• New EPA CO2 Limits Impact Wyoming Coal-Fired Power Plant Proposals
  • December 5, 2013
  • Law Firm: Holland Hart LLP - Denver Office
  • EPA has proposed revised carbon pollution standards that would require new coal-fired power plants to emit no more than 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour. New natural gas-fired power plants would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds per hour for large turbines, and 1,100 pounds per megawatt hour for small turbines. Carbon dioxide emissions at Wyoming's existing coal-fired power plants range from 2,100 to 2,600 pounds per megawatt hour. The standards are designed to guarantee reliance on advanced technologies including carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). According to EPA, the proposed standards "reflect an ongoing trend in the power sector" to shift toward cleaner technologies, and the standards "are not expected to have notable costs and are not projected to impact electricity prices or reliability." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce submitted a letter to Congress opposing the proposed rule and criticizing the rule's requirement for CCS technology: "EPA's designation of CCS as the best system for compliance under this rule amounts to little more than a regulatory euphemism for what is plainly a ban on the construction of new coal-fired power plants." The U.S. Chamber opposed any mandate of CCS technology, which is not yet commercially-viable and at this time would result in increased power prices passed on to ratepayers in every sector of the economy.

    The National Mining Association similarly stated "Just because EPA believes CCS is ready doesn't make it so, and technology experts say it isn't. The last thing American households need is another 'rush-before-ready' policy that gambles with our economic and energy future." The U.S. Chamber also indicated its support for draft legislation developed by Representative Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Senator Joe Manchin (D- W. Va.) which would prohibit EPA from mandating CCS until it has been adequately employed on commercial-scale power plants and would delay EPA greenhouse gas regulations for existing power plants from becoming effective until expressly authorized by Congress. The House Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing on EPA's proposed rule and the draft Whitfield-Manchin bill on November 14.

    EPA's proposed rule replaces the carbon standards rule proposed in April 2012 which has been withdrawn, and thus new comments must be submitted within sixty days after the new proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.