Power plant restrictions may be delayed by EPA
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WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is leaning toward revising its landmark proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, according to several individuals briefed on the matter, a move that would delay tougher restrictions and anger many environmentalists.
The discussions center on the first-ever greenhouse gas limits for power plants, proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency nearly a year ago. Rewriting the proposal would significantly postpone any action and also might allow the agency to set more permissive standards for coal-fired power plants, roughly twice as polluting as those fueled by natural gas. Any retreat on the rules would be a blow to environmental groups and their supporters, who constituted a crucial voting block for President Barack Obama and other Democrats in last year's elections.
The EPA proposal, due to be finalized April 13, would require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity produced.
New power plant standards are less controversial than imposing carbon limits on existing plants, which emit 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year, or 40 percent of the nation's carbon output. The Obama administration has yet to say if it will pursue that policy.
"Any signal they're stalled just ensures further delay in confronting climate change at a time when the Americans are looking for momentum," Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said in a statement. "We're now in the fifth year of the Obama administration, and industrial carbon pollution remains unregulated. When it comes to climate-disrupting carbon pollution, coal-fired power plants are still allowed to treat America's skies like an open sewer, free of charge," he said.
Individuals familiar with the power plants discussions spoke on condition of anonymity because a final decision has not been made. An administration official who also spoke anonymously said the "EPA is still reviewing comments, and so any speculation to that extent would be premature."
First Published March 16, 2013 12:41 am