The Obama administration unveiled a plan Monday that aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 30 percent over the next 15 years.
Under the plan, carbon emissions are to be reduced 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. States will individually determine how to meet customized goals and submit plans to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Some states will be allowed to emit more pollutants and others less, leading to an overall, nationwide reduction of 30 percent. This means some states that rely heavily on coal will not necessarily need to cut the full 30 percent. The plan calls for Nebraska to reduce its carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2030.
Additionally, states that have already taken steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will receive credit for those actions.
Several lawmakers in both the House and Senate have already vowed to try and block the plan, citing concerns over the cost that could be transferred to consumers.
"A recent study suggests EPA’s new regulations could drive up yearly electric bills by an average of $200 per family," said. Sen. Deb Fischer, "and almost a quarter million jobs could be lost through 2030. In Nebraska alone, coal-related industries are responsible for almost 23,000 jobs and generate nearly $4.9 billion in economic output."
Fischer adds that because Nebraska is a public power state, Nebraskans would "be on the hook twice" -- first to make current plants compliant and then again as consumers paying increased power prices.
Sen. Mike Johanns says he has already cosponsored legislation that would prevent EPA from moving forward with this rule. He argues that this rule will have little impact on our environment, but have a "devastating" impact on the nation's economy.
"We can all agree that clean air is worth fighting for," said Johanns, "but the president seems to imagine a bubble over the U.S., as if pollution from other countries that generate more and regulate less, don't reach our environment."
Troy Bredenkamp with the Nebraska Rural Electric Association says the rules will likely require some expensive updates here in Nebraska.
But he hopes the state will be able to comply without drastic changes because the state already gets a significant amount of its electricity from nuclear and hydropower.