- North Carolina intends to file a lawsuit blocking the U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan, with state officials saying the new greenhouse gas limits will spike power prices and put the grid's reliability in jeopardy, Argus reports.
- But while the state is looking to challenge the CPP, the Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Donald van der Vaart said officials are also looking at nuclear generation as a way to "leapfrog" natural gas.
- Since the federal government issued the final rule in August, states have been mulling legal challenges, with many observers expecting that the case will ultimately wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
North Carolina's chief environmental regulator made two significant announcements this week related to the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan. According to Argus, DEQ Secretary van der Vaart said the state will join a lawsuit seeking to block the new regulations while contemplating new nuclear generation to essentially "leapfrog" natural gas to a lower-carbon energy economy.
"The real discussion we need to be having in North Carolina is about nuclear power, and it is a discussion we are having," said van der Vaart at the John Locke Foundation. "[Nuclear] is really the dual plan to put in place in case we lose the litigation, because we need to leapfrog natural gas."
Under the new rule, North Carolina will need to slash its carbon emissions rate by about 32% below 2012 levels or cut its overall emission rate down to 12%.
North Carolina is already on the path towards reducing emissions and moving away from coal. The state has gone from having no significant solar capacity to just under 1,100 MW in four years, though a recent budget compromise did not include extending the state's 35% tax credit for renewable energy projects.
States have been lining up to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the new rules. Oklahoma had two lawsuits tossed out as premature, which it had filed before the final rule was announced. Last month, Colorado indicated it would join a multi-state lawsuit against the rule.