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EPA delays new carbon rule for power plants

April 12 2013

EPA has delayed the release of a final rule that would have set strict carbon emission rules for new fossil-fueled power plants, The Washington Post is reporting.

The Post quotes an EPA spokesperson as saying that the agency is still reviewing the more than two million comments it has received since the proposal was first unveiled last year.

Under the proposed rule, natural gas plants would easily be able to meet the new limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, but it will be extremely difficult for new coal-fired plants to do so without expensive modifications. This has led many experts to conclude that the proposed rule will act as a de facto ban on any new coal-fired plants being built in the future. Coal plants currently provide about 40% of the nation’s electricity and represent a major source of employment for TAUC contractors and their partners in the building trades.

Last summer, TAUC submitted comments to EPA objecting to the proposed rule, arguing that it would have a negative impact not only on our membership and the union construction industry in particular, but also on the nation as a whole. In order to meet the new standard, any new coal-fired plant would have to employ some form of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. EPA acknowledged that deployment of current CCS technologies “results in increased capital and operating costs and decreased electricity output (that is, an energy penalty), with a resulting increase in the cost of electricity. The energy penalty occurs because the CO2 capture process uses some of the energy produced from the plant.”

TAUC will keep its members informed of any new developments related to EPA’s carbon emissions rule.

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