The first step of Obama’s climate plan comes into motion

New US coal power plants will for the first time face national regulation.
By Anders Lorenzen

When US President Barack Obama unveiled, on 25th June, his climate plan that would see the US take action on combating climate change, one of the key policies was to limit carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.


Obama said that he would direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work with individual states and set those standards. The EPA has now moved on with one of those tasks in setting carbon pollution standards for new power plants.


In the proposal signed by EPA administrator Gina McCarthy on 20th September new large natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. New coal-fired units would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour.


Commenting on the proposal McCarthy said: “Climate change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time. By taking commonsense action to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, we can slow the effects of climate change and fulfill our obligation to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our children.” The EPA administrator also said these new standards would help grow a green economy: “These standards will also spark the innovation we need to build the next generation of power plants, helping grow a more sustainable clean energy economy.”  


But these standards have prompted coal rich states and and climate sceptic republicans declaring that this is a war on coal. But the EPA are adamant that no energy technology is closed and that the future of US energy will continue to be a mix of gas, coal, nuclear and renewables saying that those emissions reductions can work with advanced coal technology and efficient gas turbines.


Power plants are the single largest contributor to CO2 emissions in the US, combined accounting for a third of emissions. The EPA states that several states have moved on with their own carbon reductions standards, energy efficient programmes and renewable energy targets.

EPA will now start moving on setting carbon pollution for existing power plants which will be proposed on June 1st, 2014.

Sub edited by Charlotte Paton

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