US Proposes New Power Plant Pollution Controls

Posted March 27th, 2012 at 2:10 pm (UTC-5)
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The United States for the first time is proposing to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, a controversial regulation that could sharply curb the use of pollution-causing coal to produce electricity in the country.

Environmental Protection Agency Chief Lisa Jackson on Tuesday called the new controls “a common-sense step” to sharply curb the emission of carbon dioxide from the country's power plants. That is the largest source of pollution linked to global climate change.

The rules would require that pollution from the new power plants over the coming years be limited to about half the amount caused currently at coal-powered power plants. The use of coal-fueled power plants in the U.S. has been declining, but still provides about 40 percent of the country's electricity.

The new regulation would not ban construction of plants using coal. But the cost of meeting the new anti-pollution standards would likely preclude power companies from building them. Electricity companies instead would likely build more power plants fueled with natural gas or nuclear energy.

Environmental controls often prove contentious in the United States. President Barack Obama's administration has sought to reduce carbon emissions, but business groups and opposition Republican lawmakers have fought new rules. Some critics have questioned the science behind claims that emissions are causing climate change.