Federal Environmental Protection Agency officials introduced a proposed rule Monday that would reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. by one-third in the next 16 years. The potential reduction in carbon emissions could vary significantly between states. The initial draft would mandate North Carolina cut carbon emissions 40-percent by 2030. That figure is based on last year's amount of pollution.
North Carolina gets more than half its power from coal. The vast majority of that is produced by Duke Energy - the nation's largest electricity provider.
"You know, obviously Duke will participate in the rule-making process. Again keep in my mind it's a proposed rule. The final rule is not due out until June of next year," said Spokesman Chad Eaton, adding that the company is reviewing the 645-page EPA proposal.
Eaton says Duke will approach emission reduction plans differently depending on the state.
Meanwhile, it's not clear how state legislators will respond to the EPA's proposal.
Pricey Harrison is a Democrat in the State House. She expects this to become a political issue.
"This is not going to be warmly embraced by the Republicans," Harrison said. "My perspective is we don't really have a choice; this is something that is fairly urgent and hopefully the education of our citizenry and our legislators will press that point home."
Several Republican state lawmakers have disputed the existence of climate change. At least one conservative group said this change would hurt the economy and job growth. The standard for reduction could vary significantly by state. This initial proposal would call on North Carolina to have an implementation plan by 2016 and begin showing improvement over a 10-year period.