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Pennsylvania examines options for cutting carbon emissions

In the days after President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency announced final rules for cutting the nation’s carbon emissions from power plants, Rob Altenburg, director of the environmental group PennFuture’s Energy Center, did a few quick calculations to determine how close Pennsylvania is to meeting its final target, 15 years away.

Based on recent and planned coal-fired power plant retirements and existing state programs for energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, “We’re about halfway there,” he said.

“What’s it going to take to get the other half? There are a ton of options.”

Pennsylvania is not among the states with either the hardest or the easiest paths to compliance with the new rule, which the Obama administration is calling the nation’s most significant effort to curb emissions of the principal gas driving the world’s changing climate.

An analysis by SNL Energy that compared projections of what each state’s emissions rate would have been in 2020 without the Clean Power Plan to its goal in 2030 under the new rule found that Pennsylvania will have to cut its emissions rate by 26 percent from where business-as-usual behavior would put the commonwealth in 2020 in order to meet the EPA’s target.

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