The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will for the first time begin regulating carbon dioxide emissions from new coal- and natural gas-fired power plant sunder the Clean Air Act, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced. Speaking in Washington, McCarthy said, “Climate change is real, human activities are fueling that change, and we must take action to avoid the most devastating consequences.”
The EPA regulations, which the coal industry vows to challenge in court, will require new coal plants to emit fewer than 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, considerably lower than the average 1,800 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour currently produced by coal-fired power plants. Such limits would require the new plants to deploy carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which has not been used on a wide scale.
The difficulty of using CCS technology will be at the heart of lawsuits challenging the EPA move, coal industry officials say. McCarthy said Friday that the EPA will announce CO2 limits next June on existing coal-fired power plants.
McCarthy’s announcement marks the first major move by the Obama administration since the president unveiled a new climate action plan in June. Obama’s Republican opponents in Congress have accused him of waging a “war on coal” and have vowed to stop the EPA regulations, but the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled in 2007 that the EPA did have the right to regulate CO2 emissions as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.