The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new carbon pollution standards for coal- and natural gas-fired power plants.
The technology-based standards that the EPA is proposing include:
- Strengthening the current New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for newly built fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines (generally natural gas-fired)
- Establishing emissions guidelines for states to follow in limiting carbon pollution from existing fossil fuel-fired steam generating EGUs (including coal-, oil-, and natural gas-fired units)
- Establishing emissions guidelines for large, frequently used existing fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines (generally natural gas-fired)
Based on a separate analysis, the EPA is projecting the proposed standards for existing gas-fired plants and the third phase of the NSPS could achieve up to 449 million tons (407 million tonnes) of CO2 emissions reductions. As the EPA works to finalize the rulemaking, the agency will complete additional advanced modeling, aligning methodologies across the rulemaking and considering real-world scenarios within the power sector to best understand how components of the rule impact each other.
As required by Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, these proposed standards and emissions guidelines reflect the best system of emissions reductions (BSER) that has been demonstrated to improve the emissions performance of the sources, taking into account costs, energy requirements, and other factors. In developing these proposed carbon pollution standards, the EPA considered a range of technologies including carbon capture and storage (CCS), using low-GHG hydrogen, and adopting highly efficient generation technologies.
Installation of controls such as CCS for coal and gas plants, and low-GHG hydrogen co-firing for gas plants are more cost-effective for power plants that operate at greater capacity, more frequently, or over longer time periods. The proposed standards and guidelines take this into account by establishing standards for different subcategories of power plants according to unit characteristics such as their capacity, their intended length of operation, and/or their frequency of operation.
The proposal requires that states, in developing plans for existing sources, undertake meaningful engagement with affected stakeholders, including communities disproportionately burdened by pollution and climate change impacts, as well the energy communities and workers who have powered our nation for generations. President Biden’s Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization has identified resources for energy communities to invest in infrastructure, deploy new technologies that can help clean up the electric power sector, support energy workers and spur long-term economic revitalization.
The EPA also conducted an environmental justice analysis, which shows these proposals would play a significant role in reducing GHG pollution. The EPA’s proposal also follows guidance from the Council on Environmental Quality to ensure that the advancement of carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration technologies are done in a responsible manner that incorporates the input of communities and reflects the best available science. Consistent with this guidance, the EPA will engage with communities and stakeholders on opportunities to ensure that deployment of carbon capture and sequestration under the proposal is done in a responsible manner.
The EPA will take comment on these proposals for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The EPA will also hold a virtual public hearing and will make additional information available on the website. Registration for the public hearing will open after the proposal is published in the Federal Register. The agency will also host virtual trainings to provide communities and Tribes with information about the proposal and about participating in the public comment process. Those trainings will be on June 6 and 7, and registration information is available on the EPA’s website.