Obama proposes cuts in power plant C02 emissions to tackle climate change
The EPA spoke of the health and other benefits of reining in climate change through reduced C02 emissions, while utility industry officials decry a 'war on coal' that will cost jobs and raise electric rates.
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That trend is expected to continue, with natural gas-fired plants accounting for 60 percent of capacity additions between 2011 and 2035, EIA found. Coal is expected to account for seven percent. Utilities have already shuttered about 12 percent of the nation’s coal-fired generating fleet since 2010, according to M.J. Bradley & Associates, an environmental consulting firm in Concord, Mass. Most, the study said, are "small, old, and lack advanced pollution control equipment."Skip to next paragraph
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Over the next three years, utilities plan to build only eight new coal-fired generators compared with 91 new gas-fired generators, according to the EIA. Even so, an estimated 9 gigawatts of new coal power – about 15 average-sized plants – are expected to come online between now and 2040, the federal government reports, which is why the new rules are needed, environmentalists say.
Administration officials have steadfastly denied the claim that the White House is waging a “war on coal,” as industry groups have charged.
"No discussion of US energy security and reducing global CO2 emissions is complete without talking about coal – and the technologies that will allow us to use this resource more efficiently and with fewer greenhouse gas emissions," Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in remarks released by the agency during his July visit to the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown, W.Va.
Critics say standards prevent building new coal plants
In his visit, Secretary Moniz cited $6 billion in federal spending on CCS technologies. But critics aren’t buying such arguments.
“The new proposal sets a separate standard for coal-based units and requires the use of carbon capture and storage technology, which is neither adequately demonstrated nor economically feasible,” Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, a trade group representing large investor-owned utilities, said in a statement. “As proposed, this rule would hinder efforts to develop cost-effective CCS – a critical technology for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions going forward – because it effectively prevents the building of new clean coal plants.”
Opposition extended beyond the utility sector.
“It is clear that the EPA is continuing to move forward with a strategy that will write off our huge, secure, affordable coal resources by essentially outlawing the construction of new coal plants,” US Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Bruce Josten said in a statement.
Environmentalists, however, were elated. After seeing their hopes dashed for comprehensive climate legislation during Obama’s first term, Friday’s move represented what they fully expect to be an even more significant and daunting next step – to regulate emissions of the nation’s existing coal-fired power plants.
In fact, there are clear signs the administration has greenhouse gas emissions of existing power plants right in the EPA’s crosshairs. Buried in its press release, the EPA noted without fanfare that the Obama administration is moving ahead with a proposed rule to limit carbon from existing power plants by June 2014 and finalize it the year after.
“We are committed to acting on existing power plants as well,” McCarthy told reporters in a speech at the National Press Club today.