[US] EPA unveils updated draft greenhouse gas emission limits for new power plants.

The EPA has published an updated proposed rule limiting GHG emissions from new power plants, slightly amending the September 20, 2013 version published last year.  The rule, which is similar to the September 2013 version, sets separate carbon pollution standards for natural gas-fired turbines and coal-fired units and requires the implantation of CCS technology.  The updated rule likely comes in response to attacks by the GOP and the coal industry that argue that the requirement that coal plants implement CCS technology violates the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

Industry and GOP lawmakers argue that CCS technology is not yet able to be implemented on a commercial scale.  Pursuant to the Energy Policy Act, emission standards must be able to be met through “adequately demonstrated” technologies, and the EPA is prohibited from relying too much on government sponsored projects.  In the September 2013 proposed rule, the EPA cited three projects that established the commercial viability of CCS technology.  GOP lawmakers and the coal industry struck back, claiming those three projects were heavily subsidized by the government, and thus should not be included in any evaluation as to whether CCS technology has been “adequately demonstrated.”

The updated rule published on Wednesday, January 8, 2014, differs little from the September 2013 rule, which is being withdrawn, and is seen by GOP lawmakers as simply strengthening the rule in the face of the inevitable litigation that will follow.

Sources:

EPA Updated Proposed Rule Limiting GHG Emissions from New Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, Federal Register, 79 FR 1429, January 8, 2014(https://federalregister.gov/a/2013-28668)

Jason Loh, EPA releases its proposed carbon pollution standard for new power plants, Red-on-line USA, September 21, 2013

Laura Barron-Lopez, EPA Publishes emissions rule to GOP’s dismay, The Hill, January 8, 2014 (http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/194865-epa-publishes-emissions-rule-for-new-plants-to-gops-dismay

Red-on-line EHS Legal Counsel