The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to release new emission standards for new and existing power plants, as reported by Reuters on April 23. According to sources familiar with the matter, the new rules would require almost all coal- and gas-fired power plants to cut or capture nearly all their carbon dioxide emissions by 2040. To achieve the aggressive target, the proposed regulations would focus on modifications that can be directly implemented at existing power plants, including heat-rate improvements to boost efficiency, carbon-capture systems, and the use of cleaner hydrogen in place of natural gas for combustion purposes.
The US electric power industry is the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions after the transport industry. The proposed rules will leverage a Supreme Court decision last July that barred EPA from forcing a system-wide shift in electric generation but allowed it to issue plant-specific rules. It also relies on the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act(IRA), which offers tax credits to make carbon capture and hydrogen more affordable and grants the EPA the authority to regulate power plants. The latest EPA proposal supports the Biden Administration’s efforts to achieve the national goal of slashing GHG emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030. On April 12, the EPA proposed the strictest-ever pollution standards for cars and trucks, with the expectation that electric vehicles will account for two-thirds of new car sales by 2032.