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Ohio bill would limit impact of new pollution rule

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 2, 2014 at 4:03 pm •  Published: June 2, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Supporters of sweeping new federal plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants said Monday that it could be more difficult — though not impossible — for Ohio to achieve its target reductions if state lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich follow through with their plans on two energy-related bills.

Ohio legislators are expected to act quickly this week on a bill that tries to limit the impact of the federal proposal, which would cut total carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by almost a third by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. States may get several years to submit plans to cut pollution under the rule, which is a key part of President Barack Obama's plans to reduce pollution linked to global warming.

An Ohio bill whose sponsor cites bipartisan support would require that any power-plant performance plan Ohio submits to the federal government protect the affordability and reliability of electricity and minimize effects on industrial, commercial and residential consumers. A committee of lawmakers is scheduled to vote on the measure Tuesday, and it is likely to be considered by the full House soon thereafter.

"It's kind of a delicate dance because the Ohio EPA has to reconcile itself to what the federal EPA is doing," said the bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Andy Thompson of Marietta. "But within that context, we just want to make sure that Ohio asserts the control that we can."

Thompson said it is destructive to the Appalachian communities he represents in eastern Ohio every time a coal-fired power plant shuts down because the area remains heavily dependent on coal jobs.

The federal proposal calls for Ohio, which gets two-thirds of its electricity from coal, to reduce pollution by 28 percent compared with 2012 levels.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler said the agency needs to fully understand what that means.

"We are, of course, concerned with anything that could hurt Ohio's economy at a time when we are just beginning to get back on track," Butler said in a statement.

Kasich's spokesman didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

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