Those wanting to comment on the Clean Power Plan, which targets reductions of carbon dioxide from power plants — including a 40 percent reduction from Louisiana plants, will have an extra 45 days to do so, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday.
The new end of the comment period will be Dec. 1.
Despite receiving almost 750,000 comments so far, Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said the decision was made to extend the deadline after receiving many requests for more time.
“The more perspectives we hear from, the better the plan will be,” McCabe said.
The proposed federal Clean Power Plan was announced in June with a goal to cut carbon dioxide from power plants as part of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Under the proposed rule, each state would be charged with coming up with methods in which to reach the state’s individual goal.
In Louisiana, the proposed rule would require a 40 percent reduction in carbon dioxide releases from power plants.
The proposed rule has received heavy criticism from some who claim that the rule would damage economic growth.
On Sept. 12, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Peggy Hatch sent a letter to EPA that says the rule, as written, would cripple the state’s economy and called into question the reduction numbers the proposed rule set for the state.
“In our state, we work diligently to balance the needs of our citizens with those of the environment, and the EPA’s plan will prevent us from doing that,” Hatch wrote.
Proponents for the rule say that climate change has to be addressed by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas pollution. In addition, proponents say that there has always been criticism that rules about reducing pollution would hurt the economy, but it hasn’t happened.
“Choosing between a healthy environment and a healthy economy is a false choice,” McCabe said.
During EPA’s existence, she said, air pollution has been reduced by 70 percent while the economy has continued to grow.
EPA estimates that in addition to reductions in carbon dioxide nationwide, the proposed rule would also make cuts in particle pollutions, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent. EPA estimates the proposed rule could provide up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits.
“Climate change is the greatest environmental threat we face,” McCabe said. “We’re no longer projecting future impacts; we’re tallying up current impacts.”
Even with the extended comment deadline, McCabe said, EPA still expects to have a final rule ready by June.
Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.