The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced new proposed standards for carbon pollution from new, not yet built power plants. These standards are an important step to cutting our carbon emissions, mitigating the worst effects of climate change, and transitioning to a clean energy economy that will create jobs. We need business leaders to speak out in support of these standards.
Last September, as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the EPA announced updated carbon standards for new coal and natural gas-fired power plants. Coal plants will be subject to a limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon per megawatt hour, and natural gas plants will be limited to 1,000 pounds per megawatt hour. This standard would mirror earlier EPA efforts to regulate power plant pollutants like soot and mercury under the Clean Air Act. They would not, however, apply to existing power plants; It is anticipated that a separate rulemaking for existing power plants will come next year.
What's At Stake:
ASBC applauds the proposed standards on coal; coal plants are the single largest of carbon emissions in the United States, according to EPA data. Currently, coal plants emit about 1,700 pounds of carbon per megawatt hour, and it is unlikely they will be able to meet the new standard, giving us more incentive to transition to cleaner, renewable energy, which is a far better job creator than fossil fuel projects.
The 60-day public comment period on the EPA’s proposed pollution standards for new power plants officially kicked off January 8. The EPA has since extended it to May 9. ASBC continues to collect public comments, which we will forward to the EPA.
In most cases, agencies have about one year to finalize regulations. The standards for currently operating plants (e.g., Section 111d of the Clean Air Act) are set through a federal-state partnership that includes federal guidelines and state plans to set and implement performance standards.
The EPA must finalize standards for new plants first (under section 111b of the Clean Air Act) before finalizing those for existing plants (Section 111d). President Obama’s deadline for final standards on existing plants is June 1, 2015. States will have to submit their plans for implementing the standards one year after that.