Friday, September 20, 2013

Proposed EPA Climate Change Regulations

For New Fossil Fuel-Fired Power Plants

Today’s issuance of EPA's proposed regulation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions proposes to establish separate standards for fossil fuel-fired electric steam generating units (utility boilers and Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) units) and for natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbines.

These proposed standards reflect separate determinations of the best system of emission reduction (BSER) for utility boilers and IGCC units and for natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbines.


EPA is proposing to set separate standards for certain natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbines and for fossil fuel-fired utility boilers and integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) units. All standards are in pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour (lb CO2/MWh gross).

• EPA is proposing two limits for fossil fuel-fired utility boilers and IGCC units, depending on the compliance period that best suits the unit. These limits require capture of only a portion of the CO2 from the new unit. These proposed limits are:

o 1,100 lb CO2/MWh gross over a 12-operating month period, or
o 1,000-1,050 lb CO2/MWh gross over an 84-operating month (7-year) period

• EPA is proposing two standards for natural gas-fired stationary combustion units, depending on size. The proposed limits are based on the performance of modern natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units. These proposed limits are:

o 1,000 lb CO2/MWh gross for larger units (> 850 mmBtu/hr)
o 1,100 lb CO2/MWh gross for smaller units (≤ 850 mmBtu/hr)

A modern coal plant without carbon controls would release about 1,800 pounds per megawatt hour.  A modearn natural gas plant releases about 800 pounds per megawat hour.

At this time, the EPA is not proposing standards of performance for modified or reconstructed sources. EPA is expected to propose emissions limits for existing plants by June 2014.

There is a 60-day comment period from today.  The Clean Air Act gives a one-year timeframe to finalize these regulations. 

To meet the standard, new coal-fired power plants would need to install expensive technology to capture carbon dioxide and bury it underground (carbon capture and storage - CCS). No coal-fired power plant has done that yet, in large part because of the cost. And those plants that the EPA points to as potential models, such as a coal plant being built in Kemper County, Miss., by Southern Co., have received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants and tax credits.

The regulation will almost certainly be litigated once it becomes final.  The legal argument will probably be based around whether carbon capture and storage is a demonstrated technology.  (EPA, EPA Fact Sheet, Huff Post, 9/19/2013)

2013 Proposed Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants

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