- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The federal agency mandating a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fueled power plants in North Dakota is giving the state more time to submit an implementation plan.

Environmental Protection Agency officials have agreed to move the deadline from September 2016 to the fall of 2018, North Dakota’s congressional delegation said in a joint statement after meeting on Wednesday with EPA Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe.

North Dakota is among 16 states that will have to reduce carbon dioxide emissions the most under EPA rules unveiled in August by President Barack Obama. Under the new standards, North Dakota must cut its emission rate almost 45 percent by 2030.

State and industry officials have criticized the rules, saying the change will drive up the cost of electricity for ratepayers and hurt the state’s economy. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has said the state is considering a legal fight.

In the meantime, state officials now have more time to figure out how to meet the new standard, should it stand.

The one-year deadline would have been nearly impossible to meet anyway, given the complexity of bringing the state’s seven power plants into a uniform plan, Health Department Environmental Chief Dave Glatt told The Bismarck Tribune.

“We spent 10 years developing a regional haze (pollution reduction) plan, and this is a lot more complicated,” he said.

The two-year extension also will give North Dakota more time to convince federal officials that the new standard isn’t fair, said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

“This CO2 rule does not work, and we need more time to address it,” he said.

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