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Carbon rule gives states leeway to meet climate change goal, EPA chief says

WASHINGTON _ The Obama administration's final rule for reducing carbon emissions at power plants across the nation will be released on Monday and will give states wide latitude to adopt an energy mix and efficiency measures, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Sunday.

All of the state-specific standards are "reasonable and achievable," EPA administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters on a conference call.

"They’re all entirely doable and (implementing them) will not affect reliability or affordability."

The specific state targets are expected to be released on Monday.

A White House official said Sunday that the rule represents "the single biggest step any president has made to curb carbon pollution that is fueling climate change."

Gov. Mary Fallin has already ordered her administration not to formulate a plan to meet Oklahoma's targets. And Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is part of a multi-state lawsuit claiming the Clean Air Act does not give the EPA authority to regulate carbon emissions.

The rule could be tied up in court for years and may ultimately be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. McCarthy said Sunday it is a "legally very strong rule."

The EPA rule has been revised over the last few months after input from industries and other interested parties. The agency received about 4 million public comments before finalizing the rule.

McCarthy said states will have until 2022 to adopt a plan before mandatory requirements kick in. That is two years longer than the EPA first proposed. And they will now have a year longer _ until 2018 _ to submit a plan. She said they could also adopt a model plan.

Because of the rule, carbon emissions by 2030 will be about one-third lower than they were in 2005, McCarthy said.

She said "natural gas is a very strong part of the energy mix' and that "fossil fuels remain a consistent and important part of the energy supply."

The cost by 2030 will top $8 billion, but there will be $4 to $7 in benefits for every $1 in cost, she said.

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›