The new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan is sparking much concern and debate around the nation, but especially so in North Dakota as a state so reliant on coal. This was the topic of December’s Eggs & Issues forum.
We were joined by Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, chair of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, Dave Glatt, Environmental Health Section chief, North Dakota Department of Health, Mac McLennon, president and CEO of MinnKota Power, and Assistant Attorney General Maggie Olson, to learn more about what these regulations mean for the state.
The background is that in 2014, early EPA proposals indicated that the state of North Dakota would need to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 11% by 2030. One year later, and with little explanation, they are now requiring North Dakota to implement a 45% reduction instead.
Glatt explained that these regulations are about greenhouse gases and climate change, and that is important for us to take a critical look at moving forward as a state regarding this reduced carbon future. “Everybody has to be part of this, because this issue will affect everybody for decades to come,” Glatt said. “If we do it right, we can lead the nation and maybe the world in how to do this and maybe even still use coal. That is the challenge.”
He went on to explain the differences between the proposed rule and the final rule. “The thing that hit us the hardest was that the proposed rule gave us credit for existing wind power. In the final rule, they said you only get credit for things built after January 1, 2013. That was a significant blow and a tough pill to swallow.”
It’s important to note that over 70% of North Dakota’s electricity is coal-based; 15-18% wind, and the rest is renewable. The impact of the North Dakota plan has the potential to affect nine different states.
McLennon explained that for consumers, the cost of their electricity will rise because of these new regulations – even up to an estimated $400 to $450 million annually, and it may also see some North Dakota assets shut down.
Olson then gave us an update of the litigation and shared that in less than 12 hours, this became the most litigated environmental rule. North Dakota has filed a stay motion and is trying to show that these rules will lead to an economic loss, is a deprivation of our sovereign authority, interest and policies and will lead to irreparable harm.
After the information from our panelists, Mark Nisbet from Xcel Energy shared what his own company is doing in regard to this topic, and then conducted a Q&A with the audience in which we got some answers to how we can keep up with such quickly changing regulations and the possible impact of a new president on these rules.
It was our last month at the Radisson, who was a spectacular host to our Eggs & Issues events in the first year. We hope to see you in future months at the Courtyard by Marriott!
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