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EPA proposes strong new standards to limit climate pollution from fossil power plants

On May 11th, President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new rules for fossil fuel-fired power plants that would require them to meet strong climate pollution limits based on the best control technologies.

These rules are an essential part of the EPA fulfilling its responsibility under the Clean Air Act to significantly reduce pollution from power plants, which are the largest industrial contributor to global warming in the U.S.

Three Things You Should Know

The EPA’s Section 111 Clean Air Rules are…

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How does this proposed rule work?

The new Clean Air Act rule is a technology-embracing and forward-looking framework that relies on the very best available pollution control system. It is a reasonable approach that recognizes every plant is different and needs flexible options for reducing its climate pollution and protecting communities’ interests.

This is a massive opportunity to get the U.S. on track to meeting its emissions reductions by limiting pollution from coal and natural gas-fired power plants.

How will power plants meet these requirements?

Currently, technologically proven carbon capture pollution scrubbing systems are readily available and cost-effective technologies that can be applied to new and existing power plants. Utilities may also choose to phase down a plant in favor of a different technology that doesn’t emit CO2, like wind, solar, advanced nuclear energy, superhot rock geothermal, or other low-emissions resources.

The Obama EPA found in 2015 that post-combustion carbon scrubbers come at a reasonable cost, making it an appropriate technology to base new power plant standards on. That doesn’t necessarily mean every power plant will add carbon scrubbers. The key point of this rule sets emission limits based on the best controls and provides a pragmatic pathway for every fossil power plant to reduce its emissions.

What comes next and how can I help?

While some interest groups may try to challenge these rules, we must stand firm in support of the administration and the EPA taking this critical step to protect the climate.

First and foremost, we need policymakers in Washington, D.C. and in state capitals to understand the importance of the EPA carrying out its responsibilities required by the Clean Air Act law. It is also critical to show support to the Biden administration, EPA Administrator Regan, and the EPA.