Idaho ordered to cut power-plant pollutions

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Obama administration announced Monday that Idaho will have to cut its carbon pollutants by a third over the next 15 years.

The new standard is part of national initiative aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants from their 2005 level.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Idaho's power sector emitted 1 million metric tons of carbon in 2012 and produced 4 million megawatt hours of energy. This means that the state's emission rate was about 340 pounds per megawatt hours.

The EPA proposed that Idaho reduce its rate to 228 pounds per megawatt hours or by 32 percent.

Idaho has no coal plants but consumes coal-produced energy from nearby states. According to the EPA, most of Idaho's energy comes from renewable sources.

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, criticized the new rules, saying that the EPA had turned "blind eye" on the American people.

"In spite of the fact that the American people have rejected this type of new energy tax time and again, the EPA has chosen to impose severe hikes in energy costs, less reliable energy, and continued job losses on them instead," said Simpson, who chairs the House interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, in a statement.

Officials with Idaho Power, the state's largest utility company, were still reviewing the 645-page proposed rule report Monday. However, spokesman Brad Bowlin said that the company takes environmental stewardship and compliance "very seriously."

Idaho Power currently co-owns coal plants in Nevada, Wyoming and Oregon.

Bowlin also added that the utilities company had already voluntarily reduced its carbon emissions by 15 percent from 2005 levels and has extended that goal through 2015.

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