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Indiana governor draws line in the sand against US EPA's Clean Power Plan

Drawing a firm line in the sand, Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence is threatening to not implement the US Environmental Protection Agency's controversial Clean Power Plan unless "significant changes" are made, and is urging fellow governors to follow suit.

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Pence has informed EPA that "unless the Clean Power Plan is demonstrably and significantly improved from its proposed form, Indiana will not comply," Dan Schmidt, the governor's policy director for energy and the environment, said Friday.

"Governor Pence believes the best improvement in the rule would be its complete withdrawal, and he will pursue all legal means at his disposal to oppose the rule," Schmidt added in an email.

Schmidt's comments came after Pence told reporters Thursday that the CPP poses a "genuine threat to the affordability of electricity" and, as a result, to Indiana's heavily coal-based economy. The Midwestern state still gets more than 80% of its electricity from coal.

EPA is expected to issue a final version of the CPP, aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, in August. President Barack Obama strongly supports the plan.

Pence, though, said no state "is obligated to adopt the President's agenda as their own."

In addition to Pence, several governors, including those in Texas, Wisconsin and Louisiana, have indicated they too may not implement the plan.

Neither Schmidt nor Pence spokeswoman Bridget Cleveland could say how the governor specifically intends to enlist the support of other governors in fighting the plan.

Pence, Schmidt said, "has kept a watchful eye for all opportunities to promote, protect, and advance Indiana's coal industry. In addition to opposing the Clean Power Plan, Indiana has joined 27 other states in opposing the Waters of the US rule," also proposed by EPA, "which has harmful implications for the coal industry."

Pence supports all forms of energy, including coal, natural gas and renewables, as well as nuclear and hydropower, Schmidt said, adding: "The governor favors an 'all of the above' approach to energy."

The final CPP unveiling this summer will come at a time when Indiana coal production is decreasing somewhat in 2015 following a strong year in 2014 when the state turned out 39 million st of thermal coal, according to Indiana Coal Council president Bruce Stephens.

"Our last projection is we're going to be in the 35-36 million [st] range" this year, he said.

--Bob Matyi,
--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,