WASHINGTON, D.C. — Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency are expected to release proposed emissions rules for new coal-fired power plants by the end of next week and those regulations will reportedly rely heavily on still developing technologies.
Scott Segal, an attorney for the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, said the proposals for the new plants will show which direction the EPA will likely go when it comes regulating emissions from plants that are already in operation.
“The bottom line is, the EPA is taking a very, very aggressive approach. It’s, sort of, the tip of the spear for the administration’s general plans to address carbon emissions,” Segal said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Rules for existing power plants, which generated almost 40 percent of all of the electricity the U.S. used in the first half of this year, are due by next June.
The deadline for those new plant proposals is Friday, Sept. 20.
The numbers could change before the proposal is released next week, but a report in the Wall Street Journal indicated the EPA would propose an emissions limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour for new coal-fired plants and 1,000 pounds per megawatt hour for new large gas-fired plants.
In comparison, “The average coal-fired power plant in the United States (now) emits about 1,700 pounds per megawatt hour of carbon dioxide,” said Segal.
To meet the limits, power plant operators would have to invest in carbon capture technology and other methods to control emissions at new plants.
Critics said the technology that would make compliance possible, at the proposed levels, is not yet widely available, has not been tried at full commercial scales and is too expensive to make building a new coal-fired power plant economically viable.
They said, in essence, the proposals will ban new plant development.
Environmentalists and others, though, have supported the Obama Administration’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants and are backing the more stringent standards.
By 2020, President Barack Obama has said the goal is to cut carbon emissions by 17 percent compared with 2005 levels.