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The Biden administration announces a plan to cut power plant emissions


These rules include the ability to prevent the emission of “more than 600 million tons of carbon by 2042”, which is equivalent to emissions from “half of American cars in one year.”

On Thursday, the administration of US President Joe Biden announced a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, especially those operating on gas and coal, starting from 2030, as part of expected measures within the framework of the United States’ climate commitments. The new regulations include the obligation of some coal-fired power plants to capture carbon dioxide emissions, rather than releasing them into the atmosphere.

If implemented, the measures would be the first time that the EPA has imposed restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. Electricity generation accounts for about a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

However, it is possible that these rules will be fought before the courts, as happened during a previous attempt in the same context during the era of President Barack Obama. “Across our country, Americans are seeing and feeling the devastating effects of climate change,” said EPA Administrator Michael Reagan.

These rules include the ability to prevent the emission of “more than 600 million tons of carbon by the year 2042,” equivalent to emissions from “half of American cars in one year,” according to Reagan.

He warned that it would lead to the closure of coal-fired power stations, stressing at the same time that it would have a “minor impact on electricity prices.” But the proposed rules differ significantly, based on the type of power plant, its level of use, or even the date of a potential planned shutdown.

The agency relies in particular on carbon dioxide capture and storage technologies, which are still uncommon and expensive.

However, the government is betting on its development, after passing the inflation reduction law last year, which included increasing tax exemptions for power plants that use these technologies. The first category relates to thermal power plants that use steam turbines, ie mainly coal-fired power plants.

According to the new regulations, any plant that plans to continue operating after 2040 must install technologies that capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted starting in 2030.

On the other hand, there are no restrictions on carbon power plants that will be idle by 2032, or even those that will operate until 2035 at less than 20 percent of their capacity.

However, the EPA stresses that adopting these technologies will take time and will be cost-effective, especially for plants that operate for a longer time.

“chain of actions”

For gas-fired power plants using combustion turbines, two pathways have been proposed: first, carbon dioxide capture, and second, low-carbon hydrogen.

New high-capacity gas-fired power plants will have to capture 90 percent carbon dioxide by 2035, or use 30 percent low-carbon hydrogen by 2032 and 96 percent by 2038. The same rules apply for The largest gas-fired power plants.

Michael Reagan confirmed that his proposals are “one hundred percent consistent” with the commitments of Joe Biden, who promised to produce carbon-free electricity from the year 2035. These proposals are also “part of a series of measures,” as he put it.

In 2015, Barack Obama announced a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, but this plan was blocked before it could take effect. While the case went to the Supreme Court, last year the court restricted EPA’s ability to act.

According to its decision, the general rules that would lead to a forced transition from coal to other energy sources are beyond the authority of the agency.

Reagan said the measures presented Thursday follow the EPA’s “traditional approach” to operating under the Clean Air Act. “We are confident that we are within these limits,” he said.

But the new rules must undergo a period of public discussion, before they are finalized.

Between “transformation” and “comedy”

Dan Lachoff of the World Resources Institute told AFP that the measures “signal the end of the era of endless pollution from power plants.”

For her part, Julie McNamara of the Union of Scientists Concerned with Climate Change (UCS) said the plan represented a “transformation”. But Lachoff and McNamara lamented that the proposal did not go further with regard to gas-fired power plants.

Some environmental organizations are also critical of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, which they fear allow polluting power plants to continue, rather than converting directly to renewable energies.

Officials in the “Climate Justice Coalition” considered that this is a “comedy” based on “unproven” techniques, and constitutes an “expensive scam”. The National Mining Association considered that “imposing” this technology “before it (its efficacy) is technically and financially proven is nothing more than a show.”

There are currently only about 35 carbon dioxide capture and storage sites released by industrial processes or electricity generation worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency.

The absorption capacity of these sites is about 45 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, while the total emissions are 37 billion tons annually worldwide.

In 2022, about 60 percent of electricity production in the United States will come from gas (40 percent) or coal (20 percent), according to the US Energy Information Administration, followed by nuclear power (18 percent) and renewables (21.5 percent). cent).

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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