EPA Excludes Existing Natural Gas Plants From Draft Carbon Capture Rules

EPA Excludes Existing Natural Gas Plants From Draft Carbon Capture Rules - Carbon Herald

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Thursday that it plans to remove existing natural gas power plants from a set of carbon capture regulations the industry saw as too demanding.

The EPA did confirm a timeline for finalizing their final policy proposal by April, saying it will have regulations for new gas plants, as well as the entire coal-fired fleet. An addition to the policy will also be rules for formaldehyde and nitrogen dioxide .

“The agency is taking a new, comprehensive approach to cover the entire fleet of natural gas-fired turbines, as well as cover more pollutants including climate, toxic and criteria air pollution,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

The delay will likely push the final submission for after November, essentially delaying a final decision on its fate for after the 2024 presidential election.

Utility industry organization Edison Electric Institute (EEI) – representing companies that supply energy to 250 million customers nationwide – opposed the previous set of proposals.

“We appreciate that EPA has acknowledged our concerns with the proposed regulations for existing natural gas. We know that the agency likely will repropose regulations for these units once this rule is finalized,” said Emily Sanford Fisher, General Counsel of EEI, in a statement.

Back in May 2023 the agency announced its new standards for coal and new natural gas-fired power plants that are expected to avoid more than 600 million metric tons of CO2 pollution through 2042. The proposed rules state that coal plants would have to capture 90% of their carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and natural gas units will have until 2035 to capture the same amount of CO2. The standards aim to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 2035.

In August 2023, Republican senators voiced their opposition and claimed that the EPA simply doesn’t have the authority to mandate any reductions, as the previous set of rules – the Clean Air Act and more specifically its 2014 Clean Power Plan – was challenged legally and the Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia v. EPA that the agency can’t direct plants on the energy source they utilize.

Read more: Why Have Republican Senators Asked The EPA To Withdraw Proposed Power Plant Emission Limits?

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