New EPA rule would restrict CO2 emissions from coal, gas-fired power plants
The Biden administration is proposing new limits on greenhouse gas emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants to cut back planet-warming pollution from the nation’s second-largest contributor to climate change, according to the Associated Press.
A rule to be unveiled today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could force power plants to capture smokestack emissions using a technology that has long been promised but is not in widespread use in the U.S.
If finalized, the proposed regulation would mark the first time the federal government has restricted carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, which generate about 25% of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution, second only to the transportation sector. The rule also would apply to future electric plants and would avoid up to 617 million metric tons of carbon dioxide through 2042.
Almost all the coal plants — along with large, frequently used gas-fired power plants — would have to cut or capture nearly all their carbon dioxide emissions by 2038, the EPA said. Plants that cannot meet the new standards would be forced to retire.
Coal provides about 20% of U.S. electricity, down from about 45% in 2010. Natural gas provides about 40% of U.S. electricity. The remainder comes from nuclear energy and renewables such as wind, solar, and hydropower.
The EPA rule would not mandate use of equipment to capture and store carbon emissions — a technology that is expensive and still being developed — but instead would set caps on carbon dioxide pollution that plant operators would have to meet.