The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and numerous other organizations are lauding the historic limits to industrial carbon pollution announced today by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The ruling affects new power plants and does not affect plant currently operating or new permitted plants that begin construction over the next 12 months, according to epa.gov.

Joe Mendelson is the Director of Global Warming Policy for the NWF. He was an initiator and co-counsel in the 2007 Supreme Court case. Following the announcement, Mendelson said, “This is a milestone in the fight to rein in climate change that seriously threatens people and wildlife. Species extinctions, worsening air quality, and extreme weather are impacting our families, property, and conservation heritage.”

This is continuing legislation following the Clean Air Act established after a 2007 Supreme Court ruling. Late in 2011, the EPA announced its mercury and air toxics standards, and now carbon limits have been announced.

Original press release issued by U.S. EPA on March 27th, 2012

Following a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed the first Clean Air Act standard for carbon pollution from new power plants. EPA’s proposed standard reflects the ongoing trend in the power sector to build cleaner plants that take advantage of American-made technologies, including new, clean-burning, efficient natural gas generation, which is already the technology of choice for new and planned power plants. At the same time, the rule creates a path forward for new technologies to be deployed at future facilities that will allow companies to burn coal, while emitting less carbon pollution. The rulemaking proposed today only concerns new generating units that will be built in the future, and does not apply to existing units already operating or units that will start construction over the next 12 months.

“Today we’re taking a common-sense step to reduce pollution in our air, protect the planet for our children, and move us into a new era of American energy,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be able to put into our skies – and the health and economic threats of a changing climate continue to grow. We’re putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American made technology to tackle a challenge that we can’t leave to our kids and grandkids.”

Currently, there is no uniform national limit on the amount of carbon pollution new power plants can emit. As a direct result of the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling, EPA in 2009 determined that greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment.

The proposed standard, which only applies to power plants built in the future, is flexible and would help minimize carbon pollution through the deployment of the same types of modern technologies and steps that power companies are already taking to build the next generation of power plants. EPA’s proposal is in line with these investments and will ensure that this progress toward a cleaner, safer and more modern power sector continues. The proposed standards can be met by a range of power facilities burning different fossil fuels, including natural gas technologies that are already widespread, as well as coal with technologies to reduce carbon emissions. Even without today’s action, the power plants that are currently projected to be built going forward would already comply with the standard. As a result, EPA does not project additional cost for industry to comply with this standard.

Prior to developing this standard, EPA engaged in an extensive and open public process to gather the latest information to aid in developing a carbon pollution standard for new power plants. The agency is seeking additional comment and information, including public hearings, and will take that input fully into account as it completes the rulemaking process. EPA’s comment period will be open for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.

Statements

Here’s what people across the country are saying about EPA’s proposed carbon pollution standard for new power plants:

John Arensmeyer, CEO, Small Business Majority:

“…National opinion polling we released in September found 76 percent of small business owners support the EPA regulating carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. Another 87 percent believe improving innovation and energy efficiency are good ways to increase prosperity for small businesses…”

Albert A. Rizzo, M.D., Chair, Board of Directors of the American Lung Association:

“…By proposing standards for carbon pollution from new facilities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is setting the stage for the next generation of America’s power plants to be the least toxic and most modern in the world…”

The Clean Energy Group’s Clean Air Policy Initiative:

“…EPA’s action today represents a modest step that provides the industry with business and regulatory certainty… Further, based on our review of recent projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration and current market dynamics, the proposed GHG performance standards for new sources will not impact the reliability of the electric system.”

Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk:

“Ceres applauds the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for releasing, for public comment, its historic proposal to limit carbon pollution from new power plants under the Clean Air Act. Ceres supports this new standard because it will provide certainty to businesses and investors, clarify the risks and opportunities for the U.S. electric power sector, and serve as a long-term market signal to drive greater investment in lower-carbon electric power generation…”

Dick Munson, SVP, Recycled Energy Development:

“The Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules on greenhouse-gas emissions will help U.S. businesses increase their productivity and competitiveness. By internalizing the costs of pollution, EPA has provided certainty to firms seeking to generate clean energy and increase manufacturing efficiency.”

Ralph Izzo, CEO, Public Service Electric and Gas:

“…The Agency’s action establishes a logical and modest standard for new electric power plants and provides the industry with much-needed regulatory certainty. The EPA provides a framework for the industry to confront this problem in a cost effective manner…”

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety:

“…Today’s proposal to ensure that new coal and natural gas power plants take into account their greenhouse gas emissions before they commence construction is a step in the right direction as we work to curb these harmful emissions…”

Bill Ritter Jr., Former Colorado Governor:

“…It is welcome news, indeed, to see our nation moving forward with clean air standards to limit the harmful carbon pollution from new coal burning power plants as coal plants are the highest emitting source of air pollution in our country. The proposed emission standards for carbon pollution will unleash smart investments in cleaner, homegrown energy that will limit dangerous pollution and build a modern clean energy economy for the 21st Century.”

Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.):

“The EPA took an important step today in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the release of the New Source Performance Standards…”

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D- Calif.), Ranking Member, Committee on Energy and Commerce:

“The proposal is a breakthrough. It sets achievable limits on dangerous carbon pollution, spurs investments in new clean energy technologies, and provides certainty for industry. And it shows the President is listening to scientists, not extremists who deny the existence of climate change. Today’s action will reduce pollution, make families healthier, promote innovation, and help us compete with China and other countries that are investing in clean energy.”

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ranking Member, Committee on Natural Resources:

“…The Obama administration has already put us on the path towards emitting less pollution from our vehicle tailpipes, and now they are doing the same thing for America’s power plant smokestacks. Both efforts will spur a generation of American-built energy innovation, and help stave off the worse effects of climate change. This carbon standard is yet another indication that we need to keep America’s natural gas here at home to provide affordable electricity and capitalize on this competitive advantage to rebuild our manufacturing, chemical and fertilizer industries.”

American Sustainable Business Council, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and Main Street Alliance:

“…As representatives of the business community, we understand the importance of certainty and clear market signals and believe a national standard to reduce carbon pollution from new power plants will both clarify risks and opportunities for U.S. businesses, while also leading to technological innovation and investment in the domestic clean energy market. Investing in cleaner technologies and more efficient resources can be a pathway to profit and prosperity, boosting economic growth and creating jobs while also providing competitive returns to investors. We look forward to reviewing the proposal and identifying opportunities for increased investment in innovative low and no-carbon technologies as well as new energy infrastructure and energy efficiency…”

Photo: LaborConnect (flickr)

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