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New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)
Aerial view over coal fired power station Photo: Adobe Stock
The US EPA’s proposed new greenhouse gas emissions standards seize the momentum already underway in the power sector to move toward a cleaner future

Photo: Adobe Stock

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution standards for the country’s coal and natural gas-fired power stations in a bid to tackle the climate crisis and protect public health.

The new proposed standards would avoid more than 600mn tonnes of CO2 emissions through 2042, as well as tens of thousands of tonnes of particulate matter (PM2.5), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx), states the EPA. It also claims the proposal would prevent some 300,000 asthma attacks and 1,300 premature deaths in 2030 alone, and deliver up to $85bn in climate and public health benefits over the next two decades.


According to EPA Administrator Michael S Regan, the proposed standards rely ‘on proven, readily available technologies to limit carbon pollution and seizes the momentum already underway in the power sector to move toward a cleaner future’.


The EPA also notes that the proposed standards would ‘provide owners and operators of power plants with ample lead time and substantial compliance flexibilities, allowing power companies and grid operators to make sound long-term planning and investment decisions, and supporting the power sector’s ability to continue delivering reliable and affordable electricity’. It also claims that, according to its analysis, power companies would be able to ‘implement the standards with a negligible impact on electricity prices, well within the range of historical fluctuations’.


The EPA has considered a range of technologies in its proposal, including carbon capture and storage (CCS), utilising low-greenhouse gas (GHG) hydrogen, and adopting highly efficient generation technologies. It notes that: ‘Installation of controls such as CCS for coal and gas plants, and low-GHG hydrogen co-firing for gas plants are more cost-effective for power plants that operate at greater capacity, more frequently, or over longer time periods. The proposed standards and guidelines take this into account by establishing standards for different subcategories of power plants according to unit characteristics such as their capacity, their intended length of operation, and/or their frequency of operation.’


The proposed standards build on the momentum already underway in the power sector to move toward a cleaner future. Since 2005, the power sector has reduced CO2 emission by 36%, according to the EPA, while continuing to keep pace with growing energy demand.


The EPA and the Department of Energy also recently signed a memorandum of understanding to support US grid reliability and resiliency.