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Governor Pence Says Indiana Won't Comply With EPA's Carbon Dioxide Rule

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is warning President Obama that unless significant changes are made to the rule, Indiana will not comply with upcoming greenhouse gas limits.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to finalize the Clean Power Plan later this summer. Regulators will set carbon dioxide emissions reduction goals for states; states will have the option of crafting an individual state plan to achieve compliance, or follow a blanket federal plan.

For Indiana, the EPA has suggested a 20 percent reduction in emissions (because the rule hasn’t been finalized, that number is preliminary). The agency has said 5.6 percent of that could come from increasing the efficiency of coal plants, 2.3 percent from using natural gas combined cycle plants more, 3.4 percent from relying more on renewables and 9.1 percent by reducing demand by using electricity more efficiently.

Both Indiana and Kentucky were among the states that sued the agency in an attempt to scuttle the rule before it’s finalized. But earlier this month, a panel of judges in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decidedit would be premature to rule on the pending measure.

In his letter, Pence tells Obama that he believes the Clean Power Plan is a “vast overreach of federal power” and doesn’t consider the health of the economy along with the environment.

"More than a violation of the goals of affordable, reliable energy, your plan ignores the separation of powers enshrined in our nation’s Constitution. To realize the carbon dioxide emission reductions you seek, Indiana will have to fundamentally change the way electricity is dispatched. Currently, electricity is dispatched according to lowest price, which is consistent with the goals of affordability and reliability that drive energy policy in our state. Under your plan, sources of electricity are determined according to lowest carbon dioxide emissions. In other words, carbon dioxide drives the decision, not cost. A change of this magnitude should not be done through administrative fiat. Only Congress can appropriately debate and determine this course for our nation.

…I reject the Clean Power Plan and inform you that absent demonstrable and significant improvement in the final rule, Indiana will not comply."

Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has called on states to refuse to submit compliance plans to the EPA. Kentucky is working on a state plan, though Attorney General Jack Conway joined the lawsuit against the EPA. State regulators have saidthey expect the commonwealth will be able to comply without much effort in 2020.

Legal experts have said that non-compliance with the law will have consequences. Indiana and other states can refuse to submit a state plan, but under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has authority to impose a Federal Implementation Plan on the state. The EPA is more limited in what it can impose, so any federal plan would likely rely more heavily on restricting emissions from plants, and less on increasing efficiency or renewable energy.