Another Perspective: Hoosiers should welcome new coal rule

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(Anderson) Herald Bulletin

With the Hoosier state ranked third in the nation in the amount of coal it burns overall and to generate electricity, Hoosiers should welcome a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule that could help set the state on the path to sustainable energy.

The proposed rule seeks to ensure pollution sources act as “good neighbors” to downwind states by tightening restrictions on emissions that increase the amount of smog there. The rule would reduce nitrogen dioxide budgets for fossil fuel-fired power plants in Indiana and 24 other states beginning in 2023.

Nitrogen dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants would be reduced by 20%, and emissions from other industrial sources would be cut by 15%. Officials have published the proposal in the federal register and will accept public comments through June 6.

In February, EPA administrator Michael Regan signed the proposed plan, designed to ensure that the states do not “significantly contribute to problems attaining and maintaining the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards in downwind states.”

The proposal comes as energy producers move to put the Hoosier state on a path toward sustainable energy while reducing coal-powered energy. Coal fueled 53% of Indiana’s electricity net generation in 2020.

Of course, air pollution doesn’t respect state borders, so something ought to be in place to ensure that states don’t end up having to clean up their neighbors’ messes.

As Tim Maloney, senior policy director for the Hoosier Environmental Council, said, “Other states that are experiencing the impacts of downwind pollution should have some remedy for the sources of pollution affecting them being addressed.”

If states are to be held accountable for the pollution they produce, that accountability shouldn’t end when that pollution drifts into neighboring states.

Barry Sneed, public information officer for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, said in an email, “Clearly, if implemented as proposed, the rule would result in air quality improvements in Indiana and reduce the impact that Indiana has on its neighboring states.”

Also, the proposed rule would further incentivize power companies to double down on alternative forms of energy.

If this rule is implemented, perhaps in a few years, Indiana will be among the states leading the way in clean renewable energy rather than coal consumption. That would be a change worth celebrating.

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