| WASHINGTON, June 4
WASHINGTON, June 4 Kentucky may be well
positioned to meet a carbon emission target for power plants set
by federal regulators, even as U.S. Senate candidates there
blast the plan, saying it will cripple the state's coal
The Environmental Protection Agency seems to have listened
to feedback from state officials before the rollout on Monday,
said John Lyons, Kentucky's assistant secretary for climate
The result: the Bluegrass State may be able to meet EPA
targets between now and 2030.
"I appreciate EPA's stakeholder process. Undoubtedly they
did listen to our concerns," Lyons told Reuters.
Shedding the carbon intensity of its fleet by 400 pounds of
CO2/MWh will rely on retiring coal plants and shifting to
natural gas, measures already planned to meet separate EPA rules
on slashing mercury emissions.
"How far down the road that gets us? I'm not sure yet," he
said, adding that market conditions could change drastically by
2030, making natural gas more expensive.
Kentucky gets over 92 percent of its electricity from coal
plants, the second-highest proportion of any state, and is a
major coal producer.
Its coal industry is the rallying point in the state's
Senate race, in which Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell, the
Senate Minority Leader, is being challenged by Democrat Alison
Lyons and Len Peters, the state's Energy and Environment
Secretary, talked to the EPA for months. They urged a flexible
approach that would allow Kentucky to use a range of measures to
allow an achievable target.
The EPA assigned Kentucky one of the lowest targets in its
proposal, which is based on a complex formula that factors in
actions states have already taken to cut carbon and the
potential they have to make further cuts.
By 2030 Kentucky must cut another 18.3 percent in emissions
from its utility fleet from 2012 levels, the sixth-lowest target
of the 50 states.
Washington state, in comparison, has a reduction target of
71.8 percent. Most of that is expected to come from the closure
of a single coal plant.
Kentucky could also be hamstrung, Lyons said, by a state law
that stops officials from using certain measures to comply with
The law, backed by the state's coal industry, says state
regulators can only comply with EPA rules by making improvements
at the site of a power plant.
And while the EPA has said that states should be able to
reduce coal plant heat rates by 6 percent on average, Lyons said
Kentucky's aging fleet may be unable to exceed a 1 percent cut.
Regardless of the anti-EPA noise in the dueling Senate
campaigns, Lyons plans to keep working with the EPA during the
next public stakeholder process, a 120-day comment period.
"Our job is to assess the rule and see what it is going to
require and what impacts it is going to have," he said. "The
elections don't play any part of what we have to do here."
(Editing by Ros Krasny and Eric Walsh)