The new proposed Clean Air Act standards from EPA to cut carbon pollution from new power plants are designed to combat climate change and improve public health. The agency received more than 2.5 million comments on the proposed standards.
EPA also has initiated broad-based outreach and direct engagement with state, tribal and local governments; industry and labor leaders; non-profits and others to establish carbon pollution standards for existing power plants and build on state efforts to move toward a cleaner power sector.
“Climate change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “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.”
She said the hope is that the new Clean Air standards http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards will spark the innovation needed to build the next generation of power plants, helping grow a more sustainable clean energy economy.
“Reducing carbon pollution will increase private investment in clean energy and drive job growth,” said Nicole Lederer, a co-founder of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a nationwide network of business leaders and investors. “This announcement sends a clear and welcome market signal to businesses, entrepreneurs and investors that will encourage energy technology innovation all across America.”
Under the proposal, 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.
EPA expects new power plants to be built with available clean technology to limit carbon pollution, a requirement that is in line with investments in clean energy technologies that already are 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.
“The draft regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency regarding emissions from newly-constructed power plants threaten economic growth and America’s energy future,” said International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Edwin D. Hill. “The new rules would in effect stop the construction of new coal-fired power plants in the United States by enforcing emission-reduction goals that just aren’t realistic using today’s technology for carbon capture and sequestration.”
Power plants are the largest concentrated source of emissions in the United States, together accounting for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, 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.