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C-U Backers Of EPA Carbon Pollution Rules Speak Out

The Obama administration’s new draft rules targeting power plant emissions found some central Illinois support.

At a Champaign news conference on Monday, speakers including U of I climate change scientist Donald Wuebbles praised the rules as a step in the right direction. The proposed rules seek to cut carbon emissions from power plants 30 percent by 2030. And Wuebbles says he hopes the federal government will stay focused on addressing climate change over the years.

"Now, can we convince Congress to stay with this, or the next president to stay with this? I don’t know," said Wuebbles, the Harry E. Preble Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Illinois Urbana campus. "But I think what President Obama is doing is the right kind of thing. We need to be pressuring to reduce emissions, somehow. Will that be sustained? I hope so. But who knows? I’ve given enough testimony before Congress that I’m a little worried about that.

Wuebbles is one of the coordinating lead authors on the assessment reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore in 2007. But Wuebbles will find little support for the new rules on power plant emissions from members of Congress in east-central Illinois. Republicans Rodney Davis and John Shimkus both say the new EPA rules are part of the Obama administration’s “war on coal” that will cut jobs and raise energy prices.

Opposition to the rules also came from the Illinois Manufacturer’s Association, which says the nation needs an “all of the above approach” that includes coal along with natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy sources. And the head of the Illinois Coal Association is pledging to challenge the proposed regulations “every step of the way”.

In contrast, U-S Senator Dick Durbin (R-Illinois) praised the new EPA rules, saying it “gives states like Illinois the authority and flexibility to develop a strategy to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, encourage local stakeholders to develop a plan to protect jobs, and provide the next generation a more livable world.” Durbin also cited the FutureGen 2.0 project, which will update a coal-fired power plant in the Morgan County town of Meredosia with carbon-capture technology designed to remove carbon dioxide from its emissions and store it underground.

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