Where a repeal of the EPA's Clean Power Plan would leave Minnesota

Here's where that would leave Minnesota and its renewable energy goals.
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The Clean Power Plan – an Obama White House initiative to lower greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. – is going up in smoke.

Scott Pruitt, current head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said Monday he'll start the process to repeal the Clean Power Plan, CNN reports.

Pruitt was in Kentucky, speaking to coal miners there, and said his EPA will publish the new proposal to undo the Obama-era regulation Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.

Trump in March signed an executive order that, in part, ordered the EPA to review the Clean Power Plan. This announcement from Pruitt is a result of that review. And apparently, they found the regulations burdensome..

"When you think about the Clean Power Plan, it wasn't about regulating to make things regular," said Pruitt on Monday, according to ABC News. "It was truly about regulating to pick winners and losers and they interpreted the best system of emission reduction is generating electricity not using fossil fuels." 

A leak of the repeal, obtained and shared by CNN, argues the Clean Power Plan "exceeds" the EPA's authority.

There will be a public comment period after the repeal process is started, so it will not take effect immediately.

Where does this leave Minnesota?

Former President Barack Obama signed the Clean Power Plan in August of 2015. 

It set broad goals for each state regarding the amount of carbon emissions coming from power plants, ThinkProgress explains. Each state had some flexibility with how to reach those goals – here is Minnesota's outline.

Nationwide, the ultimate hope was to reduce carbon emissions by 32 percent by the year 2030.

As of early 2016, Minnesota had made significant progress. The state said renewables accounted for 21 percent of the total energy generated in Minnesota – putting the state well ahead of schedule to reach its goals.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has repeatedly said that, no matter what happens to the federal Clean Power Plan, the state will work toward its own clean energy goals – specifically the Next Generation Energy Act, which calls for 25 percent of Minnesota's energy to come form renewable sources by 2025.

The governor's office teamed with state lawmakers – both Republicans and Democrats – to propose even more ambitious goals. But it didn't end up getting voted on.

“Even as the Trump Administration seeks to roll back a decade of hard-fought progress, Minnesota will not flinch," Dayton said in March. "We will show the nation what can be achieved by working together to solve the challenges facing our people, our economy, and our environment. We will share best practices with other states, and work with them to mitigate the damaging impacts of the President’s dangerous and divisive policies.”

And Minnesota's largest utility, Xcel Energy, is also on board.

After the 2016 election, Xcel said its goal to produce 40 percent of energy from renewal sources by 2030 is unchanged. You can read our previous story about the company's plans here.

The simple reason for pushing its renewable investments is that in the long-term, renewable energy and cleaner burning natural gas are expected to be more cost efficient than dirtier fuels like coal and oil.

Xcel recently announced ambitious plans to build a new wind farm by 2021, which when complete would give the company enough wind energy in its portfolio to power every home in Minnesota.

However, without a federal mandate to meet, there would be much less serious immediate consequences if Minnesota's renewable plans were to change.

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