Gov: Mississippi might not comply with climate rule

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Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) has told the Environmental Protection Agency his state might not comply with a forthcoming Obama administration rule on carbon emissions from power plants.

“We do not see how it will be possible to reasonably develop a State Implementation Plan [SIP] given the burdensome requirements of EPA’s proposal in its current form,” Bryant wrote in a Thursday letter to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. 

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Bryant said the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is an “unfunded mandate” that would require the state to build new energy infrastructure in order to bring down its carbon emissions. He complained that the proposed plan set more stringent emissions goals for Mississippi than other states and that it does not credit the state for reducing its emissions in previous years.  

The letter also reflected concerns shared by many opponents of the Clean Power Plan, primarily that it could hurt electricity reliability or raise energy prices by forcing coal-fired power plants to shut down.

Bloomberg BNA first posted a copy of Bryant’s letter.

“The flaws inherent in EPA's proposal make the development of responsible SIPs unworkable for states, including Mississippi,” Bryant wrote.

“One of my most important duties as Governor is to secure reliable access to affordable electricity for Mississippians. I am deeply concerned that the current form of EPA’s proposal could prevent me from fulfilling this duty.”

The Clean Power Plan, which the Obama administration is scheduled to finalize this summer, looks to cut emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent before 2030 by setting emissions reduction goals for states. 

If Mississippi declines to write a plan to reduce its emissions, the federal government will write one for the state instead. 

“Governor Bryant is deeply concerned about the Obama administration’s overreach and believes [the rule] is bad for Mississippi and bad for consumers in this state," Bryant spokeswoman Nicole Webb said in a statement.

"He is weighing all available options before determining whether Mississippi will prepare a State Implementation Plan and hopes that the EPA will responsibly consider the concerns raised by Mississippi and other states.”

Mississippi legislators adopted a resolution this year opposing the Clean Power Plan, calling for the EPA and the Obama administration to either withdraw the proposal or water it down. 

Several Republican governors have threatened to ignore the Clean Power Plan. Oklahoma has formally said it will not write its own implementation plan, and governors from West Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Texas and Louisiana have said they might do so as well.

In a tweet, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, “I applaud [Bryant] for standing against EPA overreach.”

This story was updated at 5:45 p.m.