EPA May Set Power Plant Greenhouse Gas Emission Limitations

by Wall Street Rebel - Michael London | 04/24/2023 8:18 AM
EPA May Set Power Plant Greenhouse Gas Emission Limitations

The federal government would regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power facilities for the first time.


According to three people briefed on the rule, the New York Times reports that the administration of President Biden is on the verge of announcing greenhouse gas emission limits from power plants that could require them to capture pollution from their smokestacks. Currently, less than 20 of the 3,400 coal and gas-fired plants in the United States use this technology.

The proposed legislation would limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, which account for 25% of US climate-warming pollution. For future plants, too.

According to sources familiar with the proposal, most coal and gas-fired power facilities would have to reduce or capture virtually all their carbon dioxide emissions by 2040.

Fossil fuel companies, power plant operators, and congressional friends will oppose the regulation. A coalition of Republican attorneys general that sued the Biden administration to derail previous climate plans is expected to fight it immediately. Future administrations may weaken the rule.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is slated to establish and oversee the restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The Office of Management and Budget at the White House is now reviewing the rule that the Environmental Protection Agency submitted. There is still the possibility that the regulation may be amended.

An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokeswoman Maria Michalos stated that the agency is "moving urgently to advance standards that protect people and the planet, building on the momentum from President Biden's Investing in America economic agenda, including proposals to address carbon emissions from new and existing power plants."

Instead of mandating the deployment of carbon capture equipment, which is still in its infancy and may be rather costly, it would instead set limits on the amount of pollution plant operators are allowed to produce and require them to comply with those limits. According to those experienced with the subject area, they may accomplish this goal by using new technology or, like gas plants, by converting to a fuel source such as green hydrogen, which does not produce carbon. Both of these options are viable solutions. However, according to the persons surveyed, the law could result in the more widespread use of carbon capture technology.

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As per the data furnished by the United States Energy Information Administration, approximately 60% of the electricity generated in the United States during the year 2017 was obtained through the process of fossil fuel combustion, which included coal, natural gas, and petroleum.

The idea follows on the heels of two initiatives the Biden administration put out to significantly reduce emissions from tailpipes by hastening the transition to electric cars across the nation and reducing the amount of methane that escapes from oil and gas wells.

Suppose those three restrictions are implemented as they are suggested. In that case, they will result in a considerable reduction in the amount of pollution that causes global warming produced by the economy with the biggest GDP in the world. Together with the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, legislation that is putting $370 billion into renewable energy initiatives, these would put the nation on pace to reach Mr. Biden's commitment to reduce the country's emissions approximately in half by the year 2030 and to cease emitting carbon dioxide to the environment by the year 2050. This would put the country on track to fulfill Mr. Biden's pledge to cut the country's emissions roughly in half by the year 2030.

The world's temperature has already increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius on average. According to experts' findings, this is the course of action that has to be taken by all of the main industrialized nations to prevent an increase in average world temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) relative to preindustrial levels. Once that threshold is crossed, the impacts of cataclysmic heat waves, floods, drought, crop failure, and species loss will become substantially more difficult for civilization to manage.

Mr. Biden has made it clear that he is ready to use the administrative power he has to combat the issue of global warming. He recently highlighted this point after being subjected to severe criticism from environmentalists, particularly young climate campaigners, over his decision last month to authorize a huge oil drilling project on pristine terrain in Alaska, known as the Willow project.

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During a virtual conference on climate and energy, Mr. Biden told fellow world leaders that it is imperative to take action beyond acknowledging the climate-related difficulties we encounter. We are resolute in our commitment to enhancing our aspirations and our endeavors. Furthermore, we are committed to undertaking the necessary efforts to mitigate the effects of global warming and restrict the rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

By releasing a climate regulation aimed at power plants, President Biden aspires to achieve a goal that his predecessor, President Barack Obama, could not accomplish. Approximately ten years ago, Mr. Obama endeavored to implement extensive restrictions on power plant emissions, initially impeded by the Supreme Court and reversed by President Donald Trump. During the previous summer, the United States Supreme Court affirmed that the Environmental Protection Agency possessed the jurisdiction to regulate carbon emissions originating from power plants in a restricted manner.

However, the Biden administration has been emboldened by three factors. The advancements in carbon capture technology have been notable since the Obama administration. Subsequently, the Inflation Reduction Act, passed by the Democrats in the previous year, included verbiage that designated greenhouse gases as pollutants subject to regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Finally, the recent legislation offers tax incentives to power generation facility managers who implement carbon capture technology, rendering it a more economically viable option.

Certain coal plants slated for closure within the next ten years may be exempt from complying with the newly established regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to adopt a flexible approach instead of imposing a single limit that all power plants must adhere to. The plan intends to establish diverse objectives contingent on the plant's magnitude, operational frequency, and pre-existing retirement schedule.

On Friday, Patrick Morrisey, the Republican attorney general of West Virginia, a state that is a significant producer of coal, expressed his anticipation to review Mr. Biden's proposal. The speaker voiced enthusiasm towards examining the Environmental Protection Agency's latest suggested regulation concerning power plants. Additionally, they conveyed their readiness to once again take the lead in opposing any perceived encroachment by the federal government.

Certain environmental organizations express skepticism towards carbon capture technology, contending that it would be more prudent to transition towards renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, which do not generate pollution.

Similar to the suggested guidelines concerning tailpipe emissions and methane emanating from oil and gas facilities, the regulations pertaining to power plants would undergo a period of public commentary and are not anticipated to be ultimately established and executed until the following year.

The Biden administration is expediting the implementation of the three proposed regulations to preempt any potential nullification by Republicans if they gain control of Congress in 2024. As per the Congressional Review Act, it is possible for a succeeding Congress, elected in the upcoming November, to retroactively nullify regulatory actions of agencies that were concluded within a span of 60 days of the preceding Congress.

Implementing stricter regulations on emissions from automobiles, oil and gas facilities, and power plants is concurrently with Mr. Biden's preparation to declare his candidacy for re-election. This is a strategic move as he seeks to secure the support of the youthful demographic that played a pivotal role in his victory in the 2020 presidential election.

During the virtual conference held on Thursday with leaders of prominent economies, President Biden expressed his intention to request $500 million from Congress to combat deforestation in the Amazon region. On the last weekday of the week, the individual in question affixed their signature to an executive order to establish the White House Office of Environmental Justice. Furthermore, the directive requires that every federal agency develop tactics to address the disparate impact of pollution and climate change on minority and tribal populations.

During a Rose Garden ceremony, the President signed an order and addressed environmental activists, stating that he has personally observed vast areas of land that have been devastated by wildfires as a result of ecological changes since taking office. The observer has witnessed numerous communities being ravaged by increasingly frequent and intense storms.

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Nevertheless, electric companies have voiced concerns that any regulation that compels them to install carbon capture equipment will significantly increase the cost of electricity for end users.

Technology has developed to the point that it is no longer seen by many as a frivolous endeavor. To take it to the next level, the government of President Joe Biden is putting billions of dollars into research and demonstration programs. The Calpine Corporation, one of the most significant producers of electricity in the United States from natural gas, is now constructing gigantic carbon capture and storage facilities at Deer Park, Texas, for its power plants. Even if there are only approximately 40 power plants throughout the globe that have the technology, the number is expanding, even if it is doing so very slowly.

The Inflation Reduction Act provides financial incentives to accelerate adoption. The new legislation increased the number of federal tax credits already in place for electric utilities that reduce the carbon dioxide pollution they produce from $30 to $50 to $85 to $135 per ton of carbon dioxide. For big power providers, this may amount to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

"To date, the power sector has not found it economical to build," said Carrie Jenks, the executive director of Harvard's Environmental and Energy Law program. However, the incentives provided by the I.R.A. significantly cut costs and made the project commercially feasible. There is a clear desire among businesses to construct."



                       What are greenhouse gases, and how do they contribute to climate change?

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