President Obama said the new EPA rules were in line with his mandate to address the climate change problem by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, noted in his State of the Union speech – and in a major policy speech in June.
“Today, we build on that progress by proposing common-sense standards that will begin to put an end to the limitless release of carbon pollution from our power plants, creating cleaner air and a healthier environment for our children and for future generations,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.
The move, he said, would build on existing trends in states and cities already requiring cleaner energy sources – including power companies shifting to cleaner technologies to generate electricity. Nearly a dozen states have already implemented or are implementing their own market-based programs to reduce carbon pollution, the EPA reported, and 25 states have set energy efficiency targets with 35 having set renewable energy targets.
Today, the two dominant sources of electricity are coal-fired power plants and natural gas-fired turbine plants. Under the new EPA proposal, newly built large natural gas-fired turbines would be required to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new but smaller natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour.
A typical advanced coal plant today emits about 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per hour compared with natural gas plants that emit around 800 pounds on average – less than the proposed new standards.
But a new coal-fired power plant would have to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. The new rules include an option to meet an average emissions standard over multiple years, a phase-in period intended to give power plant operators added flexibility meeting the requirement.