New EPA greenhouse gas rule may effectively end new coal power plants


The Environmental Protection Agency is set to announce a proposed rule to strictly limit carbon emissions from new power plants, several news sources have reported.  Industry and environmentalist sources, the Washington Post reports, “say that the rule … dooms any proposal to build a coal-fired plant that does not have costly carbon controls.” The devil is in the details, as they say, and we’ll have to look closely at the proposed rule, but this looks like another step in the right direction for EPA.  And a move toward less coal in Obama’s ‘all of the above’ energy policy.

From the Washington Post (“EPA to impose first greenhouse gas limits on power plants”):

The proposed rule — years in the making and approved by the White House after months of review — will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt. …

[T]he rule …comes on the heels of tough new requirements that the Obama administration imposed on mercury emissions and cross-state pollution from utilities within the past year. …

The rule provides an exception for coal plants that are already permitted and beginning construction within a year. There are about 20 coal plants now pursuing permits; two of them are federally subsidized and would meet the new standard with advanced pollution controls. …

The EPA rule, called the New Source Performance Standard, will be subject to public comment for at least a month before being finalized, but its backers said they were confident that the White House will usher it into law before Obama’s term ends. …

From Politico (“EPA hits greenhouse gas emissions from power plants”):

Supporters of the policy say the EPA is simply locking in the current market forces that heavily favor the construction of natural gas facilities, and providing a certain path for utility investors….

The rule “reinforces what most power company executives and investors already understand — that if and when new coal plants make a comeback, they will need to be designed with carbon capture and storage,” said David Doniger, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

And supporters say it takes a necessary step to combat the dangers of climate pollution.

“Carbon pollution … causes more severe heat waves and smog pollution, which trigger more asthma attacks and other serious respiratory illnesses. It contributes to increasingly extreme weather, including more devastating storms and floods and other threats to life, limb, and property,” Doniger said.

Earlier posts:

A court victory for the evils of mountaintop removal coal mining: Arch Coal Spruce No. 1 mine permit reinstated

Still drunk on oil: Obama’s speech in Cushing

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1 Response to New EPA greenhouse gas rule may effectively end new coal power plants

  1. Anne says:

    Dave Roberts has an excellent post about this up on Grist:

    I’d say he pretty much nails it, debunking all the whining from so-called “conservatives” and even drawing from one of the best energy analysts around, Sue Tierney.

    Meanwhile, Sen. Jim Inhofe, is submitting an amendment on the Senate floor today to take away EPA jurisdiction over GHGs under the Clean Air Act. I predict it will fail but get too many votes for comfort.

    Roberts is right: Coal’s time is over.

    But, it’s a slow death. Too slow for the imperative to cut CO2.

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