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EPA Proposes Carbon Regulations for New Power Plants

The EPA has released its first proposed Clean Air Act standard for carbon pollution from new power plants.

Under the Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants, new fossil-fuel-fired power plants must emit no more than 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. The proposed rule does not apply to existing units already operating, or units that will start construction over the next 12 months.

Writing for The Washington Post’s Wonkblog, Brad Plummer points out that most new natural-gas plants already fall under the proposed carbon threshold and as such won’t be affected. Coal plants, on the other hand, produce around 1,800 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour.

There are currently 24 new coal plants planned for construction in the next 12 months, and these will all duck the regulation. But very few coal plants are planned for construction after this time period, Plummer says. The Energy Information Administration is projecting no coal plants to come online from 2017-2035, according to Plummer.

Steve Miller, CEO and president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a coalition of power companies, has said the rule would “make it impossible to build any new coal-fueled power plants.”

But others have questioned whether the rule will make any noticeable difference.

It would be foolish to think that the rule caused this halt in coal plant building, according to David Roberts of Grist. The proposed rule is bad news for coal plants, but the main reason new plants are not getting built is because coal is getting priced out by cheap natural gas, Roberts says. He calls coal power “outmoded and uneconomic in the U.S.”

Another rule affecting existing power plants is set to be released later in the year. Roberts expects the next rule to come after the 2012 election and to include tougher regulations.

The agency had delayed the release of the long-anticipated Clean Air Act rules in June and September amid an onslaught of criticism from Republicans in Congress. In November, the EPA said it would propose the rules in early 2012.

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3 thoughts on “EPA Proposes Carbon Regulations for New Power Plants

  1. One day someone will realize how much HOT exhaust is being blown up all these chimney’s.
    Natural gas can be combusted to almost 100% efficiency. The energy in the exhaust can be recovered with the technology of Condensing Flue Gas Heat Recovery. Instead of hot exhaust COOL exhaust would be vented. And even the WATER could be recovered from this combusted natural gas.
    It is time to quit wasting all this energy!

  2. Certain cities and states suffer overhwelmingly from severe, deadly carbon pollution from plants operating in their jurisdictions. Publication and study-identified cities include Philadelphia, Memphis, New Orleans, Atlanta, Detroit, and New Jersey’s Newark and Camden. Identified states include Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, Indiana, Georgia, Texas, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Most likely the EPA will start cracking down on these mentioned mostly Liberal Democrat-runned cities and mostly conservative Republican-runned states, regardless of who’s in the White House after 2012. These standards will be direly needed to fight longtime rogue environmental crimes allowed by the above cities and states, while protecting human life, taxpayers and voters inside these identified entities.
    Spacek is Author, American State Litter Scorecard

  3. The greenhouse gas emissions thought they may be daunting on some new power plants are actually a good thing to have around. Regulation can generally be stringent and somewhat unsettling on a number of businesses however, the decision to apply them to new plants will actually save a lot of jobs and a lot of headaches. Applying these new rules to NEW plants and not those currently existing is a very smart and important move by the EPA both for regulatory practices and businesses. Too many times in the past, new rules have been a crippling factor on factories or industry that cannot meet the new standards and thusly they are forced to either cut jobs or shut down, often without replacement for the labor that was just lost (http://eng.am/wJ61AM). With this we can really begin to fix our problems and make some progress.

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