The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed on Thursday new standards on carbon emissions from coal and natural gas-fired power plants as the Biden Administration continues with its efforts to decarbonize the economy and the grids.
EPA proposes to establish emission guidelines for large, frequently used existing fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines, generally natural gas-fired, as well as to strengthen the current New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for newly built fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines.
The proposal limiting how much greenhouse gases fossil fuel power plants can emit would mean that plants currently not complying with the proposed limits would either have to shut down or install new equipment to curb emissions.
According to EPA, the proposal for coal and new natural gas power plants would avoid up to 617 million metric tons of total carbon dioxide (CO2) through 2042. This would be equivalent to reducing the annual emissions of 137 million passenger vehicles, roughly half the cars in the United States. EPA has also estimated that the net climate and health benefits of the standards on new gas and existing coal-fired power plants could be up to $85 billion through 2042.
"EPA's proposal relies on proven, readily available technologies to limit carbon pollution and seizes the momentum already underway in the power sector to move toward a cleaner future," said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.
White House climate advisor Ali Zaidi told reporters, "When you look at what is in the rule and what is proposed we are absolutely in line with the president's goal," referring to the Administration's target to have a carbon-free power grid by 2035.
The EPA proposal is a second attempt from the agency to set limits on emissions from power plants.
Last year, the Supreme Court limited EPA's authority to set standards on greenhouse gas emissions for existing power plants. The court ruled that EPA cannot impose a system-wide shift to renewables and that only Congress, not the agency, has the authority to create a cap-and-trade system of regulations to limit pollution.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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