EPA Presents Rules for New Power Plants in US

New Power plants

New Power plants

The Environmental Protection Agency urged to limit greenhouse-gas emissions from new power plants, the biggest source of carbon dioxide that linked to climate change.

The Obama administration plans to take a major step to combat climate change. The EPA plans to unveil its proposal to cap the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. Reports suggests the rules would direct that recently built, coal fired plants meet pollution standards by installing new technology to capture and bury emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is directly linked to climate change. Coal powered plants require costly carbon-cutting technology.

Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency will announce the proposed regulations at the National Press Club. The rules will permit emissions from modern power plants at 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, which is about the level for a new natural-gas plant. Industry officials say in an average the advanced coal plant at present discharges about 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide in an hour.

“New power plants, both natural gas and coal-fired, can minimize their carbon emissions by taking advantage of modern technologies,” Ms. McCarthy will say today, according to her prepared remarks. “Simply put, these standards represent the cleanest standards we’ve put forth for new natural gas plants and new coal plants.”
The rule would only apply to construction of new plants. Lisa Jackson, administrator of the EPA, said the administration has no plans to put forth rules that might affect the existing plants. The proposal also would relieve 15 plants with pending construction permits, and arrange leeway for new coal plants to phase in the expensive carbon dioxide capture technology over the next 30 years. The plants building controls to adhere with other EPA pollution rules would also not be required to subject to this standard.

The initial impact would be minimal as utilities are not being built, rather they are closing coal plants because natural gas prices are at 10-year low. According to the US Energy Information Administration in Washington, the share of coal in electricity generation sank way below 40 per cent by the end of 2011, it is the lowest since 1978.
According to the EPA existing power plants are responsible for 40 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions and one-third of domestic greenhouse gas emissions overall.

The coal industry has termed the proposal as “war on coal” by the Obama administration and Democrats.  They argue, the new proposed rules will make it financially unfeasible to build new coal-fired power plants and will expel coal as fuel source for future generators. Lawsuits are expected to challenge the new rules.  A letter from 221 lawmakers to the White House this year asked that the rule be terminated, and the EPA put forth two sets of standards last year targeting other pollution from coal plants.

The coal industry is under stress to remain pertinent at a time when there is public outcry about the climate crisis which has reached an all-time high and the price of natural gas has dropped because of the recent gas rush.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz promised a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that the new proposed rules do not indicate the end of coal in America. “And in terms of existing facilities, coal will continue to represent a significant source of energy for decades to come,” McCarthy said.

However, America’s plant’s continues to emit carbon dioxide into the air without any federal limits. Most of the pollution comes from a maniple of plants. There are huge numbers of power plants all over the country, but in the year 2011 half of all carbon emissions came from the 100 coal-burning facilities, according to the latest reports by Environment America, which also extends support to the new EPA rules.

Jay Raol

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