EPA Announces New Carbon Pollution Standards

, By Clean Wisconsin

MADISON — Similar to an initial carbon standard released last year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new draft today that creates separate standards for new coal- and gas-fired power plants.

“If this rule is adopted, the result will be very similar and will basically ensure that no new power plants will be built that release unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air,” said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director for Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “These regulations are critical to protect our children’s health and those industries in the state that are hit hardest by carbon pollution, including agriculture and tourism.”

Under the new rules, which will take a year to finalize, future coal plants cannot emit more than 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour; the current U.S. coal plant average is 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour. New gas-fired plants would be limited to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour. These standards would make it difficult to build new coal-fired power plants that do not capture carbon emissions, but they would still allow the construction of plants that burn cleaner fuels, such as natural gas.

“We have an obligation to protect our children and future generations from climate change by addressing the causes and impacts, including carbon pollution,” said Reopelle. “We look forward to sitting down with EPA and the state’s utilities to discuss the most beneficial and cost-effective ways to meet such a standard.  The good news is there are many options in our toolbox to reduce carbon pollution in the power sector.”