EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, "Today we're taking a common-sense step to reduce pollution in our air, protect the planet for our children, and move us into a new era of American energy. Right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be able to put into our skies -- and the health and economic threats of a changing climate continue to grow. We're putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American made technology to tackle a challenge that we can't leave to our kids and grandkids."
Currently, there is no uniform national limit on the amount of carbon pollution new power plants can emit. As a direct result of the Supreme Court's 2007 ruling, EPA in 2009 determined that greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans' health and welfare by leading to long lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment.
EPA indicated that the proposed standard is flexible and would help minimize carbon pollution through the deployment of the same types of modern technologies and steps that power companies are already taking to build the next generation of power plants. EPA said its proposal is in line with these investments and will ensure that this progress toward a cleaner, safer and more modern power sector continues. The proposed standards can be met by a range of power facilities burning different fossil fuels, including natural gas technologies that are already widespread, as well as coal with technologies to reduce carbon emissions. EPA said that, "Even without today's action, the power plants that are currently projected to be built going forward would already comply with the standard. As a result, EPA does not project additional cost for industry to comply with this standard."
EPA said that prior to developing this standard, it engaged in an extensive and open public process to gather the latest information to aid in developing a carbon pollution standard for new power plants. The Agency is seeking additional comment and information, including public hearings, and will take that input fully into account as it completes the rulemaking process. EPA's comment period will be open for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.
"While highly efficient natural gas-fired power plants would meet the standard proposed today, new coal-fired power plants not already in the pipeline could likely meet the standard only by capturing and permanently sequestering their greenhouse gas emissions. This underscores the urgency of stronger public and private investment in carbon capture and storage technologies. The United States, China and India -- the world's three largest greenhouse gas emitters -- all have substantial coal reserves. If we can't figure out how to get the energy value out of coal with a minimal carbon footprint, we will not solve the climate problem. With prospects for substantial public investment in CCS unclear, C2ES is now working with policymakers and stakeholders on ways to expand enhanced oil recovery using captured carbon dioxide -- an approach that can boost domestic oil production, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help lay the groundwork for full-scale carbon capture and storage."
"We commend EPA for this step to advance the Administration's commitment to reduce U.S. emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Today's announcement follows the Administration's introduction of historic standards for light-duty vehicles in November 2011. Moving forward, it will be important for EPA to address carbon emissions for existing power plants as well. Existing plants represent a significant opportunity to improve efficiency and reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. We can achieve these reductions at low cost while providing power plants flexibility in complying with them."
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