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Utah Joins States Seeking To Halt EPA Emissions Rule

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A power plant.

A proposed Environmental Protection Agency emissions rule has been put on hold by the Supreme Court. 24 states, including Utah, asked the Court to block the enforcement of the new rule pending various legal challenges.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan sought a drop of 32 percent in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 2030. While it is a significant part of President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda, the proposal has received criticism from labor unions. Dale Cox, President of the Utah AFL-CIO, said that the regulation has already cost jobs in the state.

“This is something that I’ve spoken about quite a lot. If we had spent as much money developing clean coal technology in the past 20 years as we have trying to shut down coal mines, we would have saved a lot of jobs,” Cox said. “We would have saved an industry and we would have clean air (or cleaner air) and we would also have a dependable power grid.”

Federal circuit courts are expected to hear arguments in the various challenges this summer. Cox said that he hopes jobs in other trades will put out-of-work miners back into employment, but added that there is still uncertainty about job growth.

“I just don’t have a good grip on what the future brings as far as replacing those jobs. Hopefully, we can retrain the coal miners and their families in other high-tech industries,” he said. “I hope that industry comes in to the state and into the country where we can back-fill those jobs and still earn a living. History hasn’t proven that out so we’ll just have to see what happens.”

The Supreme Court voted five to four to block the rule’s enforcement.