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EPA outlines plan to reduce carbon pollution of new power plants


The United States Environmental Protection Agency rolled out guidelines Friday for newly built power plants designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The proposal is a key part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

The EPA’s proposed standards say that all new power plants must be built with available clean technology to reduce their carbon dioxide output. EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck laid out the guidelines under the Clean Air Act.

“For gas-fired plants they would not be able to emit more than 1,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per megawatt-hour and for new coal plants its 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. That is important, because right now power plant operators can emit an unlimited amount of CO2 emission,” said Enck.

Enck says if approved, the plans will help combat climate change, potentially improving public health.

“The health impacts of climate change are immense. It means hotter temperatures. It means more violent storms and hurricanes. Climate change affects agriculture. The warmer temperature means there is more chance of disease, things like Lyme disease, tick borne disease. Heat stroke, particularly, affects the elderly. So, we need to take steps to reduce carbon pollution,” said Enck.

Enck says New York State will continue to provide a national lead as it already has strict air pollution laws in place.

“Climate change is so immense and so important it’s really impossible to address it on a state by state level, so we really do need national standards. Most states have not done as much as New York has done so this is leveling the playing field,” said Enk.

The EPA will take public comment on this proposal for the next 60 days. They are expected to issue plans for existing power plants by June of 2014. Enck says those plans are likely to be more complicated.