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EPA formally publishes proposed emission standards for new power plants despite stakeholder concerns

January 8, 2014 by CaliforniaCarbon.info

CaliforniaCarbon.info, 08 January 2014: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally published its proposed emission intensity standards for new coal and gas-based power plants in the country. The standards were first presented by the agency in September 2013, but had not been published in the Federal Register till now.

The proposed standards are now open for public comment till March 10, 2014, but the EPA has advised that comments be submitted by February 7, 2014 for the Office of Management and Budget to consider them.

The publication of the proposed standards has come as a bit of a surprise, given the amount of state-level opposition it has faced and the fact that broad consensus over the fundamental achievability of the new source-specific targets through enhanced carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.

John Pippy, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance, has expressed his reservations.

“The proposal would preclude the construction of new coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania and across the country.  The result would be higher electricity prices for businesses and consumers, a less reliable electric grid and the elimination of thousands of family-sustaining jobs, not just in the coal industry but across all sectors of the economy,” he has stated.

The CEO and President of the National Mining Association (NMA), Hal Quinn, was similarly negative.

“The proposal effectively bans coal from America’s power portfolio by conditioning new power generation on the use of unproven technologies,” he has said.

The proposal has, however, received support from environmentalist quarters. The Environmental Defense Fund has openly welcomed the publication of the proposal, calling it a “a big step forward toward getting some common-sense limits on the carbon pollution that causes climate change.”

In the text published in the Federal Register, the EPA has reiterated that the Clean Air Act gives it the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from the power plants. The EPA also elaborated on the data and methodology used for determining the proposed standards.

The EPA held 11 public meetings across the country following the initial release of the proposal in September 2013. The agency plans to seek public comment again in 2014. The formal public proposal in the Federal Registry does not, however, seem to have been modified on the basis of the comments received during the public hearing sessions held in late 2013.

The proposal published in the Federal Register also has some useful information for compliance entities. The EPA has tried to clarify how the power plants would be required to measure and report their emission intensity data, and how they could demonstrate compliance with the new standards.

For more information about this article, mail to: contact@californiacarbon.info 

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