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EPA unlikely to require CCS for existing plants, McCarthy indicates


From the September 25, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published September 25, 2013

By Jeannine Anderson
Editor

The Environmental Protection Agency appears very unlikely to require carbon capture and storage (CCS) for existing power plants, based on remarks delivered Sept. 23 by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Carbon capture and storage "is really effective as a tool to reduce emissions when it's designed with the facility itself," McCarthy told reporters at a Washington, D.C., breakfast briefing hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "It is not seen, at least at this stage, as an add-on that can be used on an existing facility. It doesn't seem like it's appropriate at this stage."

Under a proposed rule announced by the EPA on Sept. 20, CCS would be required for any new coal-fired power plants built in the United States. Under the rule, which sets new source performance standards for new fossil fuel-burning power plants, new coal-fired power plants would be restricted to 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity produced. To comply with this tight limit, coal plants would have to use "partial" CCS, the EPA said. (See Public Power Daily, Sept. 23.) Under partial CCS, coal-fired plants would have to capture roughly 30 to 50 percent of their carbon emissions, an EPA official told reporters Sept. 20.

APPA said the new EPA proposal on carbon is "poor policy because it requires technology that is unproven and not commercially viable." (See the Sept. 23 Public Power Daily.)

"CCS is feasible, and it's available," McCarthy said at the Monitor breakfast. "We're not suggesting that it does not add cost to coal, compared to conventional coal. But if you're looking at coal being a viable fuel for the future over the next decade, when we believe that climate change must be addressed internationally, it does create a path forward."

On Sept. 20, as it announced the proposed carbon limits for new fossil fuel-burning power plants, the EPA also said it is starting work on a set of standards to curb carbon dioxide from existing power plants. A proposal for that rule is due by June 1, 2014, and the agency has said it expects to issue a final carbon rule for existing power plants by June 2015.

 

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