The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced sweeping new regulation that would cap the amount of carbon pollution newly built power plants would be allowed to produce.
New pollution limits would require the implementation of untested and more expensive technologies to meet the agreed upon levels. The ruling is expected to draw legal action for repeal, according to whom?.
The new regulation requires that new large natural gas power plants would be limited to producing of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new coal power plants would need to limit CO2 production to 1,100 pounds megawatt-hour.
The regulation would only be applicable to newly built gas and coal power plants and would make use of recently developed carbon capture and storage technologies that dispose of carbon by burying it deep underground.
As of yet there are no power plants in operation that make use of carbon capture and storage technologies, though one is currently being built in Mississippi. The EPA hopes that the new requirements will spur the adoption of these and other new carbon disposal technologies.
The strongest voices against the new laws are those in the coal industry, who argue that increased building costs will make them even less competitive in the face of alternative energy sources like gas and wind.
In a statement to USA Today, Jeffrey Holmstead, coal lobbyist and partner at Bracewell & Giuliani law said, “CCS has not been adequately demonstrated, it’s not met the standard EPA has used for the last 40 years” that requires new technology also be cost-effective.
But proponents of the changes say they are essential to the reduction of air pollution and will lay the groundwork for a more aggressive overhaul of emissions standards aimed at reducing carbon pollution for existing power plants, which are expected before the end of President Barrack Obama’s second term.
“Climate change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time. By taking common sense 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 in a statement. “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.”