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NJ welcomes carbon emission reduction guidelines

By: Seattlepi.com |

The Obama administration announced new rules on Monday for reducing carbon emissions from power plants across the United States.

In New Jersey, the guidelines call for emission rates from fossil-fueled power plants to be reduced by 43 percent by 2030. But state environmental officials say the rule will have minimal impact in New Jersey, as less than three percent of the state’s electricity is generated by coal.

New Jersey Environmental Protection Department spokesman Larry Ragonese said the agency welcomed Monday’s announcement. He noted that the state had already been moving actively toward cleaner energy initiatives and has beaten EPA target emissions rates for the past several years.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., applauded the administration’s move, as did several environmental groups who called the proposed rules an important step toward mitigating the effects of climate change.

The proposed rules, which would require a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide from the electric power sector from 2005 levels by 2030, are likely to face political and legal opposition. If finalized next year, states will have until 2018 to develop their own plans to meet the new targets.

Some states will likely set up or join an existing scheme that caps the amount of emissions from the power sector, but allows power companies to trade emissions permits with each other.

Gov. Chris Christie has taken steps to opt out of a so-called ‘cap-and-trade’ regional agreement to set limits on emissions by fossil fuel-burning power plants. His administration is fighting a court challenge from environmental groups who sued after Christie withdrew the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2011, saying it was a failed public policy and a burden to taxpayers.

Christie’s office did not return a call seeking comment Monday afternoon.