The state environmental agency says a proposed federal rule to reduce carbon dioxide releases from power plants exceeds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's authority, will put electrical grids at risk and is unfair in how it would be applied to states.
The Advocate reports the state Department of Environmental Quality submitted its more extensive comments, elaborating on many of the concerns the agency expressed in a September letter to the EPA.
"Quite simply, there is no provision in the (Clean Air) Act — or in any other statute — that gives EPA the authority to fundamentally change the way electricity is dispatched in a state, to require investment in uneconomic (for Louisiana) renewable energy sources, or to mandate programs reducing the demand for electricity," DEQ Secretary Peggy Hatch wrote.
Known as the Clean Power Plan, the proposed rule was set out for public comment earlier this year as part of a larger Climate Action Plan put forward by President Barack Obama. Carbon dioxide is known as a "greenhouse gas" and contributes to global warming documented through many national and international studies.
One of the big problems with the rule, according to DEQ, is that simply regulating the current industrial practice at power plants isn't enough to meet the carbon dioxide reduction goal for the state.
Instead, the rule offers options that would dictate how electricity itself is generated and distributed, as well as energy efficiency programs in residential areas, said Bryan Johnston, senior environmental scientist in the DEQ air permits division.
Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is given the power to regulate pollution producers, he said. Distribution lines and home efficiency don't cause pollution and aren't within the scope of what EPA can regulate, he said.
However, those were included in the plan because EPA knew it couldn't get to the carbon dioxide reduction goal it wanted by simply regulating emissions from power plants itself, Johnston said.
"The Clean Air Act allows EPA to control sources of pollution. How electricity is delivered is not a source of pollution," Johnston said.