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EPA Issues New Power Plant Emission Rules

EPA Issues New Power Plant Emission Rules

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has unveiled a proposal for new carbon pollution standards for coal and natural gas-fired power plants, aiming to protect public health, reduce harmful pollutants, and deliver substantial climate and public health benefits. The proposed standards are expected to prevent up to 617 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2042. This reduction is equivalent to the annual emissions of 137 million passenger vehicles, approximately half the cars in the United States. The EPA estimates that the net climate and health benefits of these standards on new gas and existing coal-fired power plants could reach $85 billion by 2042.

In addition to curbing carbon emissions, the proposals would significantly reduce harmful air pollutants such as particulate matter (PM2.5), sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide. These pollutants pose a threat to public health, particularly in communities that have long suffered from high pollution and environmental injustices. The proposed standards would prevent numerous health issues, including approximately 1,300 premature deaths, over 800 hospital and emergency room visits, more than 300,000 cases of asthma attacks, 38,000 school absence days, and 66,000 lost workdays in 2030 alone.
 
The technology-based standards proposed by the EPA include strengthening the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for newly built fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines, establishing emission guidelines for existing fossil fuel-fired steam generating units (including coal, oil, and natural gas-fired units), and establishing emission guidelines for frequently used fossil fuel-fired stationary combustion turbines. The EPA's separate analysis suggests that the proposed standards for existing gas-fired plants and the third phase of NSPS could achieve up to 407 million metric tons of CO2 emission reductions.
 
To ensure an inclusive and comprehensive approach, the proposal mandates meaningful engagement with affected stakeholders, including communities disproportionately affected by pollution and climate change impacts, as well as energy communities and workers. The Biden Administration’s Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization has identified resources for investing in infrastructure, deploying clean technologies, supporting energy workers, and driving long-term economic revitalization.

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