September 20, 2013---The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) welcomes the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft rules for restricting carbon pollution from new power plants , which were released today. These rules would mark the first federal carbon emission limits on power plants, which represented 40 percent of all energy-related emissions of greenhouse gases in 2012, according to the Energy Information Administration. Most of those emissions came from coal plants.
"It is absolutely critical to address carbon emissions from power plants if we want to deal with climate change," noted EESI Executive Director Carol Werner. "These proposed rules are now subject to a 60-day public comment period. This is a time for everyone to come together to support this initiative. These rules are an important step in addressing the threats posed by climate change. They also will provide vital public health benefits across the nation and will stimulate a more technologically innovative, resilient, and competitive move to a cleaner energy economy."
The proposal provides limits on carbon emissions for new gas-fired power plants and new coal plants. There are no existing limits on carbon emissions from power plants, but on average, advanced coal plants currently emit about 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour. To meet the proposed targets, new coal plants would need to install carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology, to scrub carbon from plant emissions and store it securely underground or use it for other industrial purposes.
These new standards would also have a key added benefit. Reducing carbon emissions would result in lower emissions of arsenic, mercury and soot from power plants, which all have devastating health effects. Coal pollution alone is estimated to cause 20,000 heart attacks and 13,000 premature deaths a year in the United States.