2013 paper could show how officials will meet EPA demands to reduce carbon emissions

06/09/2014 04:41 PM

Kentucky officials laid out a potential path to nearly meet the proposed EPA carbon emission standards within 6-years, according to a state white paper sent to the EPA in 2013.

Kentucky officials have two years before they have to announce a plan to reduce carbon emissions in the state 18 percent by 2030. The national target is 30 percent reductions by 2030. But Kentucky’s share is 18 percent. And the state energy cabinet’s report produced in 2013 showed how the state could cut carbon emissions 17 percent by 2020.

The 2013 white paper report titled: ‘Greenhouse Gas Policy Implications for Kentucky under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act’ was published in October of 2013 and sent with an accompanying letter from Gov. Steve Beshear to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Beshear and drafters of the report request flexibility for states to create their own unique carbon reduction measures, but Beshear said in his letter that the overall report — and the estimates of potential reductions — aren’t necessarily what the commonwealth would do but what Kentucky could do to curb emissions.

“Our framework is not a formal proposal, per se — it is meant to guide our discussions with you and to demonstrate that we can achieve reductions to meet President Obama’s goals in a meaningful manner that does not jeopardize our state’s economy,” Beshear wrote in the letter.

While Kentucky’s ultimate path forward to reducing carbon is far from being decided, the 2013 paper could provide a road map of sorts for what to expect in two years from energy officials.

The state could choose to use demand-side energy efficiencies coupled with supply-side conservation or efficiency programs to reduce electricity generation by 1 percent, the paper said.

Fuel source switching could also reduce carbon emissions, the state found. It could increase renewable energy to 5 percent of the overall energy portfolio and switch to 20 percent natural gas. Energy and environment Secretary Len Peters told Pure Politics in May that the cabinet already expects to transition to 15 to 20 percent natural gas by 2020 because of the cheap cost of natural gas and increased regulations on coal fired power plants.

The report also says Kentucky could make up for emissions through reforestation efforts on both mined land and non-mined land across the state.

“We have initiated discussions with volunteer-driven organizations for reforesting 2 million acres over a 15 to 20 year time period, with an estimated 2 to 3 tons of carbon dioxide capture per acre,” the paper says.

Energy and environment cabinet officials said Monday that the paper was just for discussion and not a plan of action. But some of those measures could end up in a final plan — to what amount though is still too early to tell, they said.

“The EPA opened the door to use all of those things,” said John Lyons the assistant secretary for climate policy within the Energy Cabinet.

Lyons is combing through the 645-page EPA proposal to see what credit Kentucky can get for reductions put in place under mercury air toxic standards recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The proposed EPA rules seemed to incorporate many of the requests made within the white paper. But many politicians still said it wasn’t enough, including Beshear.

“I appreciate that the proposed rule regarding existing power plants announced today does recognize that differences do exist among manufacturing states and in states that produce the nation’s energy. However, I am still extremely concerned that it does not provide adequate flexibility or attainable goals,” Beshear said when the rules were announced last week.

The EPA has one year to finalize the carbon emission rule , which asks states to reduce overall carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 based on 2005 emissions numbers. After the rule is finalized states have one year to draft a plan to meet the standards which the EPA then has four months to review before any action is taken.


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