EPA Head Confident That States Will Follow New Carbon Emissions Rules

Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), speaks during an interview in Washington, D.C
Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), speaks during an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, June 3, 2014. The Obama administration will revise its proposal to fight climate change in the next year if individual states show they cant meet the targets, McCarthy said. Photographer: David Banks/Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said Friday that she believes most states will ultimately comply with her agency's proposed new rules on carbon emissions.

The rules, which were released earlier this year and are supposed to be finalized by June 2015, set new limits, specific to each state, on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Each state, however, will need to develop its own plan for meeting those standards. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA can impose its own plans on states that choose not to submit one, and can legally compel states to follow those plans.

A dozen states have already filed suit against the EPA to block the regulation.

"I'm not naïve in thinking we're going to get 100 percent of states completely convinced that developing a plan is in their best interest," McCarthy said Friday in a meeting with reporters. But she thinks her agency can get most states to agree that "the better thing for them is to do their own plans."

McCarthy also indicated that some states that have publicly objected to the original rules are nonetheless engaging in productive conversations about how to adjust them. "I think the public discussion might be a little different than the roll-up-the-sleeves, technical discussions we're having around these rules," she said.

The comment period for giving feedback on the new rules has been extended from Oct. 16 to Dec. 1, in order to allow affected parties more time to weigh in. McCarthy said the agency has already received more than 1 million comments.

The EPA head declined to discuss a report released this week that indicated a 2.9 percent rise in U.S. emissions in 2013. "I haven't seen that," she said. "I know that we are getting ready soon to go out with a greenhouse gas inventory that hopefully will talk more in detail about that."

McCarthy, who attended the United Nations summit on climate change in New York earlier this week, credited President Barack Obama for his leadership on the issue, saying that his administration's support for the emissions rules have improved the international discussion about a new global climate agreement.

"I have been going to these meetings for a long time, and it was by far the most positive I have been to," she said of the summit. "The actions of the president really seem to be creating a great atmosphere."



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