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NRDC Experts: EPA Carbon Pollution Limits for New Power Plants Workable, Popular and Would Address Climate Change

WASHINGTON (February 6, 2014) – The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits on carbon pollution from future power plants are realistic, would deliver real results and have attracted broad support nationwide, experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council will say today in a public hearing.

The EPA is holding a daylong hearing in Washington to take public comments on its proposed standard to limit carbon pollution from power plants that are built in the future.

The new source standard is part of a national climate strategy President Obama announced last summer. Next, the EPA is scheduled to propose by June cutting carbon pollution from the nation’s roughly 600 existing power plants. Power plants are responsible for 40 percent of the nation’s carbon footprint and are a driving force behind climate change.

In his statement, here, David Doniger, Policy Director, Climate and Clean Air Program at NRDC, says EPA’s authority to curb carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act is clear, and bolstered by two U.S. Supreme Court actions.

“EPA is fully justified in setting standards for new power plants under Section 111(b),” Doniger says. “EPA has made the science-based determination that emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that endangers public health and welfare.  The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the endangerment determination, and as noted the Supreme Court refused all challenges to it.  Power plants, being responsible for 40 percent of the nation’s CO2 pollution, are the most significant contributor to that greenhouse gas air pollution.  The endangerment determination, coupled with information on the scale of power plant carbon pollution, fully supports the setting of Section 111 standards.”

In his statement, here, David Hawkins, Director of Climate Programs at NRDC, says EPA’s proposal rests on solid technical, economic and legal grounds, and bases its emission standards for new coal energy production on partial carbon capture technology, coupled with geologic sequestration of the captured carbon (CCS).

“CCS systems have three components, all of which have been demonstrated in commercial, industrial-scale applications for decades,” Hawkins says. “…[The] commercial experience proves that carbon capture is demonstrated technology for commercial-scale industrial facilities and that systems to transport and inject captured CO2 in amounts relevant to the power sector are also demonstrated.”

In his statement, here, Ben Longstreth, senior attorney at NRDC, supports the EPA’s proposed limits related to coal-fired power plants, but says those for natural gas plants could be stronger. EPA proposes that for NGCC units above 250 megawatts, the standard should be 1000 lbs CO2 per MWH.  For units below 250 megawatts, EPA proposes 1,100 lbs CO2 per megawatt hour. 

“In selecting these numbers EPA has proposed emission levels that just about every NGCC unit in each size class can meet.  This is not adequate…There is no reason for EPA to set a standard of 1,000 lbs Co2/MW when so many plants can achieve substantially better results.”

In his statement, here, Fernando Cazares, NRDC/Voces Verdes fellow, highlights the results from a new national poll showing overwhelming support among Latinos in the United States for the EPA taking action against climate change.

“Nationally, nine in 10 Latinos want the government to take action against the dangers of global warming and climate change,” Cazares says. “Of those, 68 percent of Republican Latinos say that it is important—including 46 percent of Republicans who say it’s very or extremely important—for our government to tackle global warming and climate change.  We trust our state and federal government agencies to exercise their authority and duty to protect us from the effects of pollution from fossil fuels and the climate change that it drives, on our health and the resources that our country’s future generations need to achieve their dreams.”


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.


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