Policy: Environment & Energy

EPA coal regulations published in Federal Register

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,EPA,Ashe Schow,Gina McCarthy,Energy and Environment,Coal

Environmental Protection Agency regulations regarding carbon dioxide emissions for new coal plants were published in the Federal Register Wednesday - three and a half months after the EPA issued the rules.

The new coal regulations would limit carbon emissions for newly built coal plants to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour for large coal plants and 1,100 pounds per megawatt hour for smaller plants. Considering the average emissions from existing coal plants is currently 1,800 pounds per megawatt hour, the new rules will likely be tough to meet.

The rule was first proposed on April 13, 2012, but after 2.5 million comments and further EPA consideration, the rule was withdrawn, rewritten and reintroduced on Sept. 20.

The new coal regulations make building new coal plants incredibly difficult, something then-candidate Barack Obama wanted when he proposed his cap-and-trade policy during the 2008 election.

The official reason for the regulation is to reduce carbon emissions, but the EPA admits that the proposed rule won't have an impact on those emissions.

“The EPA does not anticipate that this proposed rule will result in notable CO2 emission changes, energy impacts, monetized benefits, costs, or economic impacts by 2022,” the EPA wrote in the comments section of the final rule.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted to Congress that the rule was not about reducing emissions, but pushing the U.S. to emerge as a leader on global warming initiatives.

McCarthy said that the regulations position the U.S. for “leadership on this issue, and that will prompt and leverage international discussions and actions.”

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