EPA Takes Major Step Forward with Critical Standards for Limiting Carbon Pollution from Coal- and Gas-Fired Power Plants, Second-Largest Source of U.S. Heat-trapping Emissions

Published May 11, 2023

Media Contact

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a set of proposed standards targeting carbon pollution from new gas-fired power plants and existing gas- and coal-fired power plants.

Below is a statement by Julie McNamara, the deputy policy director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“Despite the costs of climate impacts growing ever clearer, we have had no federal standards tackling carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants, the nation’s second-largest source of heat-trapping emissions. Strong power plant carbon pollution standards are a foundational component of any and every viable path to meeting our nation’s climate targets—and are required of EPA by the Clean Air Act.

“Today’s proposed standards mark a pivotal turning point, with Administrator Regan rightfully and necessarily moving to hold coal- and gas-fired power plants to account for their ongoing carbon pollution. As important as these proposed standards are, gaps still remain. EPA must strengthen its standards for existing gas plants, requiring deeper emissions reductions on faster timelines—and it must extend requirements across a significantly expanded range of plants. EPA must also close loopholes that would enable certain new gas plants to come online with minimal requirements and existing coal plants to keep polluting well into the next decade.

“As EPA advances these standards, the whole of the administration must prioritize robust environmental justice protections and environmental and public health safeguards, especially when it comes to carbon capture and sequestration and hydrogen co-firing. The agency must protect against greenwashing attempts by fossil fuel interests that would worsen, not lessen, environmental injustices. EPA must meet the moment for climate without sacrificing the rights and priorities of communities.

“How EPA proceeds will shape the decisions states and utilities make around the clean energy transition for decades to come. As accountability for the widespread, and long-lasting environmental injustices of fossil fuel-fired power plant pollution coincides with their rapidly eroding economics compared to clean energy alternatives, states and utilities beginning to contemplate future compliance requirements should take note: Emissions reductions based on clean energy expansion will prove the most robust forward course on climate, public health, environmental justice, and basic economics.”

For more background information, see McNamara’s related blog here.