Power Plant Carbon Emissions Limits Proposed
New large gas-fired power plants would be limited to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt hour and new small gas-fired turbines to 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour under the EPAâ€™s proposed Clean Air Act standards to cut carbon pollution proposed today.
New coal-fired units would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour, and would have the option to meet a somewhat tighter limit if they choose to average emissions over multiple years, according to the proposed regulations, announced at the National Press Club by EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.
The EPA will issue proposed standards for existing power plants by June 1, 2014.
Power plants are the largest concentrated source of emissions in the US, together accounting for about one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA.
Todayâ€™s proposed regulations will ensure that new power plants are built with available clean technology to limit carbon pollution, according to the agency. Additionally, the standards provide flexibility by allowing sources to phase in the use of some of these technologies, and they ensure that future power plants use cleaner energy technologies such as efficient natural gas, advanced coal technology, nuclear power, and renewable energy like wind and solar.
The Department of Energy pledged to work with energy companies to increase power plant efficiency, promote technologies such as carbon capture, utilization and storage, and deploy more clean energy, according to a statement by energy secretary Ernest Moniz on the carbon pollution standards. DOE is also working to encourage the growth of advanced fossil energy technologies through a new process for $8 billion in loan guarantees for projects that avoid, reduce, or sequester air pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions.
The power plant limits are a major part of President Obamaâ€™s Climate Action Plan, announced in June.
As expected, environmental groups hailed the proposed carbon rules as an important step toward reducing pollution. Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said they will protect people and the environment from air pollution while strengthening the economy with clean energy jobs.
Analysis released by the Natural Resources Defense Council and business groups Small Business Majority and the BlueGreen Alliance in June found the US can cut carbon pollution from power plants while creating at least 210,000 jobs. The analysis also says a carbon standard would reduce energy bills by about $.90 per month.
The coal industry, on the other hand, attacked the power plant rules. National Mining Association (NMA) president and CEO Hal Quinn called them risky and said they will lead to higher utility bills and â€śsignificantâ€ť job loses. â€śThe EPA is recklessly gambling with the nation’s energy and economic future,â€ť Quinn said.
The National Association of Manufacturers called the rules a “double whammy,” on manufacturers and called on Congress to set limits on the how the EPA uses the Clean Air ACt to regulate greenhouse gases. Manufacturers will be hit twice by the power plant regulations, as energy users and as industries “next in line to receive similar regulations from EPA for their own plants,” NAM president and CEO Jay Timmons said.
Once published in the Federal Register, the new CO2 rules will face a 60-day public comment period and likely court challenges.
Photo Credit: Alan Stark via Flickr
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