Environmental Groups Press EPA to Regulate Carbon Dioxide From Existing Power Plants
EPA's proposal “will not drive the adoption of carbon capture and storage,” Ben Yamagata, executive director of the Coal Utilization Research Council, a coal industry advocacy group, said in a written copy of his remarks.
“The agency seems to argue that if coal is chosen to fuel a power plant and there exists a CCS requirement then the regulation will actually drive development and adoption of the technology,” Yamagata said. “That might occur if the technology were commercially mature and other less costly fuel options were not available. Neither of these circumstances exist.”
Instead of spurring carbon capture development, EPA's proposal would freeze development of the technology in favor of investing more heavily in natural gas power, he said.
“We believe that the impact of this proposal is nothing less than to stop the development of new coal technology, deployment of coal-based capacity, and frustrate efforts to commercialize carbon capture utilization and storage technology,” Yamagata said.
Market Realities Drive Cleaner Generation.
David Doniger, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate and clean air program, said industry groups were raising “phony arguments” when they said EPA's proposal would force coal-fired power plants to close.
“The market realities have already driven decisions on new power away from coal,” he said.
NRDC favors setting a performance standard more stringent than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour. New combined-cycle natural gas power plants can already achieve a lower emissions rate, and new coal facilities will emit less if they use carbon capture systems, he said.
Doniger also rejected industry arguments that EPA improperly set a single emissions standard for all fuel types. He said the essential function of all power plants is the same, and power companies could choose to burn a cleaner fuel when they build new units.
“These units perform the same function of baseload and intermediate load power generation, and prospective builders have the flexibility to chose among these models,” Doniger said.
Standards Could Go Further.
Schroeder said it was “wise” of EPA to treat all power plants equally for the purpose of carbon dioxide emissions, regardless of fuel type, because all carbon should be regulated. However, EPA should also require carbon capture and storage as the “best system of emissions reduction” under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, he said. Under EPA's proposal, new combined-cycle natural gas power plants would qualify as the best system of emission reduction.
“The NSPS program is meant to pave the way toward improved air quality--including decreased climate pollutant emissions--and is to be based on the best system of emissions reduction,” Schroeder said.
Courts have previously required EPA to set performance standards that reflect emission reductions reasonably projected to be achievable in the near future rather than simply requiring the best controls available at the time, he said.
EPA will accept comments on the proposed rule until June 25. Comment can be submitted at