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John Hollenhorst ReportingA decision last week in California is being called by some a historic turning point on one of the world's most serious issues. Long-term it's intended to reduce global warming, but it may have more immediate consequences here in Utah. A power-plant opponent in Utah called the decision "the shot heard round the world."
Opponents of a proposed power plant in Sevier County have a new ally, the State of California. The California Energy Commission may have torpedoed the Utah project, as well as several other proposed coal-burning plants in Western states. Under its new anti-global-warming rules, California won't buy electricity from new plants unless they burn coal as cleanly as natural gas.
Tim Wagner, Sierra Club: "And finally, here it is, the largest economy in the nation stepping up to the plate and saying 'We have to do something and we gotta do something now.'"
A proposed expansion of the Intermountain Power Plant near Delta will not meet the new standard. But officials predict it will stay on schedule, even without California as a major customer for the new power.
Intermountain Power's Reed Searle praises the California decision, even though he's still not convinced Global Warming is really happening.
Reed Searle, Intermountain Power Agency: “There is a risk that it really could be occurring, and you can’t ignore that risk.”
Searle says there are untested coal-burning technologies that might eliminate carbon emissions. California may have just given the nation a solid push in that direction.
Reed Searle, Intermountain Power Agency: "If you get an entity like California behind this, mankind then starts devoting attention to it. And we can probably find solutions to it if there's enough drive behind it. And they certainly have stimulated that drive."
California demonstrated it's national clout decades ago when the auto industry said it would cost too much to clean up tailpipe emissions. California took the lead, imposing tough regulations that eventually became the national standard, dramatically cleaning up the air.
Environmentalists hope something similar will happen with Global Warming.
Tim Wagner, Sierra Club: “Because we’re not getting any firm direction or initiatives coming from D.C., well the states are willing to step up and take a slice of the pie. And I think it’s a very positive thing.”
One of the implications of the decision is that Californians will have to pay more for their electricity.