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Lawmakers Work On PA's Plan to Cut Carbon Emissions

While officials at the Environmental Protection Agency review and digest testimony from hundreds of witnesses in Pittsburgh and three other cities on that agency’s Clean Power Plan, Pennsylvania lawmakers are working on the state’s plan.

President Obama has called for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and the commonwealth must submit its plan to the federal government by 2016.

The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee heard Thursday from stakeholders in the environmental and energy sectors.

The committee’s minority chairman, Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) said he’s seeking flexibility in EPA’s final plan. 

“Recognizing the EPA is putting a very aggressive, first time in the history of the country that we’re going to have these kind of national standards, we have to make sure because of some of the aggressive things we’ve already done to address climate change in Pennsylvania that we credit in this complicated EPA model,” he said.

Yudichak said the EPA plan should allow emissions to be reduced at a “realistic” rate without compromising energy sector including coal.

“As natural gas become a bigger part of generation that’s certainly putting greater pressure on coal-fired plants," Yudichak said. "The EPA regulations over the last decade have made it more difficult for coal generation. They are definitely feeling the squeeze. We want to provide them with the flexibility. These are very important jobs — 36,000 jobs in Pennsylvania related to the coal industry."

EPA’s current proposal calls for a 32 percent reduction from 2012 levels of carbon pollution from power plants by 2030.

According to Yudichak, the state Department of Environmental Protection should develop an energy plan that benefits Pennsylvania's public health, environmental health and climate.

"Any plan that we devise before the June 2016 deadline must also protect ratepayers from higher energy prices and stimulate, not disrupt our local and state economy," Yudichak said.