A state plan to comply with federal rules for controlling carbon emissions is now out for public comment, but the proposed rules leave out key points the feds had asked states to address.
That’s because North Carolina, along with 23 other states, joined a lawsuit challenging portions of the Environmental Protection Agency rules that would restructure how energy is generated and consumed in the United States. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality — formerly known as the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality — believes those rules are outside the authority the Clean Air Act grants. Therefore, DEQ’s proposed rules address only its plan to make the state’s electricity generating units more effective. That’s the only component of the federal carbon rule the DEQ believes to be legal under the Clean Air Act.
“The proposed rule will have very little, if any, environmental benefit and many of the provisions regarding carbon capture and storage are overstated,” said DEQ Secretary Donald van der Vaart of the disputed portion of the federal rules. “This rule will not achieve significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and relies on unproven technology that could be technically and economically impractical.”
Environmental groups, however, have decried the state’s plan as an ineffective document that is “designed to fail,” in the words of Gundrun Thompson, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center.
“It is disappointing to see the Department of Environmental Quality once again putting politics before pollution cleanup,” Thompson said, adding, “Instead of using the Clean Power Plan as a political football, DEQ should take advantage of the Clean Power Plan’s flexibility to design a plan that could continue boosting North Carolina’s clean energy economy.”
The DEQ is working on a backup plan in addition to the one now out for public comment. If the lawsuit is unsuccessful, it will refer to this plan.
The comment period will extend through Jan. 15, with public hearings planned for Charlotte, Raleigh and Wilmington. Written comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org with “111(d)” in the subject line or sent to Joelle Burleson, Re: 111(d); Division of Air Quality; 1641 Mail Service Center; Raleigh, N.C., 27699-1641.