New Rules Harshly Affect Coal Industry

Late last year, we told you about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new carbon pollution standards and how they are expected to affect power plants.

Aerial of Power StationTo summarize, the EPA proposed standards in September 2013 intended to reduce carbon pollution for new power plants in an effort to fight climate change and improve public health. The proposal comes as part of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which is focused on cutting carbon pollution.

These are the standards originally proposed for new power plants: large natural gas-fired turbines must meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour; small natural gas-fired turbines must meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour; and coal-fired units must meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour.

The intent of the standards is to ensure new power plants are built with clean technologies that limit carbon pollution. But the standards are coming under fire from some organizations.

Opponents say the carbon dioxide limits will require power plants to use carbon-capture technology, an expensive technology that requires burying the carbon and may have safety risks. Many in opposition also argue the proposal comes with impossible standards that will eliminate coal from the energy options.

The American Coal Council (ACC) says the new standards essentially prohibit new plants from using coal as a power source. And about 300 coal-fired generating units located throughout 33 states are expected to shut down due to the EPA’s proposed regulations, according to the Daily American.

Since the proposal was announced last year, the EPA has held public listening sessions to give stakeholders a chance to share their ideas about how to reduce carbon pollution. These sessions were intended to help the EPA develop the standards.

The new coal rules, expected to go into effect in January 2015, will make a major impact on the economy, leading to a rise in energy prices and a loss of jobs, according to an article in the The Hill. Because the US uses coal for about 40% of its electric generation and the coal industry provides about 800,000 jobs, according to the ACC, the coal industry may be harshly affected by the EPA’s rules.

You can learn more about the proposal here.

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