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EPA: Softening the Blow for Coal Industry?

coalToday saw the publication of the EPA’s long-awaited carbon standards for new power plants, and that’s not all: it’s also been confirmed that the Department of Energy will revive a clean energy loan guarantee program, controversial for bankrolling several failed start-ups such as Solyndra.

This time, however, the program comes with a new spin: it will devote up to $8 billion to help industries such as coal and oil create cleaner energy, the New York Times reports.

The timing can hardly be a coincidence: as the Obama administration launches standards that Republicans have repeatedly attacked as part of a “war on coal,” the DOE is also extending an olive branch to that same industry. In effect, it’s trying to argue that coal doesn’t necessarily have to (only) be the problem – it can also be part of the solution.

Today’s carbon standards announcement is also notable for differing slightly from predictions. New coal-fired units would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour – not much above the 1,000 pounds set for large natural gas plants, and significantly below the 1,300-1,400 pounds a source told the Washington Post to expect.

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