Washington, DC — Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first Clean Air Act standard for carbon pollution from new power plants. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee that is responsible for EPA oversight, issued the following statement in response to today’s action:
“I applaud the years of thoughtful work and rigorous scientific study, going back to the George W. Bush administration, that EPA has done to craft today’s proposed rule to curb harmful greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The scientific evidence of the threat that increased greenhouse gas emissions pose to Maryland and the health of Chesapeake Bay, to our nation’s farmers and natural ecosystems, and most importantly to the world our children will inherit, is irrefutable. Just as rules to reduce toxic mercury and soot pollution fostered innovative developments in domestic pollution control technologies, this proposed rule will also spur American innovation and job growth as industry works to simultaneously protect our environment, provide our power needs and grow our economy.”
In April 2007, the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA determined that greenhouses gas emissions are air pollutants and are subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. Following this decision, under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, EPA began the process of making scientific determinations on the environmental hazards and threats to public health resulting from increases in harmful greenhouse gas pollution, and in December 2009 issued its Endangerment Findings for carbon emissions. Today’s proposed action is a direct response to the Supreme Court’s action.
Today’s proposal would require reductions in 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.