Editor's note: The following summary represents state and utility stances after the Supreme Court stayed the Clean Power Plan in February 2016.
"As it looks today, I think we're going to step back" on potential efforts to comply with the U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan, Dave Glatt, chief of the environmental health section at the North Dakota Department of Health, said soon after the Supreme Court stay.
"There's a lot of good information that we've collected to date, and we're going to keep the dialogue going with the utilities, the environmental groups and other parties about what makes sense in terms of crafting a state energy plan going forward," Glatt said.
North Dakota remains open to developing "a common-sense carbon reduction strategy," just not under the Clean Power Plan, he said.
The state saw its emission reduction goals leap fourfold in the final rule. The state filed a lawsuit challenging the rule when it was published in the Federal Register, independent of a separate, 24-state lawsuit filed on the same day.
Many of the state's elected leaders and power companies agreed that implementing EPA's emission reduction targets will be a challenge.
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) said, "We know already, no matter how hard we try, there is no way that we can achieve the 45 percent reduction in the time frame that they're talking about" and acknowledged that participating in some form of carbon trading is "where we could eventually wind up" if the state were to meet its emission reduction targets.
Julie Fedorchak, chairwoman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, was disappointed that EPA extended the start of the compliance period by two years, from 2020 to 2022. She wanted a five-year delay to build up wind power in the state.
"I think that given time, we can do this in a natural way and ease our electric grid into a more clean, less carbon-intensive power supply," she said.
North Dakota was developing a state implementation plan as it pursued a legal challenge to the rule, concluding a public comment period on the state's compliance strategy in December 2015. The state was poised to request an extension from EPA and submit is final state compliance plan in 2018.
Bismarck-based Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. expressed "significant concern" about the state's ability to meet EPA's targets.
"Montana-Dakota anticipates that additional electric and natural gas transmission infrastructure are needed in order to implement the new resources required for compliance," explaining it would take five to seven years to install the needed infrastructure.
"If the infrastructure is not in place by the time a new resource is needed, either reliability of the electric system will be at risk or compliance with the CPP Rule may be at risk," Montana-Dakota wrote.
Nonetheless, Montana-Dakota and other power companies urged the state to craft its own compliance plan to avoid EPA imposing a federal plan on the state. It and several others urged the Department of Health to consider allowing power plants to participate in some form of an interstate carbon trading system as part of its state compliance plan.
Last updated on July 15, 2016 at 8:08 AM