Who needs Congress? California regulator limits carbon emissions

But Calpine and regulators at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which administers the Clean Air Act for the region, reached an agreement that will require the utility to use “best available technology” to meet emission limits at the Russell City facility.

“We have been proactive in trying to make sure our facilities use the best technology possible to ensure we can curb greenhouse gases,” said Norma Dunn, a Calpine spokeswoman. "In the future, this is going to be required. We want to show that we can generate electricity and still take care of the environment."

Although the emissions cuts were voluntarily accepted, they are still enforceable, a spokeswoman at the management district said. Calpine will have to meet hourly, daily and annual emissions standards.

Environmentalists who haven’t had all that much to cheer about on climate said the announcement was good news.

“This could become an important precedent,” said Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch, in an email. “It shows the current Clean Air Act can be used to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.”

Dunn said she did not know if the technologies to be included in the Russell City plant will raise the costs of electricity.