New Jersey environmentalists are applauding a plan by the Obama administration to curb pollutants blamed for global warming by cutting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by nearly a third over the next 15 years.

New EPA Regulation To Cut Emissions From Coal-Fired Plants In US
New EPA Regulation To Cut Emissions From Coal-Fired Plants In US (Mark Wilson, Getty Images)

"These goals will not only mean a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases, but a 25 percent reduction in other pollutants like nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide. That's why these rules are so important. New Jersey has done a lot to reduce those pollutants, but other states around us have not, so it'll actually make it easier for people in New Jersey to breathe," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

The plan will also do more than just reduce pollution according to Tittel.  "Reducing carbon emissions will also create jobs in renewable energy, energy efficiency, building offshore wind and restoring our solar programs to the top where they used to be."

The measure also moves the deadline for state compliance to early 2017.  New Jersey already has the tools to comply, but whether they will be used remains to be seen according to Tittel.

"The Governor can return us to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which would reduce pollution and create jobs. We can also stop raiding hundreds of millions of dollars out of the clean energy fund that's supposed to go toward energy efficiency programs. The offshore wind rules that have been delayed can go forward," Tittel said.

Initially, Obama wanted each state to submit their plans for cutting pollution to meet the new targets by June 2016. But details of the new proposal show that states could have until 2018 if they join with other states to tackle the problem. That means even if the rules survive legal and other challenges, the dust won't likely settle on this transformation until well into the next administration, raising the possibility that political dynamics in either Congress or the White House could alter the rule's course.

"This problem is so enormous that we have to dramatically change the way that we produce energy in the United States," said State Senator Bob Smith. "What these rules do is dramatically stimulate alternate energy sources, ways in which the states can reduce their emissions. This is the first step in an enormous journey to reduce carbon emissions and try to take some control of the global climate change."

Assemblyman Dan Benson said the new rules will improve health for New Jersey residents and help the state address the issues of pollution from outside the state's borders.


 The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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