EPA Sets First Limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency issued the first limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.

“Today we’re taking a common-sense step to reduce pollution in our air, protect the planet for our children, and move us into a new era of American energy,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in a statement announcing the limits. “Right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be able to put into our skies – and the health and economic threats of a changing climate continue to grow.”

This rule has been years in the making and was approved by the White House after months of review.  The rule 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 which could essentially end the construction of conventional coal-fired facilities in the United States.

The rule provides an exception for coal plants that are already permitted and beginning construction within a year. There are about 20 coal plants pursuing permits; two of them would meet the new standard with advanced pollution controls.  The proposal does not cover existing plants.