Environment

The rollout Monday of the federal Clean Power Plan was heralded by environmental groups and criticized by the coal industry and many Kentucky politicians. But it was also somewhat of a surprise for Kentucky regulators, who are crafting a transition document to hand over to the next governor’s administration in December.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s earlier proposal laid out a goal of an 18 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions for Kentucky.

The final version is more stringent. Depending which path Kentucky takes to comply, the state will have to reduce carbon emissions by either 30 or 40 percent.

As WFPL reported yesterday, according to the EPA’s calculations, Kentucky is projected to be in compliance with the new, more stringent, rule by 2020 — a full decade before the deadline. State regulators are trying to determine how the EPA calculated these numbers, which are significantly different from what the Energy and Environment Cabinet predicted the state’s emissions would be during that time period.

In the meantime, here’s what the future of carbon emissions could look like in Kentucky, if you’re only taking coal-fired power plants into account. (Of course, natural gas plants emit CO2 as well, but the emissions are much less than coal plants.) These numbers are based on the plants that have announced their retirement, as well as the timeframe in which other plants will likely be candidates for retirement, based on their age.

If these projections hold, Kentucky won’t be too far off from meeting the new EPA goal (about 63.1 million tons) by 2030. And that’s just from closing coal-fired power plants. There are other ways, of course, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, such as investing more heavily in renewable energy and implementing more energy-efficiency measures for homes and businesses.