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Virginia voices react to final Clean Power Plan rules

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia will face less stringent federal requirements for cutting emissions from its power plants, according to finalized rules announced by President Barack Obama's administration Monday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set a 2030 target of 934 pounds of carbon dioxide emitted per megawatt hour of electricity generated in Virginia, up from a more strict 810 pounds per MWH first proposed last summer. Virginia also has a less demanding interim target from 2022 to 2030 than what was first proposed.

According to the EPA, Virginia has a "moderate" goal of reducing carbon emissions compared with other states.

Reaction to the final plan in Virginia was mixed. Here's a sampling:

-Dominion Resources Inc, which owns the state's largest electric utility, said it was pleased that several of Dominion's proposed modifications, though not all, to the proposed rules had been made.

"The compliance targets for Virginia have moved in a positive direction that fairly recognizes the role of natural gas generation in reducing emissions," said Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion CEO. "The Administration missed an opportunity, however, to provide appropriate incentives to ensure the viability of the existing nuclear fleet that is critical to meeting the goals of the Clean Power Plan."

-Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe was also happy with the changes.

"Based on an initial review, it appears that EPA made positive changes to address concerns my administration and I expressed repeatedly about ensuring equity and flexibility for Virginia in developing this final rule," the governor said in a statement.

-Republican state lawmakers blasted the final rules and called on McAuliffe to delay their implementation because of the likelihood they will be challenged in court. "No area of the Commonwealth has felt the effects of the Obama-Clinton-McAuliffe war on coal more than Southwest Virginia. These regulations are another striking blow to our way of life," said Del. Terry Kilgore, a lawmaker from southwest Virginia.

-Environmental groups praised the final rules, and said the Clean Power Plan will help create jobs in addition to cleaning up the environment.

"We have the potential to attract new businesses to our states and to create thousands of good-paying, local jobs by producing power from cleaner sources like solar and wind," said Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Frank Rambo.

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