HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WJZ) –A key ingredient in global warming is now a key target for the Obama administration.

Alex DeMetrick reports the Environmental Protection Agency is ordering states to clean up their power plants to reduce carbon dioxide pollution.

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Electricity that lights the world at night takes energy to make. And most of the United States’ power plants burn coal to generate that power.

What can’t be seen from the smoke stacks is carbon dioxide gas or CO-2. For more than a century it’s been building up in the atmosphere, trapping heat like a greenhouse. That’s a major driver of global warming.

“The most costly thing we can do is nothing,” said Gina McCarthy, EPA Secretary.

So under President Obama’s orders, the EPA announced something will be done.

He’s ordering states to reduce carbon pollution by 30 percent by 2030, with plans in place by 2018.

But in the Northeast, there has already been a 40 percent reduction in CO-2 emissions.

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Seven years ago, Maryland signed onto that regional agreement for a specific reason: the state’s vulnerability to sea level rise and storm surges from a warmer climate.

“This is a big threat to our way of life,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley.

“We’ve been regulating greenhouse gas emission, CO-2 emissions, from our power sector since 2009. We are pretty much ahead of the game,” said Kathy Kinsey, Maryland Department of the Environment deputy secretary.

And what Maryland and the other Northeast states are doing could be a template for the rest of the country.

“The glue that holds this plan together and the key to making it work is that each state’s goals is tailored to its own circumstances,” McCarthy said.

Wells tapping into new reserves of cleaner burning natural gas will help, but converting from coal or finding cleaner ways to burn it will still cost billions.

The EPA says costs of reducing carbon emissions will be offset by an increase in renewable energy sources.

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