Arizona’s emissions dilemma – tough state plan or federal crackdown?

Agustín Ruiz/Flickr
Agustín Ruiz/Flickr

By Rachel Leingang and Luige del Puerto | Arizona Capitol Times

A federal environmental mandate could force the state to choose between implementing strict carbon emissions rules on its own terms or enduring a federal takeover if it refuses – an option policymakers and utilities say could be far worse.

The Environmental Protection Agency is completing a rule to cut carbon emissions nationwide by 30 percent by 2030. The agency, however, has initially proposed a steeper cut – 52 percent – for Arizona.

That would plunge the state into an energy crisis not seen since California’s rolling blackouts early last decade, officials fear. They maintain that the EPA’s initial pitch would force the closure of all of Arizona’s coal plants by 2020, forcing the state to shift to more renewables and natural gas when existing infrastructure couldn’t support the change.

An environmental quality officer told the Arizona Capitol Times that a more realistic goal is a reduction of carbon emissions in the 30 percent range, but if the EPA wrote Arizona’s compliance plan, the federal agency could insist on cutting carbon pollution here by half in just a little over a dozen years.

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