to 47.5 million tons over the next 15 years.

Each state would devise its own blueprint for achieving the required reductions. Many would have to burn less coal, the primary source of carbon dioxide from power generation. Michigan gets 49 percent of its electricity from coal, 26 percent from nuclear plants and 20 percent from natural gas.

EPA last year gave states preliminary emission reduction targets. The final rule, known as the Clean Power Plan, calls for slightly bigger cutbacks but gives the states two more years to begin achieving them.

Some Republican state attorneys general have pledged to file lawsuits against the federal regulation, while many states led by Republican governors have said they’d refuse to comply.

Officials in Michigan, also firmly under GOP control, were noncommittal. Valerie Brader, executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, said her office and others would review the EPA rule.

If they conclude there is “a reasonable path to compliance,” they will let advocacy groups and the public help craft a strategy for meeting Michigan’s requirements, Brader said. Spokesman Judy Palnau said it was too early to say what would happen if the study determined compliance wasn’t feasible.

A spokeswoman for Shuette said he hadn’t decided whether to fight the rule in court, although he labeled it “another executive action taken by President Obama and the EPA that violates the Clean Air Act and causes the price of electricity to increase.”

Schuette earlier led a multi-state lawsuit against a separate EPA rule on mercury emissions from power plants. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the agency had failed to conduct an adequate cost analysis.

Environmental groups and renewable energy providers praised the EPA carbon dioxide regulation.

“Michigan can comply with the requirements of the Clean Power Plan with almost no impact to ratepayers,” said Douglas Jester of 5 Lakes Energy, a consulting firm.

Consumers Energy, which serves 6.6 million business and residential customers in Michigan, is “favorably positioned to meet the carbon emissions targets,” spokesman Dan Bishop said.

The utility is retiring its seven oldest coal plants next year, representing 30 percent of its coal fleet.  (AP)

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