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Science and Environment

Clean Power Plan Stay Has Little Impact On Coal Companies...For Now

Coal_Power_Plant.jpg
Alan Berning
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/14617207@N00/2621375759

Coal industry representatives in Indiana, one of the nation’s top coal-producing states, say the Supreme Court’s stay of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan has little immediate effect on the state.

By many accounts, utility companies haven’t been scrambling to comply with the proposed regulations, which would require Indiana to create a plan to reduce its carbon emissions by more than one-third over 15 years.

The stay lets states off the hook until the Supreme Court has its say on the plan.

“I’m not aware of plants who have made actual changes to date, but certainly all utilities have been following this very closely and considering what they might ultimately have to do,” says Bruce Stevens, President of the Indiana Coal Council.

Brian Bergsma, spokesman for utility company Indiana Michigan Power, says the stay doesn’t affect his company’s current strategy much, because IMP has already started reducing carbon emissions.

“We continue moving forward with the carbon dioxide emissions we already have planned,” Bergsma says. "I think you'll see more of that from the utility industry going forward, regardless of what happens with the Clean Power Plan."

Courtney Arango, Communications Director for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management says when it comes to the state's preparation of its own plan, IDEM was only in the planning stage--talking with stakeholders and power companies. 

"Did it put a dent in our plans?" she asks. "No. All we've done so far is have meetings with stakeholders." 

She says that will continue, regardless of the stay. 

"We don't want to not be prepared...if we have to proceed," she says. 

Jim Barnes, a former general counsel for the EPA, says the stay doesn’t look good for those backing the plan, which would require Indiana power plants to significantly cut their carbon emissions.

“Normally you can’t get a stay unless you have some reasonable prospect that you’re going to prevail on the merits," Barnes says.

Barnes says other less coal-dependent states are moving to make more use of wind and solar power. But, he says without the EPA forcing the state’s hand, he’s worried Indiana may lag when it comes to creating renewable energy infrastructure.

The hold is in effect until the Supreme Court takes a look at the regulations, which are scheduled to be argued in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in June.

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