United States Environmental Protection Agency Proposes Carbon Dioxide Emissions Limits for New Power Plants

On September 20, 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed national limits on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for new natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbines and fossil fuel-fired electric utility steam generating units. The proposed rule would establish a “New Source Performance Standard” for CO2 and is known as the “Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units.” The proposed rule is a revision of an earlier EPA rule, now rescinded, which would have established a single standard of 1,000 lb/MWh for both coal and natural gas-fired plants.

Unlike its April 2012 predecessor, the proposed rule adopts separate standards for coal and natural gas-fired plants. New natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbine units over 850 BTU/hr would be subject to a 1,000 lb/MWh emissions limit and those under 850 BTU/hr5 would be subject to a 1,100 lb/MWh limit. Under the proposed rule, new coal-fired plants can either (i) average emissions over an 84-month period if they meet a gross limit between 1,000 to 1,050 lb/MWh6 or (ii) average emissions of 1,100 lb/MWh over a 12-month operating period. The purpose of the longer compliance period is to provide sources with flexibility in phasing in the use of carbon capture and sequestration technologies (CCS).

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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