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Governor praises climate change plan

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Wilmington, Del. — Governor Jack Markell endorsed President Obama’s plan to reduce greenhouse emissions from power plants by more than 30 percent by 2030, the most aggressive action taken by the nation to date in its efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change with the co-benefit of improving the country’s air quality and Delaware’s in particular.

Officials said the state will also benefit from the cleaning up of pollutants generated by other states that often intrude into Delaware’s environment.

The final Clean Power Plan was announced by the President and US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. Markell welcomed McCarthy to Delaware last year, soon after EPA made its initial proposal, to highlight Delaware as a model for showing states can reduce power plant pollution while growing the economy.

“By setting ambitious but reachable goals, while allowing flexibility for the public and private sectors to work together on the right solutions for each state, this effort represents exactly the right approach to control emissions from power plants and aggressively address climate change” said Markell. “It’s the same approach that worked in Delaware when we reduced dirty emissions faster than any other state through a combination of shutting down, fuel-switching, and installing pollution controls at our power plants, as well as focusing on investments in energy efficiency and deployment of renewables.

EPA released its final rule after more than a year of receiving public comment and making changes to the initial proposal in response to concerns that were voiced. Markell noted that Delaware, as a low lying coastal state, is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate and has seen first-hand the damage from extreme weather events — coastal storms, excessive rainfall, and flooding.

The rule allows states to participate in regional emission reduction programs such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), of which Delaware is a member along with eight other mid-Atlantic and New England states. The program requires power plants to obtain credits to offset greenhouse gas emissions.

Funds generated from the sale of the credits are used by the state and the Sustainable Energy Utility to reinvest in energy efficiency efforts and the deployment of renewable energy. Delaware’s use of solar energy has increased approximately 300 percent since 2008 and continued participation in RGGI is expected to be a major factor in the state’s ability to comply with the plan.

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