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EPA asks Alaska to cut carbon emissions 26 percent

Posted: June 3, 2014 - 12:01am

ANCHORAGE — Alaska state officials will study a federal plan to lower carbon pollutant emissions before weighing in on its effects, according to a Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner spokesman.

The Obama administration on Monday unveiled an initiative aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels.

Emissions cuts vary by state. In Alaska, the plan calls for a cut of carbon pollutants by nearly 26 percent over the next 15 years.

The draft rule is more than 600 pages long, and it’s accompanied by nearly 400 pages of regulatory analysis, according to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Spokesman Ty Keltner said Department of Environmental Conservation Larry Hartig would take a few days to review the plan.

“It’s really too soon to make any comments on this,” Keltner said. “The department and the state just got this plan like everybody else did and the commissioner and the Division of Air Quality is going to need some time to look at it to figure out what this means for Alaska.”

Alaska generates 10 percent of its electricity from coal plants. The largest source of power, natural gas, accounts for 52 percent of Alaska’s electricity and could generate more if a gas pipeline is built to Fairbanks and southcentral Alaska communities. Hydropower generates 23 percent of Alaska’s electricity and diesel fuel generates 15 percent.

Across the nation, coal represents 40 percent of electricity generation. Natural gas makes up 26 percent. Renewables, not counting hydropower, make up about 5.7 percent.

According to the Energy Information Administration, Alaska in 2012 emitted 1.96 million metric tons in 2012 at a rate of 1,351 pounds per megawatt hour. The 2030 goal is to cut that to 1,003 pounds per megawatt hour.

Cutting emissions will fight climate change and protect the public health, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Murkowski in a statement criticized the proposal.

“Despite negative economic growth last quarter, and despite far better approaches pending in Congress to promote energy efficiency and energy innovation, the president has decided to push ahead and propose a sweeping new regulation on our still-weak economy,” she said.

EPA regulations will come at a high cost and harm the affordability and reliability of energy, she said.

President Barack Obama, however, says the plan will not harm the economy.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said the plan will affect the handful of coal plants in Alaska’s Railbelt, the region from Seward to Fairbanks along Alaska Railroad lines. He will closely monitor the measure, he said.

“We must protect consumers along the way,” he said.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, called the plan an “economy killer.”

“These policies, which specifically target fossil fuel-based electricity generation, will seriously jeopardize the stability of a critical power source in the United States,” he said in a statement.

In a conference call with public health leaders, Obama disputed that the plan will kill jobs, drive up power bills and crush regional economies.

“What we’ve seen every time is that these claims are debunked when you actually give workers and businesses the tools and the incentives they need to innovate,” Obama said.

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Brad Fluetsch
Brad Fluetsch 06/03/14 - 07:01 am
Alaska emissions are going to rise

Alaska is a young state with most of its growth in the future, it is absolutely an absurd assumption that emissions would shrink given the potential growth of the economy and population.

President Obama says lots of things, very few if any are accurate or true.... "you can keep your doctor, insurance plan, I will close Gitmo" this is far to lengthy to post.

Ted File
Ted File 06/03/14 - 08:10 am
Don't make this a political

Don't make this a political or economic issue we do not have the time. Lisa, Don and Mark if you three can't get on board then step aside. Clean air and water is a basic requirement for all life here on earth.

Youth, this is about your child's future, you need to make sure you get out and vote for your kids sake. These three Representatives are not worth the pot they [filtered word] in. They are protecting the wrong people.

Steven Rosales
Steven Rosales 06/03/14 - 08:22 am

nor is Obama. They want to protect the enviroment start talking to countries like China, Mexico, and Brazil! We do a better job than the rest of the world combined.

Haily George
Haily George 06/03/14 - 10:02 am
Ted -

Ted -
How is Mark Begich's comment not promising? He said, “We must protect consumers along the way”. Coal provides cheap fuel but it has to go. Coal is where acid rain comes from. Our state should assist in transitioning these coal plants to solar or to what works there. Don Young, good lord... no member of Congress should ever treat the public in this manner.
Cut and past and see Don Young in action: (look for heading: RUDE CONGRESS: Rep. Don Young & Rep. Doc Hastings | Energy)
oh and then there is the: Don Young Uses 'Wetbacks' To Describe Latinos (AUDIO) you will see it.

Mark Begich has my vote.

Lisa Murkowski - thumbs down... way way down

Bill Knabke
Bill Knabke 06/03/14 - 10:29 am
What Haily said

Coal is so cheap in Alaska, but just about everyone knows that it's very polluting. No local politician wants to ruffle the feathers of the coal industry, or suggest raising the price of electricity, so it's an appropriate task for the feds to tackle.

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