An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The Biden administration on Thursday unveiled a sweeping plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. power industry, one of the biggest steps so far in its effort to decarbonize the economy to fight climate change. The proposal would limit how much carbon dioxide power plants, which are the source of more than a quarter of U.S. emissions, can chuff into the atmosphere, putting the industry on a years-long course to install billions of dollars of new equipment or shut down. Environmental groups and scientists have long argued that such steps are crucial to curb global warming, but fossil fuel-producing states argue that they represent government overreach and threaten to destabilize the electric grid.
The proposal sets standards that would push power companies to install carbon capture equipment (CCS) that can siphon the CO2 from a plant’s smokestack before it reaches the atmosphere, or use super-low-emissions hydrogen as a fuel. The Environmental Protection Agency projects the plan would cut carbon emissions from coal plants and new gas plants by 617 million tons between 2028 and 2042, the equivalent of reducing the annual emissions of 137 million passenger vehicles. “Today we’re proposing new technology standards that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants, protecting health and protecting our planet,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan told students at the University of Maryland on their last day of school on Thursday.
Regan said that the agency has wielded the power of the federal Clean Air Act to craft the new power plant rules, along with a suite of other measures aimed at tackling vehicle emissions, as well as potent greenhouse gases methane and HFCs, that would reduce the equivalent of 15 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions between 2022 and 2055. The proposal, more than 18 months in the making, reflects constraints imposed on the EPA by the Supreme Court, which ruled last year that the agency cannot impose a system-wide shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, but can regulate plants by setting technology-based standards applied on-site.