EPA at last minute announces May 24 CO2 standard hearings

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said May 21 that it will hold two public hearings on May 24 on the proposed carbon pollution standard for new power plants.

The proposed standard would help minimize carbon pollution through the deployment of the same types of modern technologies and steps that power companies are already taking to build the next generation of power plants, EPA said. Currently, there is no uniform national limit on the amount of carbon pollution new power plants can emit.

The standard, proposed in April, would set a CO2 limit for future power plants at around the rate of CO2 emitted from a basis natural-gas-fired plant, forcing any new coal plants to install CO2-emissions controls if they hope to get built.

One of the hearings is in Washington, DC, while the other will be held in Chicago. EPA also will accept written comments on the proposed standards until June 25, which is an extension of the prior comment deadline.

EPA, in a move first promised on March 27, in the April 13 Federal Register officially proposed new source performance standards for emissions of CO2 for new affected fossil fuel-fired electric utility generating units (EGUs).

“The EPA is proposing these requirements because CO2 is a greenhouse gas (GHG) and fossil fuel fired power plants are the country’s largest stationary source emitters of GHGs,” the notice said. “The EPA in 2009 found that by causing or contributing to climate change, GHGs endanger both the public health and the public welfare of current and future generations. The proposed requirements, which are strictly limited to new sources, would require new fossil fuel-fired EGUs greater than 25 megawatt electric (MWe) to meet an output-based standard of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour (lb CO2/MWh), based on the performance of widely used natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) technology.”

Opposition to the March 27 EPA initial announcement of these proposed rules was voiced swiftly by industry and by top Republicans on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Those Republican committee leaders said in a statement that the proposal would add to the “tangle of regulatory red tape” already imposed by other new rules affecting electric utilities, effectively forming a “backdoor energy tax” on families and businesses.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.