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New air quality rules could hit Wisconsin coal-fired power plants hard

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News) -- Wisconsin would be hit hard by a proposed federal order to cut emissions at coal-fired power plants.  

The E-P-A plans to unveil a major new proposal tomorrow, and the Badger State would be affected more than others.  That's because it relies more on coal-fired power plants, as opposed to cleaner-burning natural gas.  Milwaukee environmental attorney Mark Thimke expects a requirement to cut coal-plant emissions by 25-percent by 2030.  

U-W Green Bay professor emeritus Michael Kraft calls the new rules "the crowning achievement" of President Obama's environmental agenda.  Kraft said about 40-percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions come from coal-fired power plants -- and it would be a "big, big deal" to move away from that.  

State figures showed that Wisconsin emitted 96-million tons of greenhouse gases in 2011, and 41-percent of them were from coal-fired power plants.   State D-N-R air quality administrator Bart Sponseller says Wisconsin wants flexibility in the new regulations -- plus an assurance that the reliability of the state's electric system will not be compromised.