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Corbett leery of EPA carbon emission proposal

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New proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations may cost Pennsylvanians jobs, Gov. Tom Corbett said.

The Clean Power Plan, touted by President Barack Obama during an announcement today, aims to cut carbon pollution 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

“Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life. EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut harmful carbon pollution from our largest source — power plants,” EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said in a news release from the agency. “By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids. We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment — our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation and create jobs.”

While his staff reviews the proposal, Corbett said, initial reports indicate the policy will hurt Pennsylvania’s economy. Almost 63,000 men and women, including 8,100 miners, work in jobs supported by the coal industry, Corbett said in a news release.

“Anything that seeks to or has the effect of shutting down coal-fired power plants is an assault on Pennsylvania jobs, consumers and those citizens who rely upon affordable, abundant domestic energy,” Corbett said in the release.

Power plants account for about one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to the EPA. There are no national limits on carbon pollution levels, despite federal limits on other pollutants.

But Corbett questioned the need for the regulations.

“Our commitment to Pennsylvania’s coal industry does not mean we have to sacrifice clean air,” he said. “Quite the contrary, greenhouse gas emissions today are at levels we haven’t seen since 1994. The United States is leading the world in reducing carbon emissions — a significant accomplishment brought about by our commitment to environmental protection, advancements in new technology and the power of a free market.”

In April, the state Department of Environmental Protection submitted a white paper to the EPA, urging federal officials to consider state differences and needed flexibility when developing emissions guidelines addressing carbon dioxide standards for existing fossil fuel-fired power stations, Corbett said.

EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 120 days after publication in the Federal Register and will hold four public hearings on the proposed regulations during the week of July 28 in Denver, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh. Based on this input, EPA will finalize standards next June.

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