EPA GHG standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its plan for establishing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards under the Clean Air Act in 2011 for fossil fuel power plants.

As part of the agreement, EPA will propose standards for power plants in July 2011 and will issue final standards in May 2012. The schedule will allow the agency to host listening sessions in early 2011, as well as allow additional feedback, before the rulemaking process begins.

EPA will also permit GHG emissions in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon and Wyoming until the state or local agencies can revise their permitting regulations.

EPA is taking additional steps to disapprove part of Texas’ Clean Air Act permitting program and the agency will issue GHG permits to facilities in the state.

The agency has also issued final rules that will ensure that there are no federal laws in place that require any state to issue a permit for GHG emissions below levels outlined in the tailoring rule.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set industry-specific standards for new sources that emit significant quantities of emissions. These standards, called New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), set the level of emissions new facilities may emit and address air pollution from existing facilities. The Act allows flexible and innovative approaches that take into account cost, health and environmental impacts, and energy requirements. EPA must also periodically update these standards to reflect improvements in control technologies.

Several states, local governments and environmental organizations sued EPA over the agency’s failure to update the standards for fossil fuel power plants, one of the largest source categories of GHG emissions in the United States.

EPA previously issued a common-sense approach to GHG permitting for the largest industrial sources requiring them to use the nest available control technology that takes into account cost as well as environmental and energy efficiency impacts.

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