The EPA Proposes Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants

As we all know, the government is currently shutdown. But, once those 700,000 federal employees are back to their regular grind, things will pick up right where they left off (well, we hope). So, we’re digging into the EPA’s proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants.

On September 20th, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed carbon-pollution standards for future coal and natural gas power plants. This was the EPA’s first step in moving forward on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan announced this past June. Currently, about one third of all greenhouse gas pollution in the U.S. comes from electricity generation at power plants.

When presenting the EPA’s proposal, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy commented “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.”

The EPA’s proposal sets forth the first uniform national limit on the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants could be allowed to emit. With the proposal’s standards, new coal plants would have to produce 40 percent less carbon pollution than the best-performing plants in use today. These standards would guarantee a reliance of other forms of advanced technologies such as partial carbon capture and storage (CCS), cleaner power plants, and a continued reliance on renewables like wind and solar

In the Clean Air Act, Congress recognized that it would be more effective to build emissions requirements for new sources of energy rather than for existing sources. Therefore, the EPA’s recent proposal focuses only on new power plant production. The EPA is still likely to develop standards for facilities that are currently operating as well. However, such restrictions are not likely to be as stringent as those for new facilities. Plans for currently operating power plants will be set through federal-state partnerships that will include both federal guidelines and state plans for implementing any changes.

Not only should this proposal initiate cleaner energy production, but also one of its greatest aspects is that according to the EPA, these new standards are not expected to have notable costs because they are in line with current industry investment patterns. Additionally, these new standards are not projected to impact electricity prices or reliability.

Clean Currents is excited to see the EPA start to respond to the President’s Climate Action Plan. This proposal will not only protect public health, but it will also address climate change while ensuring reliable, affordable, and clean power for American businesses and families.