Iowa agencies comment on proposed EPA clean power plan

Source: Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Friday, November 14, 2014


Three Iowa agencies told the federal government a proposed rule that would force utilities to reduce carbon emissions should not significantly increase consumer costs or jeopardize reliability.

The joint comments were submitted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Utilities Board, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday.

EPA has proposed existing power plants reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming an average of 30 percent by 2030. Iowa’s goal is lower — 16 percent — because of the generation of green power, especially from wind, federal leaders have said.

Iowa leads the nation in the amount of energy it gets from wind, about 27 percent of its total portfolio, officials have said. Still, about 60 percent of Iowa’s energy comes from coal, a large contributor to greenhouse emissions.

Greenhouse gases are the primary driver of climate change, which is blamed for more extreme weather events such as flooding and droughts that threaten families, communities and businesses.

Chuck Gipp, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said the comments were drafted after meeting four times with stakeholders who represent about 35 different organizations. State agencies also met in more than 25 individual stakeholder meetings since the rule was proposed in June.

Gov. Terry Branstad has been critical of the proposed clean power rule, saying it will push energy costs higher and “hurt Iowa consumers and cost Iowans jobs.”

EPA has denied increased costs to consumers.

“Critics claim your energy bills will skyrocket. They’re wrong,” said Gina McCarthy, EPA’s administrator in June. She said any small, short-term change — “think about the price of a gallon of milk a month” — is dwarfed by huge benefits.

“Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks not just to our health, but to our communities, our economy and our way of life,” McCarthy said, adding that families across the country are already coping with climate change that results in higher insurance premiums, property taxes and food prices.