On Friday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to create carbon dioxide (CO2) emission regulatory standards for future fossil fuel power plants in the United States as part of President Barack Obama’s sweeping plan to combat climate change through the reduction of carbon pollution and through a greater national reliance on cleaner methods of energy generation.
The EPA plan focuses on future gas-fired and coal-fired power plants; it does not address standards on existing power plants. Specific limits to new large and small gas-fired plants are 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour and 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, respectively. Meanwhile, the proposal limits new coal-fired power plants to 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour with the option to average this emission limit over several years at the cost of needing to meet tougher restrictions over the course of the time period.
According to the Washington Post, present average CO2 output for gas-fired plants is 800 to 850 pounds per megawatt-hour while the present average for coal-fired plants is 1,768 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour.
The press release from the EPA noted that approximately one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are generated by power plants; presently there are no national CO2 emission regulations for power plants.
The EPA will work with local, state and tribal governments in order to implement the proposed regulations.
The EPA is presently working on the creation of carbon emission standards for existing power plants and the agency expects to release the proposal for those regulations on June 1, 2014.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy remarked about the proposed standards, “Climate change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time. By taking commonsense 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.
“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,” she added.
President Obama initially announced his plan to combat climate change in June in a speech at Georgetown University.