This week the Environmental Protection Agency took an important step forward. The EPA adopted its first ever rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. According to the Washington Post, “The move could end the construction of conventional coal-fired facilities in the United States.”
This rule would require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. To put that number in perspective: the average US natural gas plant emits between 800 and 850 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt (meeting the standard), while coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt. That means the average coal plant would NOT meet the new standard.
Of course it’s great news for all of us that the construction of new coal plants in the US will be next to impossible. However, none of the country’s current coal plants will be affected by this new rule – and there are a lot of them. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to examine and regulate plants on a case-by-case basis, which means many current coal plants will continue functioning as they always have, emitting harmful toxins and greenhouse gases into our air.
MPIRG applauds the EPA for finally regulating coal plant emissions, and we thank our Senator Klobuchar for her February 9 speech in support of Clean Air Act regulations. But we can all do even better. We must stand up to Big Coal to pave the way for the radical change in our energy sources that is required for a clean and healthy future for Americans.
Written by Joey Dobson