Indiana is one of 27 states suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce the country’s carbon emissions. That case got its day before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington on Tuesday.
The Clean Power Plan would require power plants nationwide to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The goal is for states to adopt cleaner sources of energy production, such as natural gas, wind, solar or nuclear, and to transition away from more carbon-intense sources, like coal.
Carbon dioxide is powerful greenhouse gas responsible for human-induced climate change, so reducing carbon emissions is key to slowing that change down.
But eighty percent of the energy produced by Indiana comes from coal.
“If the rule is upheld, then it has potential to significantly decrease the amount of coal which is produced in the state of Indiana,” says Indiana Coal Coalition President Bruce Stevens.
Although many of the state’s utilities, like NIPSCO and Indianapolis Power and Light, are already transitioning away from coal, says Jodi Perras, who manages the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.
“The Clean Power Plan is part of that transition we need to make,” Perras says.
The Supreme Court blocked implementation of the Clean Power Plan earlier this year. States are not currently required to submit plans to the EPA on how they would meet their emissions targets — but many states have anyway.
Indiana is not one of them. But Perras hopes the state’s next governor will start the process.
“Plan for a transition of our economy,” Perras says. “Plan for coal miners to transition to new forms of work and help coal country along. Plan for energy efficiency, which can help keep our bills affordable as the transition takes place.”
If that transition does take place, the Coal Coalition’s Bruce Stevens says Indiana will be in a tough spot.
“We’re in it for the long haul in Indiana with coal, simply because we don’t have access to natural gas, like some of the other states have,” he says. “And coal is mined locally – therefore, the costs are significantly cheaper. We still are the most affordable energy source that the state of Indiana has.”
A decision from the federal appeals court isn’t expected until after the November election, and that decision is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.