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DNR holds meetings to discuss new carbon regulations

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Wisconsin's D-N-R has already met with officials in neighboring states, on how they can work together to meet the federal government's new order to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. The E-P-A said yesterday that Wisconsin would have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 34-percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The proposed national reduction is 30-percent, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Wisconsin's target is about in the middle of the pack.

A public comment period will take place before the E-P-A finalizes its rule next June.

Officials say Wisconsin is near the halfway point in meeting the E-P-A's requirement -- and the biggest challenge now is to get utilities to reduce emissions from their coal-fired power plants. The D-N-R says it plans to meet with utility leaders.

The Wisconsin Public Service utility says it's too early to say what this all means -- since nothing's required before at least 2017. Federal officials say states will be given a lot of flexibility in meeting their targets.

Utilities are expected to convert coal-fired plants to natural gas -- with greater use of things like solar power and wind energy farms. Wisconsin lacks wind assets, but former D-N-R Secretary Matt Frank tells the Journal Sentinel that the state has other ways to cut its emissions. Among other things, he notes that the state's forests emit large amounts of carbons -- and they can be tapped as part of cap-and-trade agreements which provides credits for off-setting emissions.