Editorials

NC goes wrong on clean power

North Carolinians, whether they want to or not, will again be digging deeply into their pockets to finance a court fight with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Republicans in charge of state government and the agencies that are part of the regulatory structure don’t care much for regulating the environment, particularly when it means taking on Duke Energy, the nation’s largest electric utility. So they’ve simply snubbed their noses at an EPA requirement that greenhouse gas emissions at Duke Energy power plants be reduced by 12 percent by 2030. The state Department of Environmental Quality proposes a reduction of 0.4 percent.

Guess what? EPA isn’t going to go along with that (and shouldn’t), and therefore the state will spend a long, long time in court fighting for lower standards.

The state says EPA regulation would cause electric bills for the state’s households to go up by over $400 a year because more electricity would have to come from renewables and through the phasing out of coal-burning plants.

The state Environmental Management Commission endorsed the DEQ’s approach. Nothing like a strong management hand from the commission.

North Carolina isn’t the only state, of course, that’s fighting the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Twenty-six states oppose it, but 18 others states, including Virginia, support it.

Certainly cleaner energy is going to be more expensive to some degree, but even as power companies get politicians to do their bidding, more Americans are becoming aware of and concerned about the long-term implications of coal-burning and lax regulation of the environmental consequences of power production. In the long term, more efficient energy production saves everyone money and reduces pollution-related health costs.

The EPA recognizes and long has said that continued waste of energy, and sticking to too much coal-burning power production, will have bad consequences for generations to come and that environmental resources are finite. Once air and water resources are fouled, it is difficult for them to recuperate, if they can at all.

Denying that problems exist, or excusing inadequate regulation as necessary else consumers will be paying more for energy, or just dismissing those who talk of global warming as hysterical isn’t going to help this planet survive. Nor is setting up another tiresome and ultimately futile confrontation with federal environmental officials.

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