Metro

Power generators contest state greenhouse gas rules

Associated Press/File

The region’s fossil fuel industry is contesting carbon emission caps that took effect in Massachusetts this month, arguing the rules are unfair to power plants that use oil and natural gas to produce power.

In a motion filed in Suffolk Superior Court Tuesday, the New England Power Generators Association and the owner of the Canal Generating Plant on Cape Cod sought to rescind the state restrictions, calling them “arbitrary and capricious.”

The Baker administration established the emission caps after the Supreme Judicial Court ordered the state to set specific limits to comply with the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act. That law requires the state to cut its greenhouse gases 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below that threshold by 2050.

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Under the new limits, nearly 90 percent of emissions reductions will come from the electricity sector, even though the state’s power plants have already reduced emissions by 60 percent since 1990, far more than any other sector, said Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association.

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While the regulations might reduce emissions in Massachusetts, they could backfire by causing electricity production to be diverted to less-efficient power plants outside the state that might use more-polluting energy sources, such as coal or oil, Dolan has said.

“These regulations are simply the wrong way forward,” he said. “The new power plant regulation in Massachusetts will stop an in-state facility from operating, causing the electricity to be imported from less-efficient facilities out of state, raising emissions and costs.”

“It simply cannot be the case that in implementing the Global Warming Solutions Act, Massachusetts plans to make the global emissions problem worse,” he added. “And yet, that is exactly what we fear is happening.”

Administration officials declined to comment on the filing. But state energy and environmental officials said the state is “committed to a balanced and diverse energy portfolio that ensures a clean, affordable, and resilient energy future for Massachusetts, while achieving carbon reduction goals.”

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They also noted that the administration has responded to previous concerns raised by the fossil fuel industry.

State officials have previously noted that the power industry has taken the brunt of previous emissions’ cuts, as they used to be the largest source of carbon emissions.

In recent months, state officials have been considering options to reduce emissions at a greater rate from the transportation sector of the economy, which now accounts for about 40 percent of the state’s emissions.

David Abel can be reached at dabel@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @davabel.