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In his letter to the Tribune, “EPA’s plan isn’t feasible,” Hal Neff joins with state officials, politicians, utility representatives, and others to fiercely decry the federal agency’s Clean Power Plan proposal. One would think that the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to reduce carbon emissions is an all-out attack on the state’s economy and workforce. I don’t see it that way.

Because of the EPA’s past efforts, we’re all breathing cleaner air and drinking cleaner water. Additional EPA efforts have cleaned up hazardous waste sites, eliminated lead-based paint, banned the use of DDT, banned the dumping of sewage sludge into our oceans and coastal waters, significantly reduced vehicle emissions, and many other things that have benefited our health and welfare. These weren’t done through the goodness of private companies or, in most cases, by state health agencies, because there is always that pressure to not impact industries and the jobs they provide.

Instead of these immediate reactions of outrage to the proposed Clean Power Plan, why don’t we take a more proactive approach and do the things we can do to move us forward in the effort to reduce harmful emissions and address climate change?

For example, there is much more that we can do in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy. This year again, North Dakota ranks dead last — 51st out of 50 states and the District of Columbia — in state programs and policies related to energy efficiency. There is simply no excuse for that. And in approximately 13 years, we’ve seen nearly 2,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity installed throughout the state. We have the potential for continued renewable energy development including wind, solar and geothermal energy.

In place of continuous scare tactics, let’s hope that state and utility officials seriously consider innovative and necessary approaches to reducing harmful emissions.

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