US sets standards for cutting power plant pollution

4 August 2015 (Last Updated August 4th, 2015 18:30)

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has unveiled its new Clean Power Plan, which aims to lower carbon dioxide emissions from power projects in the country and combat climate change.

Coal plant emission

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has unveiled its new Clean Power Plan, which aims to lower carbon dioxide emissions from power projects in the country and combat climate change.

Supported by US President Barack Obama, the plan anticipates reducing nearly 870 million tonnes of carbon emissions from energy-generating projects in 2030, making it 32% less than 2005 levels.

Estimates also include a 90% decrease in sulphur dioxide emissions and nitrogen oxides by 72%.

The plan, which supports the expansion of renewable energy developments, is likely to accelerate the country’s transition strategy towards a clean energy future.

EPA assessments have indicated that power plants in the US account for around one-third of all carbon pollution emissions.

The federal proposal also sketches out guidelines for US states to follow until they devise their own clean energy plans. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan has been presented as a model rule for all states to adopt; however, it will be enforced in states that fail to submit an adequate plan.

"We are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change, and the last generation to be able to do something about it."

US states are expected to submit final energy plans by 6 September 2016.

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said: "The valuable feedback we received means the final Clean Power Plan is more ambitious yet more achievable, so states can customise plans to achieve their goals in ways that make sense for their communities, businesses and utilities."

The agency has also finalised standards to curb carbon pollution from new, modified and reconstructed power facilities.

Obama said: "We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence.

"Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science, and act before it’s too late.

"We are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change, and the last generation to be able to do something about it."


Image: US power plants emitting carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and other pollutants. Photo: courtesy of worradmu /FreeDigitalPhotos.net.