EPA Places Emission Restrictions On Power Plants For The First Time

In a first, the EPA will now place emission restrictions on fossil fuel power plants. Announcement of the new limits came Friday from the White House, following promises made by President Obama in June to curb power plant pollution. Critics were quick to express their outrage at the news, with some calling the new Obama-lead policies a “war on coal.” Members of the coal industry have already promised to bring lawsuits against the new restrictions.

The new restrictions, when enacted, will require large gas-fired turbines to not pass 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, according to Reuters. The newer, smaller natural gas-fired turbines will be limited to 1,100 pounds of CO2 per MWh. Newer coal-based plants will also face a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per MWh, but will be allowed “operational flexibility.”

This is because coal-fired power plants, unlike their gas-based brothers, cannot reach the EPA’s new emission restrictions without the use of expensive technology. On top of this, the technology is unproven, with no commercial coal-fired plant yet using the technology, USA Today reports. However, two of these plants are being built right now, one in Canada’s Saskatchewan Province and one in Mississippi. More of this type of coal plants are planned for Texas and Illinois.

Opponents of the new emission restrictions say the EPA cannot legally require businesses to use technology unproven commercially. Some critics claim this is also part of an attack on the US coal industry. They say the proposed limits will lead to coal plant closures and higher electric bills for consumers.

Responding to these claims, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy believes the new limits won’t kill coal, saying that instead it “sets out a path forward” for the industry. McCarthy promises that the new standards can be met flexibly.

Environmental groups say they are pleased with the new EPA emission restrictions, who view the announcement as a major victory.

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