Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania IMG: via Shutterstock.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a hearing earlier this month about the groundbreaking proposal it originally rolled out in June. While environmentalists are ecstatic about the limits to greenhouse gases included in the proposal, skeptics say it will kill many jobs and drive up electric rates. North Carolina’s environmental agency is one of those skeptics, and has raised equity and legal concerns in response to the plan.

If the proposed plan were carried out, North Carolina’s power plants would have to reduce emission rates by 44 percent by 2030. The state would not get credit for those initiatives under the proposal and would have to reduce emissions more sharply than coal states.

In Pittsburgh, about 5,000 union members, led by the United Mine Workers of America, marched to the William S. Moorhead Federal Building chanting for the EPA to not take their jobs away. Pennsylvania is another state that has expressed concern over the plan because of how it will impact the economy, job market, and the environment.

Also in Pittsburgh, more than 135 individuals spoke at Thursday’s hearing, with similar numbers of people scheduled to speak Friday. John Pippy, chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, the industry trade organization, said the proposed rules are “an attempt to transform the American energy supply away from coal.”

“While the change from an energy system entrenched for 200 years seems daunting, the consequences of continuing this pattern of energy use are surely devastating both to the atmosphere and to the fresh water system, for us and especially for our children and their grandchildren”, said Patricia DeMarco, a visiting researcher at Carnegie Mellon University’s Green Sciences Institute, as the hearings first witness.

The plan won’t be finalized until June 15th, 2015 and there are expected legal challenges with electric power, coal industry and some states which could delay the actual implementation for years.