HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — The federal government's new plan for reducing pollutants blamed for global warming recognizes the value of steps Maryland has already taken, Gov. Martin O'Malley said Monday in congratulating President Barack Obama for what he called bold leadership on climate change.
O'Malley said in a statement that Maryland is taking strong action to reduce pollution, including the power-plant carbon dioxide emissions targeted by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The proposal aims to reduce carbon emissions nationally by 30 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. A complex regulatory process would allow each state to decide how to meet customized targets set by the EPA, and then submit those plans for approval.
A market-based regulatory approach undertaken by Maryland and eight other Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states has already reduced their total carbon emissions by 40 percent since 2005, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative said. The proposed EPA rule recognizes such programs and would give participating states credit for taking early action.
O'Malley said the regional initiative is a key part of Maryland's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide from power plants, "and we are pleased to see the federal proposal recognize the value of a regional approach."
The EPA proposal sets a goal for reducing Maryland's 2012 emission rate — the amount of pollution emitted per unit of generated power — by about 37 percent by 2030. Because of the complexity of the proposed regulation, it's not clear how much Maryland would have to cut emissions, said state Department of the Environment spokeswoman Samantha Kappalman.
"There is significant number-crunching that has to happen in order to give a precise determination of the 2030 EPA goal for Maryland," she wrote in an email.
The rule could further diminish the role of coal as a power-plant fuel since burning coal produces more carbon emissions than burning natural gas.
Maryland Coal Association Executive Director Adrienne Ottaviani said the federal government wants to eliminate coal as an energy source.
The EPA predicted that coal would remain a leading source of electricity, providing more than 30 percent of the projected U.S. supply, down from about 40 percent currently.