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Michigan to announce key decision on Clean Power Plan

Aug 31, 2015

The BC Cobb power plant in Muskegon is one of 7 units that Consumers Energy will shut down by 2016.
Credit Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Officials with the Michigan Agency for Energy and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will announce results of the state's initial review of the federal Clean Power Plan on Tuesday.

The plan aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by roughly 30% by the year 2030.

The rule gives states some flexibility in how to make the reductions, including using less coal, increasing wind, solar and other renewables, along with energy efficiency.

Michigan's utilities have already made the decision to shut down up to nine coal-burning units, but complying with the Clean Power Plan could require the shutdown of many more.

An official with the Michigan Public Service Commission says the state has made a "key decision about the state's response," that capitalizes on some advantages Michigan appears to have compared to other states.

It's the first time the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has attempted to control carbon emissions, which virtually all climate scientists agree are causing an alarming rise in global temperatures.

They say just a few degrees' increase could cause severe droughts, food shortages, the flooding of coastal areas, and other devastating impacts on humans and other species.

President Obama is touring areas in Alaska this week to call attention to the crisis and the need for the Clean Power Plan.

Nations will meet in Paris in November for a Climate Change Conference. The U.S. Clean Power Plan is considered a crucial step to encourage other governments to make commitments to reduce or cap their carbon emissions.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Shuette has joined a lawsuit attempting to block the rule from going into effect.

The lawsuit argues the U.S. EPA does not have the authority to regulate utilities' carbon emissions under the new rule.

The lawsuit also says states will suffer irreparable harm if the rule is not immediately put on hold, because it will cost states millions of dollars and the diversion of resources in order to devise a compliance plan.

States must have a final compliance plan by 2018.