The Washington Post reported this evening that the Obama administration plans to propose the first nationwide standard to reduce carbon dioxide pollution from new power plants:
“The Environmental Protection Agency will issue the first limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants as early as Tuesday, according to several people briefed on the proposal. The move could end the construction of new conventional coal-fired facilities in the United States.”
Under the standard, a new coal fired power plant would need to have carbon pollution levels 43% lower than current plants, which would most likely require some sort of carbon capture and storage technology. The typical new natural gas fired power plant could meet the standard without additional controls.
Once finalized, the “new source performance standard” for new power plants will ensure that utilities begin to employ more efficient, cleaner power generation systems. Although coal will continue to generate electricity in existing plants, it is clear that future electricity generation will rely much more on new technologies, including wind, solar, and other renewable sources. The proposed rule will further expand the market for such carbon-pollution-free electricity generation, which had already been growing steadily because of sharp declines in cost.
The new vehicle fuel economy standards and states’ renewable electricity (or portfolio) standards both drove investments in innovative technologies that protect public health by reducing pollution, and create jobs from the development and manufacturing of cleaner, more efficient technologies. These first-of-a-kind carbon pollution reduction standards should have a similar effect on the electricity industry.
This is the third major executive action launched by the Obama administration to reduce carbon pollution. The first two established two rounds of carbon pollution reductions from vehicle tailpipes, and will “eliminate 6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution.” With this proposal, the administration is tackling power plant pollution, the other major source of climate change pollution in the United States. With growing evidence that the serious impacts of climate change are already here, President Obama deserves credit for this new standard. We must urgently adopt and implement these new pollution reduction standards for power plants. Continue reading more…