CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Gov. Matt Mead said Monday he will "fight for coal" if he has to amid proposed new regulations that would cut greenhouse emissions from power plants.
Meanwhile, Wyoming U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis and Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency measures as unreasonable and costly.
"It's essentially an energy tax. The last thing we should be doing in this economy when so many Americans are out of work is make the bare essentials more expensive," Enzi said.
EPA officials said the rules would result in less expensive electricity by boosting efficiency and reducing demand for electricity. The rules also would yield significant public health benefits by cutting other forms of pollution, according to the EPA.
The regulations would require a 30 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. electricity generation, compared to 2005 emissions, by 2030. Wyoming, under the rules, would need to reduce emissions by 19 percent from 2012 levels.
That could hit Wyoming harder than most other states. Coal-fired power plants produce a huge share of the gas blamed for global climate change and Wyoming produces far more coal than any other state, close to 40 percent of the U.S. total.
The coal industry provides nearly $1 billion in revenue to the state government every year.
The rules are coming down even though carbon-capture techniques have shown promise and utilities have proved they can drastically reduce other types of pollution from coal-fired power, said Jonathan Downing, executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association.
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