EPA Proposes Restrictions on CO2 Emissions from New Power Plants
September 23, 2013  //  By:   //  Blog Post, Featured  //  No Comment

As a part of President Barack Obama’s plan to combat climate change, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed Clean Air Act standards on September 20th, 2013 to cut carbon pollution from new power plants. The proposed regulations are the first component of the President’s Climate Action Plan to be set forward, and they represent a major step in efforts to limit the carbon footprint of America’s energy sector.

“Climate change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time.  By taking commonsense action to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, we can slow the effects of climate change and fulfill our obligation to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our children,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said. “These standards will also spark the innovation we need to build the next generation of power plants, helping grow a more sustainable clean energy economy.”

The standards would set limits for any newly constructed power plants. Gas-fired turbines would be restricted to 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. New coal-fired units would be limited to 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, though with some flexibility in how those emissions are distributed.

Power plants are the largest source of CO2 emissions in the U.S., accounting for roughly one third of domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Despite their well established connection to climate change, currently there are no national limits on the amount of carbon pollution new power plants can emit. In 2009, the EPA determined that greenhouse gas pollution constitutes a threat to Americans’ health and the environment, and is subject to regulation under authority recognized by the Supreme Court in 2007. The new regulations are the first step in a broader plan to limit emissions from both new and existing power plants. The EPA will issue proposed standards for existing power plants by June 1st, 2014.

The agency is currently seeking comment and information on the proposal. EPA’s comment period will be open for 60 days. More information on the standards is available on the EPA’s website. For more information on President Obama’s Climate Action plan, click here. And for an audio message on the announcement from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, click here.

About the Author :

Daniel Zaleznik is a Research Associate for the Center for Governance and Sustainability, and a Masters student in International Relations at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He graduated in 2008 from Vanderbilt University with his B.A. in Philosophy.

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