Indiana says it won't follow EPA climate rule without changes

Indiana says it won't follow EPA climate rule without changes
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Indiana is prepared to ignore the Obama administration’s climate rule for power plants unless the regulation is changed considerably from last year’s proposal, according to the state's governor.

In a letter sent Wednesday to President Obama, Indiana Gov. Mike PenceMike (Michael) Richard PenceSusan Rice: Trump had 'obligation' to fully vet Flynn Pence: Tax plan may increase deficit 'in the short term' Pence: Media ignoring facts and 'spreading that fake news' MORE (R) used some of the strongest words yet from a governor on the regulation, though he stopped short of ruling out compliance.

“If your administration proceeds to finalize the Clean Power Plan, and the final rule has not demonstrably and significantly improved from the proposed rule, Indiana will not comply,” Pence wrote.

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“I believe the Clean Power Plan as proposed is a vast overreach of federal power that exceeds the EPA’s proper legal authority and fails to strike the proper balance between the health of the environment and the health of the economy,” he continued.

The regulation, as proposed in June, would rely on states to submit plans to the EPA on reducing their power sectors’ emissions by a rate determined by the agency. The rule has a total national goal of a 30 percent reduction by 2030.

Indiana’s goal is a 20 percent drop.

If a state does not submit a plan, the EPA would write its own rules for the state and enforce them, assuming the regulation is not blocked by Congress or the federal courts.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is the only state leader so far to instruct her staff to ignore the regulation.

Leaders in Texas and Wisconsin have voiced strong objections to the rule and expressed doubts that their states would comply, but have also stopped short of completely rejecting it.

“Our nation needs an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy that relies on a variety of different energy sources,” Pence wrote to Obama. “Energy policy should promote the safe, environmentally responsible stewardship of our natural resources with the goal of reliable, affordable energy. Your approach to energy policy places environmental concerns above all others.”

The rule is expected to significantly harm the coal industry, causing the shutdown of more than 20 percent of coal-fired power plants and greatly reducing the demand for coal.

Indiana gets 85 percent of its electricity from coal and ranks No. 8 in the nation in terms of coal production.

Indiana’s senior senator joined the coal industry in applauding Pence’s decision.

“The proposed rule would substantially raise electricity rates for Hoosier families, decrease electric grid reliability, hurt Indiana’s coal industry and undercut our state’s autonomy, all while yielding potentially negligible global carbon dioxide reductions,” Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said in a statement.

“Gov. Pence is right, the EPA should withdraw or substantially change this misguided rule,” he added.

“The governor’s decision not only protects Indiana’s economy,” said Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association, “it also sends a message that states will not be forced to accept EPA regulatory policies that harm their citizens.”

But the EPA defended its rule against Pence’s criticism.

“Called for by President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, EPA’s approach is built on a time-tested state-federal partnership in the Clean Air Act, which was established by Congress, for EPA to establish public health goals and then gives states important flexibility to design plans to meet their individual and unique needs,” EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said in a statement.

This story was updated at 2:00 p.m.