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Obama Administration Sets Limits On New Coal Plant Emissions

Coal-fired power plant – Arizona

The Obama administration has announced its long-anticipated rules that will drastically limit the output of carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired power plants, one of the leading contributors to climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that the administration’s dedication to addressing climate change has not fallen off the wagon completely, despite the amount of controversy it could (and undoubtedly will) stir up during this election year. Recent statements by President Obama and delays of EPA rules over the last few months have worried environmentalists about whether or not new standards would actually be put in place.

These new rules for power plants mixed with car and truck fuel economy standards, however, prove that the Obama administration is making significant improvements in reducing pollution from two of the largest sources of greenhouse gases. Power plants alone account for 40% of the United States’ carbon dioxide output.

The regulations are only in place for new power plants, with existing plants next in line for some new standards and regulations. New plants will be required to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour. Natural gas power plants emit about 800 pounds per megawatt hour, and new coal plants emit between 1,600 and 1,900 pounds per hour.

It’s good to know that regardless of how all this goes over, the ways in which power was generated in the 19th and 20th centuries are beginning to be phased out, making room for new sources. With more than 100 coal plants closing down in the U.S., it’s somewhat comforting to see cleaner energy taking precedence and gaining significant momentum, amid protests from old, wealthy and powerful fossil fuel interests.

Image CC licensed by Alan Stark: Coal-fired power plant, Arizona

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  • coal miner

    CO2 is not a pollutant, but a natural gas that it given off ass we, humans, exhale. Please tell me if I’m wrong, but trees need what gas to produce oxygen? That’s right CO2! So I guess everyone in the world shouldn’t breathe beacause we are polluting the air… some of the people, like the person who wrote this article, just act like they are brainwashed into this “global warming” without actually knowing the facts. Tell me why we wouldn’t use the money to make burning coal cleaner. I bet in the 70s nobody thought we would be able to limit the emissions of burning coal like we are today. As for the deaths in the mining industry, it has changed drastically from the way it was 30 years ago. Most companies strive for safety and put it in front of production, unlike years ago. The coal mining industry isn’t even in the top 10 deadliest jobs anymore. Don’t get me wrong it is still dangerous, but it is leaps and bounds better then the way things used to be. Plus I’d like to keep my job which provides a great quality of life for my family… is that to much to ask…..? from a West Virginia coal miner.

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    “Tell me why we wouldn’t use the money to make burning coal cleaner.” Quite a lot of money is certainly being put into developing that. It may not end up being economically viable to do that on a large scale though, but rather use renewable forms of energy such as solar, as the technology and capacity advances and costs come down dramatically. 

    As for C02, of course you are right about it being natural. Too much of it too fast going into the air is what climate scientists are telling us is the big problem. Burning fossil fuels is a massive contributor. Coal took millions of years to form, and we are burning that carbon at an astonishing rate. No surprise that is causing problems really.

    I’m certainly sorry if you ever happen to lose your present job over that situation, but there is always the possibility to retrain and do something else, perhaps in the renewable energy area instead? It’s definitely a high growth sector! 

    It’s a fact of history that some industries decline as newer and better technologies take over. I think that will happen with the coal industry.