EPA Releases First Clean Air Act Standard for Carbon Pollution from Power Plants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a standard for carbon pollution from new power plants, as required by the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling regarding the Clean Air Act.
This is the first Clean Air Act standard to address power plant carbon emissions. The carbon pollution standard, now open to public comment, reflects the existing move in to building plants that use clean-burning and take advantage of more efficient technologies. It also allows for the use of new technologies that will emit less carbon pollution but still burn coal. It is important to note that this standard applies only to new generating units, not those already operating, being built or that will begin construction within the next year.
Speaking about the proposal, EPA Administrator said, “Right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be able to put into our skies – and the health and economic threats of a changing climate continue to grow. We’re putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American made technology to tackle a challenge that we can’t leave to our kids and grandkids.”
The proposed standard gives a good deal of flexibility, and it can be met by facilities using a variety of methods, including natural gas technologies and coal with implementation of emissions reducing technologies. Since existing plants and those being built within the year are not subject to this standard, EPA did not project any additional cost to comply with this standard.
A number of statements from legislators, environmental and health groups and business people have been released regarding this proposal. Just a few of these are below. To read more, please visit the EPA.
Ranking Member of the US House of Representative’s Committee on Energy and Commerce, Henry A. Waxman, released the following, “The proposal is a breakthrough. It sets achievable limits on dangerous carbon pollution, spurs investments in new clean energy technologies, and provides certainty for industry. And it shows the President is listening to scientists, not extremists who deny the existence of climate change. Today’s action will reduce pollution, make families healthier, promote innovation, and help us compete with China and other countries that are investing in clean energy.”
The Sierra Club urged its member’s to send messages to EPA Administrator Jackson to urge implementation of these protections, stating “For the first time ever, the Obama Administration and the EPA are proposing national limits on carbon pollution. Carbon pollution is linked not only to climate disruption, but also to significant health hazards like the smog that triggers asthma attacks. Right now, 158 million Americans live in counties with unacceptable air pollution levels. By supporting the EPA's effort for clean air, we can make sure they go the distance and put new protections in place.”
Ralph Izzo, Chairman and CEO of Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG), released a statement, “While we would have preferred that Congress enact legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA took an important step today in addressing the significant environmental threat posed by climate change.
The Agency’s action establishes a logical and modest standard for new electric power plants and provides the industry with much needed regulatory certainty. The EPA provides a framework for the industry to confront this problem in a cost effective manner.
We understand that the EPA continues to evaluate regulatory options for already existing plants that may be affected by the Clean Air Act and we look forward to working with the Agency to evaluate the best approaches for achieving meaningful greenhouse gas reductions in as flexible and economic manner as possible.”
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