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The Daily Tar Heel

NC residents discuss federal plan to reduce carbon emissions

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan, announced in June, targets power plants and is projected to reduce carbon emissions’ 2005 levels by 30 percent in the United States by 2030.

Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, a subsidiary of the advocacy organization Clean Air Carolina, hosted the state’s only citizens’ hearing to support the EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standards.

“It’s creating a strategy around which a community can have a conversation, which has been lacking,” said the Rev. Richard Edens of the United Church of Chapel Hill, where the event was hosted.

Citizens’ hearings are being held all over the country, and comments can also be provided on the EPA website. A stenographer was present at the North Carolina meeting to record testimonies, which will be sent to the EPA.

States have flexibility in how their individual plans will be implemented, and the comment period will be open until Oct. 16 for citizens to provide their input.

Each state was provided with different goals in the Clean Power Plan based on a number of factors, including the renewable energy potential of the state and how much energy in the state is already renewable.

The implementation of the states’ goals — when it will happen, who will enforce the standards — is up to the individual state, and citizen testimonies will be taken into consideration by the EPA.

The Clean Power Plan has received the largest number of public comments for any federal ruling in history, said Susannah Tuttle, director of North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light, an environmental advocacy group.

At the hearing, concerns came from professors, medical professionals and political and religious leaders alike about the state of the air quality in North Carolina, the United States and the world.

“We are really aware of the importance of good policy (in North Carolina),” said North Carolina House Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, at the event.

North Carolina is ranked second in the nation for solar energy use and has the second longest coastline on the eastern seaboard, said Robert Bruck, professor of environmental science at Louisburg College.

The U.S. has 13,000 megawatts of solar energy available for use — enough to power 2.2 million homes, said David Salvesen, deputy director of UNC’s Center for Sustainable Community Design, part of the Institute for the Environment.

“The fact is that North Carolina should be a leader,” Bruck said. “We should not be riding behind, and that word has to get to the (N.C.) General Assembly.”

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