Tuesday, September 24, 2013

EPA's New Carbon Limits for Power Plants

Carbon limits are being proposed on power plants On September 20th, 2013, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy announced that the EPA has put forth a new proposal that will curtail climate change causing emissions from power plants. Future coal and gas power plants will each have their own standards for natural.

Despite the intransigence of Republicans in Congress, President Obama is using his executive powers to combat the climate crisis. This proposal comes in response to the President’s June 25, 2013 Memorandum to EPA on “Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards,” which is a major part of the President’s Climate Action Plan.

The proposed Clean Air Act standards will cut carbon pollution from new power plants that will both combat climate change and improve public health. The EPA has also reached out to state, tribal, and local governments, industry and labor leaders, non-profits, and others to establish carbon pollution standards for existing power plants by June 1, 2014.

This new EPA proposal is of great importance to address climate change as power plants are the largest source of emissions in the US accounting for around one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

The proposed new rules would impose the following limits
  • New large natural gas-fired turbines: 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour 
  • New small natural gas-fired turbines: 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. 
  • New coal-fired units: 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, with an option to meet a somewhat tighter limit if they choose to average emissions over multiple years, giving those units additional operational flexibility.
This proposal provides a powerful impetus for power plants of the future to use cleaner energy technologies including renewable energy like wind and solar.

The EPA announcement will dovetail with state efforts. Nearly a dozen states have already implemented or are implementing their own market-based programs to reduce carbon pollution. In addition, more than 25 states have set energy efficiency targets, and more than 35 have set renewable energy targets.

The EPA’s comment period will be open for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. In a separate action, EPA is rescinding the April 2012 proposal.

This new power plant proposal combined with the rest of the President's Climate Action Plan are putting the US on track to go from being a laggard on efforts to combat climate change to a global leader.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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