South Carolina would be required to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 under a new federal rule, and the state Department of Health and Environmental Control will be in the Upstate on Nov. 19 to get input on how to do that.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency issued its final rule on the Clean Power Plan earlier this year. It is part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.
The first deadline is September 2016, although the final rule allows states to request two additional years if it is seeking public engagement in formulating the plan, said Myra Reece, the interim director of environmental affairs for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
A coalition of 24 states, including South Carolina, and one power company filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last month, claiming the Clean Power Plan was a federal overreach.
Each state is being allowed to come up with its own plan to meet the new regulations. If states don’t come up with their own plan, the EPA will issue its own.
“If we as a state don’t develop a plan, the EPA will come up with a plan that is almost certain to be more expensive,” said Robbie Brown, director of DHEC’s air assessment and regulation division. “We’re hoping with our energy mix, we’ll be able to come up with a plan that will have minimal impact on rates and reliability.”
Brown said there are 26 coal units in South Carolina and that only one dozen will be left by 2018.
“We think we can still use the coal units,” he said. “The new rule won’t force the shutdown of the other units.”
Reece said DHEC wants to work with local advisory groups such as Ten at the Top’s Air Quality Committee.
While cutting carbon emissions by 30 percent will be challenging for South Carolina, it isn’t as bad as the EPA’s proposed rule that would have set the state’s reduction at 53 percent, the third highest in the nation. Davis said the goal was changed after the EPA took into consideration the nuclear power plants under construction in the state.
“Any consumer is concerned about electricity rates,” Reece said. “Business is a heavy energy user.”
As part of the plan, the EPA expects states to understand how the plan will affect rates and how low-income communities will be affected, Reece said.
“It’s important that we get this plan right,” she said. “We need participation from a wide range of stakeholders.”own, director, DHEC director of air assessment and regulation division.