EPA May Reverse Bush, Limit Carbon Emissions From Coal-Fired Plants
The Environmental Protection Agency will reopen the possibility of regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, tossing aside a December Bush administration memorandum that declared that the agency would not limit the emissions.
The decision could mark the first step toward placing limits on greenhouse gases emitted by coal plants, an issue that has been hotly contested by the coal industry and environmentalists since April 2007, when the Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide should be considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
The industry has vigorously opposed efforts to regulate those emissions, asserting that the policy should be set by Congress. Moreover, technology for capturing carbon dioxide emissions is expensive and virtually untested.
Environmental groups, however, say that building new coal plants with conventional technology locks in additional greenhouse gas emissions for the entire 30-to-40-year lifetimes of the power plants, making it difficult to slow climate change. They have been urging the Obama administration and state governments to use the Supreme Court ruling to block air pollution permits for new coal-fired power plants and to rely on renewable energy and energy-efficiency measures to meet power needs.