ATLANTA (AP) — The Obama administration's plan to reduce carbon emissions is likely to cause Georgia to evaluate its current energy supply but also could factor into two of the state's biggest political races this year.
So far, Democrat Michelle Nunn is keeping her distance from the plan, offering a wait-and-see approach while underscoring the need to reduce carbon emissions as she campaigns for the state's open Senate seat. Both Republicans in the Senate race have denounced the plan, saying the regulations are too burdensome.
Nunn said in an interview the plan needs further review to determine the effects on Georgia. She also said she wants to make sure the state gets credit for efforts already made to reduce emissions before she will support it. It's another example of Nunn stopping short of embracing key Obama priorities as she looks to woo independent voters. She's also questioned some aspects of the Affordable Care Act and urged support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
"There has been a significant amount of work done by Georgia Power and the state of Georgia around ensuring that we are transitioning to cleaner energy and more renewable resources," Nunn said. "In the coming weeks, we'll have a better sense of what the actual circumstances will be as it relates to the regulations and requirements."
Meanwhile, Republicans blasted the administration's policy as an approach that will only escalate energy costs for hard-working Americans. And the state GOP continues to make the argument Nunn, if elected, would be a loyal ally of President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
"She is a staunch supporter of President Obama and Harry Reid's efforts to enact job-killing energy policies that will put more Georgians in the unemployment line and drive up energy prices for middle-class families," said Leslie Shedd with Georgia Victory, a division of the state GOP.
Statistics show Georgia relies on coal to produce just under a third of the state's electricity, although that will change when two new nuclear reactors under construction become operational in a few years.
Under guidelines issued June 2, Georgia would need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 44 percent by 2030. Federal officials said Georgia will have flexibility in determining how to reach that mark. It could work with other states to set up programs that cap the amount of emissions but allow power companies to trade emissions permits with each other. The Georgia target is on the higher end of a proposal that seeks a reduction of 30 percent nationwide by 2030.
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