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Missouri governor signs carbon emissions bill

[JURIST] Missouri Governor Jay Nixon [official website] on Monday signed legislation that will allow Missouri state officials to develop carbon dioxide pollution standards that are less rigid than those mandated by federal guidelines. The signing of the bill coincided [AP report] with the release of proposed rules by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website] that would require Missouri to cut its power plants' carbon emissions by over one-fifth by 2030, though the measure was passed by state legislators before these regulations were released. Because Missouri's electricity production is heavily reliant on coal-fired power plants, legislators expressed concern that the federal guidelines would pose a great expense to electric companies attempting to comply.

The EPA has worked to regulate air pollution and its negative effects for decades. In June the agency released [JURIST report] the Clean Power Plan [materials] proposal at the direction of President Barack Obama [official website] which will, for the first time, cut carbon pollution from existing power plants in an effort to protect public health and fight climate change without blocking access to affordable power. In May the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that the EPA was justified in its decision to defer adopting new air quality standards for pollutants that contribute to acid rain. In 1990 Congress created the Acid Rain Program [EPA backgrounder], a project aimed at reducing the sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions of power plants—pollutants determined to be the principle cause of acid rain. The EPA hailed the cap-and-trade [EPA backgrounder] program as a success, its benefits having far outweighed the cost of the program according to a 2011 report by the Office of Science and Technology Policy [official website]. In March 2005 the EPA issued [JURIST report] the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) to deal with power-plant pollution that drifts between states. Also a cap-and-trade system, CAIR only applied to 27 eastern states and the District of Columbia and aimed to reduce target pollutants by 70 percent by 2015. Considered a regional version of president George W. Bush's proposed Clear Skies Act [JURIST report] legislation, which was struggling to pass through Congress, CAIR was pushed forward by the EPA.

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