National mortality effects from existing U.S. coal power plants, 2010. Graphic: Clean Air Task Force

By Juliet Eilperin
12 April 2013

(Washington Post) – You might have been wondering whether the Obama administration was going to impose the first-ever greenhouse gas limits on new power plants, since the deadline is April 13.

We reported nearly a month ago that the Environmental Protection Agency was likely to delay the rule to bolster their legal case for imposing the new carbon restrictions.

On Friday, EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson confirmed that the agency would not finalize the controversial proposal on time.

Johnson said in an e-mail that the agency was still reviewing more than 2 million comments on its proposal.

“We are working on the rule and no timetable has been set,” Johnson said.

EPA is likely to alter the rule in some way in an effort to make sure it can withstand a legal challenge, according to sources familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the standard has not been finalized. One possibility could include establishing a separate standard for coal-fired power plants, as opposed to gas-fired ones.

The rule, which the EPA proposed a year ago, would require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.

But some utilities have objected to the restrictions, complaining that even some natural gas plants will not be able to meet the new standards easily.

Will environmentalists complain about the delay, or accept it? Right now, they’re waiting for a clear signal from the administration on climate. EPA acting administrator Bob Perciasepe told reporters this week the agency will start working on a rule for existing plants sometime in fiscal year 2014, though he did not give a specific timeline for when such an effort would be finished. [more]

It’s official: EPA delays climate rule for new power plants



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