EPA Proposal – Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants

EPA News & UpdatesOn September 20, 2013, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new Clean Air Act standards to cut carbon pollution from new power plants. The proposed rule is for New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for new fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGUs), primarily those fired by coal or natural gas. The rule was crafted to limit the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), from these EGU units.

The proposal is part of the EPAs plans to combat climate change and improve public health. Fossil fuel-fired power plants are the nation’s largest sources of carbon pollution and emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs). The rule is designed to require any newly constructed power plants be equipped during the construction phase with the available best technology for controlling carbon and GHG emissions. EPA is accepting and encouraging public comment on the new proposed standards, and will maintain the comment period for 60 days after the original publish date in the Federal Register.

The proposed standards are, in actuality, a revision of standards originally proposed in April of 2012, and this new proposal is an attempt on the part of the EPA to accommodate the feedback and criticisms from the 2.5 million public comments received after the initial proposed rule. The chief criticism of the original rule was a single standard for both coal and natural gas-fired units, based on a single concept of “best system of emissions reductions” (BSER). In response to this, the new rule proposes two separate standards for coal and gas-fired units, based on BSERs specific to each category. The original proposal was rescinded by the EPA in a separate action.

This NSPS proposed rule is specific to plants that will be constructed in the future, typically identified as after the date of the proposal. After the proposed NSPS standards, the EPA has announced plans to communicate with the owners and operators of currently-constructed sources, to develop standards for existing units. These standards are expected to be different from, and less stringent than, the standards proposed now for future sources.

The Proposed NSPS Standards

    • Fossil Fuel-fired utility boilers and integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) units
      • BSER – Partial Carbon Capture System
      • Proposed limits, dependent on compliance period that best suits the unit:
        • 1,100 lb CO2/MWh gross over 12-operating month period
        • 1,000 – 1,050 lb CO2/MWh gross over an 84-operating month (7-year) period
    • Natural gas-fired stationary combustion units
      • BSER – Current Natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units
      • Proposed limits, dependent on size of the unit:
        • 1,000 lb CO2/MWh gross for larger units (>850 mmBtu/hr)
        • 1,100 lb CO2/MWh gross for smaller units (?850 mmBtu/hr)

Comment Period and How to Comment

EPA will accept comment on this new proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Comments on the proposed standard should be identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0495. All comments may be submitted by one of the following methods:

  • www.regulations.gov – follow the on-line instructions for comment submittal
  • E-mail comments to [email protected]
  • Fax your comments to: 202-566-9744
  • Mail your comments to:
    • Air and Radiation Docket and Information Center
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Mail Code: 2822 2T
    • 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
    • Washington, DC 20460
  • Deliver your comments to:
    • EPA Docket Center, Room 3334
    • 1301 Constitution Ave. NW
    • Washington, DC 20460

For Fact Sheets, the full proposed rule, and any other information, visit the following link:

Brian Mellor About Brian Mellor

Brian Mellor works with Environmental Source Samplers, Inc. (ESS), an environmental consulting firm specializing in stack testing, CEMS Testing, and EPA air emissions compliance.

ESS has conducted international stack testing projects at Johnson Atoll, in the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, and various parts of Europe. If you need a team that will do your international job with efficiency and effectiveness, call ESS at (910) 799-1055 or visit www.ESSKnowsAir.com.