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Can W.Va. Comply With the Clean Power Plan? Researchers Say 'Yes'

e-WV, The West Virginia Encyclopedia
WV Division of Tourism, David Fattaleh

Just this past June a report was released that projects possible scenarios in West Virginia given the proposed Clean Power Plan.  West Virginia Public Broadcasting revisited the authors now that the final rule is passed.

“Until this rule, there were no national limits for carbon pollution, said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in an online video that announced the Clean Power Plan. She said 4.3 million comments were taken into account between the proposed rule in 2014 and the final rule released this week.


“It will keep energy affordable and reliable. It will steer us toward where the world is going, not looking back at where it’s been,” McCarthy said.

In one of his own video releases, President Obama is calling the Clean Power Plan “the biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken to combat climate change.”

“President Obama is looking at his legacy on the issue of climate change,” said James Van Nostrand, an associate professor at WVU’s College of Law and the director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development.

Van Nostrand co-authored a report last month that looks at how West Virginia can comply with the proposed Clean Power Plan - despite the almost unanimous consensus by state leaders that the EPA’s rule would spell certain economic death in a state that relies so heavily on coal production and coal-fired power.

“The All-of-the-above approaches that we’re suggesting will lead to compliance are still going to lead to compliance under the final rule,” said Evan Hansen, the other author of the report that details how West Virginia can comply with the new Clean Power Plan. Hansen and Van Nostrand have been carefully considering the options for several years and conclude that West Virginia will be able to meet the federal goals - but both say it will be a painful process.

“Complying with the final rule is definitely going to require changes in West Virginia,” Hansen said. “For one thing, less coal is going to be burned and mined, impacting coal miners and companies, but still ¾ of the energy in WV will continue to be coal. So this is not by any means the death-knell for coal.”

Hansen also mentioned the Clean Energy Incentive Program within the Clean Power Plan that incentivizes energy efficiency and development of renewable energy in low-income areas saying, “it might soften the blow and diversify the economy.”

The Clean Power Plan sets goals for states individually but leaves states to come up with compliance plans. Federal regulators strongly suggest states take advantage of compliance options such as multi-state agreements, and interstate trading of carbon credits. Federal regulators also have compliance models in place to guide states or to impose on states that do not comply by 2022.

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