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Will June 2 be D-Day for big carbon polluters?

Carbon smog: America's dark addiction
by Ken Korczak

Something monumental is coming our way on June 2.

On that day the new decree arrives from the EPA requiring big fossil fuel polluters to at least begin the process of cleaning up their act.

But wait a minute -- as the planet continues to heat up at an alarming rate, real change may still be years away.

That’s because each state will be allowed a number of years to develop their own carbon reduction policies, and some states, such as fossil fuel rich North Dakota, are already making significant rumblings about thwarting the EPA rules entirely.

Dr. J. Drake Hamilton of Minnesota-based explained the coming EPA action this way in a May 21 webinar:

“... the EPA will give states the flexibility to present a plan, so Minnesota will present a plan for Minnesota that will work for the Minnesota situation,” she said.

She continued:

“On June 2, states will roll out a broad array of policy designs … there will be a percentage of reduction -- we don’t know what that percentage will be -- that each state will make, and it will be up to each state to decide how they want to meet those reduction requirements. They will have several years to do that.

(Note: You can view the full webinar HERE )

On a recent trip to North Dakota, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy got an earful from many sectors -- people, forces and the many players who love the economic prosperity exploding across the state thanks to coal and oil, and who are eager to keep everything “business as usual.”

McCarthy, speaking to a North Dakota audience, hardly sounded like a woman on a mission to break the back of coal:

“I’m just trying to assure you that we’re not arbitrarily picking a number that everybody needs to meet. We’re looking at individual states, in that the primary way we regulate pollutants is not to say how much everybody can do, but try to set a rate that is achievable.” Source

All experts agree thatsignificant legal challenges to the EPA rules are a foregone conclusion. McCarthy herself admits, and says often: “No matter what, we’ll be sued over the carbon regulations.” Source

At the McCarthy speaking event, Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota offered this frosty, if not outright hostile assessment of McCarthy’s comments:

“What you’re hearing here is that the standard you’re talking about setting is either not achievable or only achievable at such a high price that consumers … would pay a price they just can’t afford to pay.” Source

Thus, the June 2 EPA roll out of its first-ever carbon-curbing regulations is likely to be just the beginning of a long struggle.

Ahead are years of state government legislative processes, lawsuits sure to be aggressive, and a hostile U.S. Senate and House (especially if Republican win a majority in the Senate later this year).

President Obama is scheduled to give a major address on June 2 to outline the major details of the EPA carbon regulation plan, including what some say may be as high as a 17 percent goal in carbon reduction targets.

Some states, such as Minnesota, have made it clear they are eager to meet the goals of the EPA. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton wants nothing less than to eventually eliminate all coal burning plants in the state -- while others, such as North Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska (which has already filed the first lawsuit) will be fighting tooth and nail against the EPA the whole way.

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