On September 20, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed standards on carbon pollution from new power plants. In addition to this proposal, the EPA is also initiating engagement with state, tribal and local government, industry and labor leaders, non-profits, and others to create carbon pollution standards for existing power plants. The proposed standards stem from a portion of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan entitled “Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards”.
According to the EPA press release, the proposal states that “new large natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 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 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, giving those units additional operational flexibility”.
The goal of the standards is to “ensure that new power plants are built with available clean technology to limit carbon pollution, a requirement that is in line with investments in clean energy technologies that are already being made in the power industry. Additionally, these standards provide flexibility by allowing sources to phase in the use of some of these technologies, and they ensure that the power plants of the future use cleaner energy technologies — such as efficient natural gas, advanced coal technology, nuclear power, and renewable energy like wind and solar”.
This proposal is expected to receive a large number of comments. The comment period is open for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
“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.”
More information on the proposed standards can be found here.