Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Stakeholders Start On Utah's Clean Power Plan

The Huntington Power Plant was completed in 1974. The entrance to PacifiCorp's Deer Creek Mine is located just south of the plant where miners are harvesting coal from 15 miles into the mountain.
KUER File Photo
Emissions from the Huntington Power Plant in Emery County is one of the targets of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan. Power plant pollution are the largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

State environmental regulators want inputfrom Utahns about reducing the pollution blamed for climate change.

Utah’s joined 24 other states to fight the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan in court.

At the same time, state regulators have been drafting a state plan to comply with the new rules.

“This is a rule that can have widespread impacts, and we want to make sure that it’s done in thoughtful way,” says Alan Matheson, director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. “To the extent possible, we want to control our own destiny.”

The regulations require each state to draw up its own plan to cut the greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants Utah cut emissions over 1/3 by the year 2030.

Critics say that would cripple Utah’s coal industry and boost consumer energy costs, since coal-fired power plants generate around 90 percent of the state’s electricity.

Meanwhile, Rocky Mountain Power says it’s on track to meet the goal, and Matheson says Utah needs a fallback in case the lawsuit fails.

“If we don’t file a state plan,” he says, “then we would be subject to a one-size-fits-all federal plan that wouldn’t be in the interests of the people of Utah.”

DEQ holds its first public stakeholder meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.