When President Obama announced his plans for executive actions on the environment this past week, he focused heavily on reducing carbon emissions in electrical generating plants, especially coal-burning plants.
There are few details yet on what kind of emission standards will be forthcoming from the EPA, but as Ron Meador pointed out on MinnPost this week ("What will new climate plan mean in Minnesota? Three experts read the tea leaves") reducing carbon emissions is a lot harder than filtering ash, sulfur dioxide and other pollutants. Carbon can't easily be captured or stored. The only way to cut carbon emissions is to shut down or convert coal burning plants.
Minnesota is ahead of the curve on that issue. Our major energy utilities have already been shutting down or converting many of their coal plants to natural gas. There are wind farms in the southwest and south central portion of the state, and more are likely to be coming. The state has mandated that significant portions of the state's energy production will be from alternative sources in the years ahead.
It is hoped that these efforts will be recognized when the federal government starts clamping down on carbon emissions across the country. Any future regulations and standards should take into account what has been done up to this point.