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