BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana could have its own, less stringent plan for implementing the Environmental Protection Agency's limits on carbon dioxide emissions, under a proposal that got the approval Tuesday of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.
The measure by the committee's chairman, Sen. Mike Walsworth, would let the state Department of Environmental Quality decide how to apply EPA's upcoming rule on carbon dioxide emissions by setting standards for measuring emissions and the pace for following EPA's regulations.
The EPA plans to release new regulations by June to curb carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants as part of President Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan. The agency released carbon dioxide emission limits for new power plants last year. The plan seeks to reduce carbon dioxide pollution.
Walsworth, R-West Monroe, said his bill would dictate how Louisiana achieves the result the EPA wants by giving the state agency flexibility with the federal guidelines. Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, cited the U.S. Constitution in arguing that states should have final regulatory authority.
The measure was supported by the coal industry, whose representatives argued the bill would manage the rise in cost for coal-powered energy that they say the new EPA rules will cause.
According to Brian Bond, of the Southwestern Electric Power Company, a rise in cost for coal would especially hurt the poor since many impoverished areas depend on coal. Bond was one of three coal industry representatives who testified for the proposal.
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