Clean Power Plan

Transmission lines pictured Dec. 17, 2014, carry electricity from the Laramie River Station power plant in Wheatland. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has asked for a half-million dollars to prepare for a new federal rule aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

CHEYNNE — Wyoming environmental regulators have asked for about $550,000 to prepare for a federal rule that’s intended to address climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has asked for the money to be included in the 2017-2018 budget from Gov. Matt Mead.

President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan is not scheduled to take effect until at least 2022. Wyoming is one of two dozen states that have sued to block the regulations.

Wyoming DEQ Director Todd Parfitt says the state intends to seek a two-year extension of the deadline to come up with a plan to reduce emissions.

If the state refuses to make a submittal by Sept. 6, the federal government will create an implementation plan on the state’s behalf — an outcome state officials want to avoid.

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“The state has until Sept. 6, 2016, to make its first submittal—and for us it would be a submittal to get a two-year extension to develop a plan,” Parfitt said.

The budget request includes seeking $300,000 in state general funds and almost $250,000 in air quality emission fees to pay for the effort. It would be used to hire a consultant to assist in communication, education and research, and to fund an analysis of air quality issues.

The Joint Appropriations Committee will begin voting on the governor’s budget proposal this week. The panel will then prepare its own budget for presentation to the full Legislature when the budget session begins Feb. 8.

The Clean Power Plan, announced in August, seeks to reduce carbon emissions nationwide by 32 percent by 2030. It sets a goal of cutting Wyoming’s total emissions by 37 to 44 percent compared to its 2012 baseline.

Supporters say the reductions are needed to safeguard the environment, protect public health and battle climate change. But opponents in Wyoming say it will cripple the economy in a state that’s heavily dependent on coal production.

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