Mississippi delegation attacks carbon dioxide limits

 Mississippi delegation attacks carbon dioxide limits

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - All members of Mississippi's congressional delegation say new federal carbon dioxide reduction goals are prohibitively expensive and unattainable, despite significant investments to improve air quality in the state.

They sent a letter this week to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, and the White House Office of Management and Budget asking officials to take a second look at the regulations.

"We believe Mississippi has been treated unfairly and disproportionately under the Clean Power Plan compared to the vast majority of states," the letter says, according to a news release Thursday.

The letter was signed by Republican Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson and Republican Reps. Gregg Harper, Steven Palazzo and Trent Kelly.

In June, a federal appeals court rejected challenges from states, industry and environmental groups that argued the government was being either too strict or too lenient in determining which areas satisfied federal ozone restrictions.

States, including Mississippi, argued that certain areas within their borders were violating the standard. A finding of noncompliance means states have to spend money to reduce ozone levels.

Business groups say the rules are unnecessary and would be the costliest regulation in history.

The Obama administration recently proposed emission limits on ozone of 65 to 70 parts per billion, below the existing standard of 75 that President George W. Bush put in place in 2008.

The EPA has estimated that cutting ozone emissions to 70 parts per billion would cost industry about $3.9 billion in 2025.

"Mississippi's energy production could be severely limited by the re-dispatching of generation resources to reflect a 70 percent natural gas combined cycle capacity factor. This requirement, when combined with the unattainable renewable energy and energy efficiency targets, places every coal-fired facility in Mississippi at risk of being prematurely shut down," the congressional delegation said in the letter.

The delegation said the rules ignore the investments made by Mississippi companies over several years to reduce carbon dioxide.

Ozone, the main ingredient in smog, is a powerful lung irritant that has been linked to a range of health problems. Smog is created when emissions from cars, power plants, refineries and other factories mix in sunlight and heat.

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