Monday is the deadline to give federal regulators feedback on a plan to cut carbon emissions in the United States by 30% by 2030. The Environmental Protection Agency says more than 1.6 million comments have been filed so far.
Valerie Brader is a senior policy advisor to Governor Rick Snyder. She says it’s not clear exactly how much Michigan would have to do to meet the regulations. She says different documents claim Michigan would need to cut emissions by different amounts, from 31% to over 40%.
She says one of the main sticking points is where regulators will measure the starting point from which to reduce emissions. It’s not clear if the EPA will take into consideration all the changes the state has made to its energy portfolio since the renewable energy standard was put in place. That requires Michigan utilities to get at least 10% of their energy from renewable sources, most of which emit less carbon than sources like coal and natural gas.
“Michigan has shown real leadership on incorporating renewables into our portfolio even during some real tough economic times. We committed the dollars to do that and we did it,” Brader said,” If, for example, the goal is 30% and we’re already at 15% that’s a very different conversation than if you’re starting back at zero.”
Brader says the state obviously would like credit for the work it’s already done.
Brader says it’s not clear what Michigan will have to do if federal regulators approve the new rules.
Regardless of the starting point, Brader says energy waste reduction will be a big part of the strategy. She says it’s also likely utilities will have to improve the efficiency of their coal plants and probably use more natural gas.