The head of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality believes the state cannot meet ambitious new federal carbon pollution regulations. Some are calling on state lawmakers to resist following the new federal rules.
In late 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency released a new set of rules that would require the state to drop its current carbon output...which is 1130 pounds per kilowatt hour of electricity...to just under 700 pounds.
Speaking before a joint hearing of the House and Senate energy committees, Department of Environmental Quality director Gary Rikard says the rule would cause a huge spike in energy prices.
"We are fundamentally against the rule. We have looked at it. We can't meet it the way it is written now," Rikard said.
Rikard asked lawmakers to pass a resolution opposing the regulations and to move slowly before attempting to comply with them.
Former EPA official turned critic Dr. David Schnare also called on lawmakers to put on the brakes, saying it's federal overreach of local control.
"Its very clear that the legislature needs to protect its own interest. It is the public utilities commission that decides what rates are going to be and what fuels are going to be used. It's DEQ's responsibility to decide what kind of permits need to be applied to a coal-fired or natural gas power plant. Those are things you don't want to give up," Schnare said.
Mississippi gets 13 percent of its total electricity from coal power plants.
Supporters and the Obama administration say the new carbon pollution rules are well within the EPA's regulatory authority.
Additionally, they say the rules are tailored to each state and necessary to slow the effects of global climate change.