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The federal government is proposing that Florida cut its carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 38 percent by the year 2030.


Ledyard King and Maureen Groppe, June 3, 2014.


WASHINGTON – Florida's power plants would have to significantly reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 2030, under a proposal the Obama administration announced Monday.


The draft environmental rule, a top domestic goal of the administration, is the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's climate change initiative.


Power plants are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., generating about 38 percent of heat-trapping gases. Florida is considered by some to be among states most at risk from threats posed by climate change, such as increasingly severe hurricanes, worsening floods and scorching summers.


Under the proposal, power plants in Florida would have 16 years to achieve a 38.3-percent reduction in carbon emissions per megawatt hour of electricity. But states would have some flexibility in determining how exactly to reach the target.


Florida officials could require utilities to retrofit coal-fired plants to make them more efficient. They could mandate greater use of cleaner-burning natural gas. They could create a cap-and-trade system that would allow utilities to buy and sell carbon credits among power generators in Florida or with those in other states.


They also could implement a renewable energy requirement that would mandate a certain portion of the state's energy come from cleaner sources such as solar or wind power. Florida is one of a handful of states without a renewable energy standard.


The Sunshine State ranks second (behind Texas) in carbon dioxide emitted by power plants: 116.3 million tons in 2013, according to the EPA. About 21 percent of the state's energy production comes from coal, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.


EPA officials said Florida's plants produced 1,200 pounds of carbon pollution per megawatt hour of electricity in 2012. The EPA wants that brought down to 740 pounds by 2030, a reduction of 38 percent.


The Environmental Protection Agency said it took into account each state's energy mix before setting state-specific goals.


"We don't have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said. "Our action will sharpen America's competitive edge, spur innovation and create jobs."