The Biden administration on Thursday proposed new carbon pollution standards to restrict greenhouse gas emissions released by fossil fuel-powered power plants, an effort that, if implemented, would significantly boost President Joe Biden’s ambitious climate agenda.
Under the proposed rules according to the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly all large coal and gas plants in the United States would have to reduce or capture nearly all (90%) of their carbon dioxide emissions by 2038 or be forced to retire.
The EPA estimated that its proposal would prevent up to 617 million metric tons of carbon dioxide through 2042, which is equivalent to cutting annual emissions from about half of the cars in the US. The rules would prevent 300,000 asthma attacks and 1,300 annual premature deaths by 2030, the EPA said.
“By proposing new standards for fossil fuel-fired power plants, EPA is fulfilling its mission to reduce harmful pollution that threatens the health and well-being of people,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.
«EPA’s proposal builds on proven and readily available technologies to limit carbon pollution and builds on the momentum already underway in the electric sector to move toward a cleaner future,» Regan said, adding that these policies they would reduce «climate pollution and other harmful pollutants, protecting people’s health and boosting American innovation.»
If finalized, the proposed regulation would mark the first time the federal government has restricted carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, which generate about 25% of US greenhouse gas pollution, second only to by the transport sector.
Coal currently provides about 20% of US electricity, below 45% in 2010. Natural gas provides about 40% of the electricity in the United States.
Industry groups have aggressively opposed the proposals. The National Mining Association criticized the rules as «illegal spectacle», arguing that they would make it more difficult for companies to operate given the realities of existing technology.
«Every single rule that comes from the Biden administration’s EPA is designed to make it impossible for states and utilities to make decisions based on the merits of what keeps the lights on and electricity inflation down, forcing them to make decisions based solely on the EPA’s desire to end coal-fired generation in the United States,» the association wrote in a statement.
Ahead of the proposal’s introduction Wednesday, Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va, who chairs the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, condemned the EPA for what he called its determination to advance the administration’s «radical climate agenda.» .
manchin said he will oppose all EPA nominees “until they stop the government overreach,” adding that the administration has “made it clear that they are determined to do everything in their power to regulate the elimination of coal and gas-fired power plants, no matter the cost.” for energy security and reliability. «
EPA will receive comments on the proposals for 60 days and will hold a virtual public hearing to consider implementation.
Biden has pledged to take action on the most ambitious environmental justice agenda in US history and has pushed to position the nation as a world leader in the fight against climate change.
In April, before his re-election announcement, Biden signed an executive order to further his climate goals, which included establishing a White House office to coordinate his administration’s efforts on the issue.
The Associated Press contributed.