Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Proposal Would Ban New Coal Plants without Carbon Controls

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Proposal Would Ban New Coal Plants without Carbon Controls

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- New coal plants would need to install expensive equipment to limit climate-change emissions under a proposal the Environmental Protection Agency is close to issuing, according to people familiar with the plan.

The EPA agreed to revise a similar proposal from last year in response to opposition by utilities and coal producers, who said it would effectively kill coal as a power source. The new version will be structured differently, though it offers little solace to plant operators, according to people briefed by officials, who asked not to be identified before the public release.

The rules -- a focus of intense industry lobbying -- are under review by White House officials and could be reworked before the Sept. 20 scheduled release. The revised standard would retain a provision letting utilities phase in the capture technology over time, one person said. Relying on carbon capture to limit coal emissions is challenging, because the technology is unproven, and it's too expensive, according to the industry.

EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson declined to comment.

"They are going to have to be very artful, given the stage of development of the technology, it's apparent costs and the fact that the government is subsidizing it," said William Bumpers, a lawyer at Baker Botts in Washington, who deals with EPA rules. "That doesn't strike me as commercially viable." Mr. Bumpers said he didn't know what the EPA planned to do.

The administration was forced to rework the first rules on greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants after legal experts questioned its approach in setting one standard for coal and natural- gas plants. Coal emits about twice the carbon dioxide as natural gas when burned to make power.

Carbon-dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution have led to a warming of the Earth's temperature in the past 50 years, worsening forest fires, drought and coastal flooding, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

To deal with the threat, President Barack Obama directed the EPA to cap carbon pollution from power plants, which account for 40 percent of U.S. emissions. …

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