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EPA head defends power plant regulations in visit to Wyoming

EPA Administrator Michael Regan (right) listens to a presentation at the University of Wyoming.
Suraj Singareddy
/
Wyoming Public Media
EPA Administrator Michael Regan (right) listens to a presentation at the University of Wyoming.

News brief: 

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency defended a proposal to limit power plant emissions in a recent visit to Wyoming.

Administrator Michael Regan said the new standards would reduce air pollution and climate-warming greenhouse gasses. He also responded to recent criticism from conservative-leaning leaders of western states.

The EPA wants coal- and gas-fired power plants to eliminate nearly all of their carbon dioxide emissions by 2035. This would be a major step forward for the Biden Administration’s climate goals. Only the transportation sector emits more than power plants.

“We need to do all that we can to control pollution, but also, the president views it as an opportunity to invest in new technologies,” Regan said.

During his Wyoming visit, Regan toured carbon capture and storage research facilities in the state. The federal government is investing heavily in this technology and says it will be a major part of pollution control efforts.

For a state like Wyoming that depends a lot on fossil fuels, Regan said innovations that keep coal, oil and gas viable will be important during the transition to low-emissions energy, along with investments in renewables like wind and solar.

“We're really looking around the corner and thinking about how we diversify in a way that doesn't kill any one industry, but diversifies in a way that keeps this country globally competitive,” Regan said.

Still, conservative officials in the West have been critical of the EPA’s proposal. Thirty-eight senators are calling on the agency to withdraw the standards, and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has criticized them as heavy-handed and harmful to communities linked to the fossil fuel industry.

The rules are still being considered at the federal level and could face future lawsuits.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Will Walkey is a contributing journalist and former reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. Through 2023, Will was WPR's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.
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