The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
EPA Proposes Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants
Used with permission of NRDC - Switchboard
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking another important step forward today to protect Americans’ health and well-being from the carbon pollution that is driving dangerous climate change.
Today, EPA is expected to propose the first national limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new electric power plants.
Doctors, nurses, scientists and other experts tell us that carbon pollution imposes staggering health costs. It causes more severe heat waves and worsens smog pollution, which triggers more asthma attacks and other serious respiratory illnesses. It contributes to increasingly extreme weather, including more devastating storms and floods, rising sea levels and many other threats to life, limb and property. See what EPA and the nation’s top public health organizations say by clicking here and here.
Power plants are the nation’s largest source of dangerous carbon pollution. More than 1,500 power plants across the country release a whopping 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year. (Check out how much pollution comes from your nearby power plants by clicking here.)
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set standards that assure new power plants are as clean as can be, and to start cutting dangerous carbon pollution from the existing fleet of power plants, too. The Supreme Court found that it’s EPA’s job under the Clean Air Act to curb power plants’ carbon pollution. Two years ago, EPA agreed to enforce these legal requirements by setting standards for both new and existing plants.
The “new source performance standard” to be proposed today is a critical step towards cleaning up and modernizing our power plant fleet. Each new plant will need to meet a specified emissions rate that is technically feasible and economically reasonable. The next step will be to set standards to cut carbon pollution from the aging fleet of existing plants.
America’s power companies have the tools they need to meet the standard announced today. The Department of Energy, utility executives and industry analysts all forecast that the nation’s needs for new electricity supplies over the next decade will be met by a combination of natural gas plants, renewables such as wind and solar, and possibly nuclear energy—all of which can meet the standard.
Power companies also can meet this standard with coal-fired plants that use carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. A few years ago, it looked like there would be a boom in new coal plant construction. But nearly all of those proposals died on the drawing boards. Today’s utility companies will tell you that they aren’t planning to build new coal plants, largely due to the availability of low-cost natural gas, strong growth in wind and solar power and big opportunities to improve energy efficiency. The new standard reinforces what most power company executives and investors already understand—that carbon pollution and climate change are serious concerns, and that if and when new coal plants make a comeback, they will need to be designed with CCS.
The standard being proposed today is another important step that EPA has taken under President Obama to clean up and modernize the nation’s two most polluting sectors—the power plants that provide our electricity, and the motor vehicles that move us around.
- EPA set standards last year to cut mercury, soot and smog pollution from old power plants, saving tens of thousands of lives and preventing hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks, heart attacks and hospital visits.
- And EPA and the Transportation Department have jointly set standards for new cars and light trucks. By 2025 new vehicles will average nearly 55 miles per gallon and spew out only half the carbon pollution of the cars most of us own now. Those standards will save consumers thousands of dollars at the pump, and are helping bring back America’s auto industry. They are America’s best defense against high gas prices.
Today’s action, of course, is only a proposal and not yet a sure thing. Factions of the coal and power industries, together with climate-change-denier groups and ultra-conservative politicians, will try to derail EPA’s new standard. So it’s critical that concerned citizens step up to voice their support for cleaning up power plants, in the public comment period and public hearings later this spring.
You can click here to send EPA a message of support. Tell EPA that you support its standards to cut the carbon pollution from America’s new power plants. And urge EPA to act swiftly to cut the dangerous carbon pollution coming from our existing power plants too.
To read the Natural Resource Defense Council's official press release on the new carbon pollution standards, click here.
For more information, click here.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Charli Shield
At unsettling times like the coronavirus outbreak, it might feel like things are very much out of your control. Most routines have been thrown into disarray and the future, as far as the experts tell us, is far from certain.
By Elizabeth Henderson
Farmworkers, farmers and their organizations around the country have been singing the same tune for years on the urgent need for immigration reform. That harmony turns to discord as soon as you get down to details on how to get it done, what to include and what compromises you are willing to make. Case in point: the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), which passed in the House of Representatives on Dec. 11, 2019, by a vote of 260-165. The Senate received the bill the next day and referred it to the Committee on the Judiciary, where it remains. Two hundred and fifty agriculture and labor groups signed on to the United Farm Workers' (UFW) call for support for H.R. 5038. UFW President Arturo Rodriguez rejoiced:
By Julia Conley
A council representing more than 800,000 doctors across the U.S. signed a letter Friday imploring President Donald Trump to reverse his call for businesses to reopen by April 12, warning that the president's flouting of the guidance of public health experts could jeopardize the health of millions of Americans and throw hospitals into even more chaos as they fight the coronavirus pandemic.
By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Over six gallons of water are required to produce one gallon of wine. "Irrigation, sprays, and frost protection all [used in winemaking] require a lot of water," explained winemaker and sommelier Keith Wallace, who's also a professor and the founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia, the largest independent wine school in the U.S. And water waste is just the start of the climate-ruining inefficiencies commonplace in the wine industry. Sustainably speaking, climate change could be problematic for your favorite glass of wine.