EPA power plant rule enters final review

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has submitted the final version of its carbon emissions rule for new power plants to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. 

The move is the final step before the rule is finalized and implemented, something the EPA says should happen by mid-summer.  

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The proposed rule, which the EPA circulated last year, set hard limits on carbon emissions from newly built fossil fuel plants. Under the proposal, the limits were 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour produced for coal plants, and 1,000 pounds or 1,100 pounds per megawatt-hour for natural gas plants, depending on the size of the facility.

Energy interests, and especially the coal industry, have slammed the proposal, saying it will raise costs and lead to job losses in the industry. The proposed rule assumed new coal-fired power plants could utilize an emissions reduction strategy called carbon capture, which is rarely used right now.

The rule is one of the core aspects of President Obama's climate change agenda. The EPA is still working on finalizing its emission reduction standards for existing power plants — the Clean Power Plan — something officials hope to finish later this summer.

"Together these actions will provide important public health benefits and address climate change, while ensuring reliable, affordable and clean power for American businesses and families," EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said in a statement.