CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The federal government proposed Monday that South Carolina cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by more than half by 2030, amid concerns it will increase the cost of power and hurt the economy.
State-owned utility Santee Cooper has cut emissions 23 percent during the past decade using the steps the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing, said spokeswoman Mollie Gore. The EPA announced targets for all states as part of an Obama administration effort to reduce emissions.
"Frankly we're a little surprised," Gore said, adding that the percentage reduction is greater than those proposed for 47 other states. "In particular we are one of two states in the country that is moving forward on nuclear power."
South Carolina's 2012 carbon emission rate was almost 1,600 pounds per megawatt hour of energy produced. The new goal is just over 770 pounds.
"I'm deeply concerned it will carry a tremendous cost to our state, our economy, and our families through significantly higher energy bills," said Attorney General Alan Wilson.
The federal plan, expected to be finalized next year after public hearings around the nation, would reduce carbon emissions nationwide by 30 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.
Once the rule is finalized, South Carolina will create it emissions reduction plan, said Jim Beasley, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
"This state plan will be developed with public input, and it will ensure any federal requirements are achieved in a manner that ensures energy reliability and affordability," he said.