EPA won't require carbon trapping for existing power plants

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“CCS is really effective as a tool to reduce emissions when it’s designed with the facility itself,” McCarthy said at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor Monday.

“It is not seen, at least at this stage, as an add-on that could be used to put on an existing conventional coal facility. In those applications, it doesn’t seem that it’s appropriate at this stage.” 

But the administration has rejected the industry argument that requiring the sequestration technology would make it impossible to build new coal-fired plants.

Rules that the EPA unveiled on Friday for new power plants require the use of carbon capture and sequestration. EPA officials argue the requirement would yield technologic advancements that will make it cheaper and easier to deploy.

“It does create a path forward, and the administration is going to continue to invest in CCS and other clean coal technologies and help support that reduction in cost over time so that it becomes a viable path forward,” McCarthy said Monday.

Friday’s rule on new plants was the first part in a twin set of regulations to clamp down on carbon pollution from power plants, the source of about 40 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The rule was immediately met with opposition from supporters of coal, and the upcoming regulation on existing plants is likely to face even stronger resistance.

The agency has already started its outreach to develop the regulation for existing plants.

The rule will call for states to develop their own regulations in a way that is “consistent with how that state wants to grow, how it wants to maintain reliable and cost-effective energy supply,” McCarthy said. The EPA would then have to approve each state’s plan.

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