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EPA Announces Emissions Regulations for Power Plants

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EPA emissions regulations: It's OK to give up on coal.
EPA emissions regulations: It’s OK to give up on coal.

The carbon footprint of the United States is particularly heavy, but recent emissions regulations announced by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) should help to reduce it.

The EPA has been working, for decades really, on reducing fuel consumption and its associated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. While this has probably been most notable in the transportation sector, other CO2 generators haven’t been getting the same attention, until now. Currently, power plants produce nearly 40% of all CO2 emissions in the United States.

The EPA has finally announced its regulations for reducing emissions in the power-generating sector, using 2005 emissions as a baseline. By 2020, power plant emissions are to be cut by 25%, and by 2030, a total of 30%. Between human health and climate change, the risks of inaction are clear, which explains the EPA driving to reduce CO2 and PM2.5 emissions.

Power plant operators aren’t happy with the new emissions regulations, especially coal-power states, such as Ohio. Each state, under the new EPA emissions regulations, can pursue its own emissions-reduction methods, such as more-efficient fuels or scrubbing equipment, but not every state sees this as a blessing. Ohio legislators are working to reduce the impact of the new regulations on their coal operations, and one Wyoming senator said the Obama EPA was “out to kill coal and 800,000 jobs.”

On the other hand, what of the benefits of the EPA’s emissions-reduction regulations? Adding up the mounting costs of PM2.5-emissions-related healthcare and climate-change-fueled damages, the United States alone stands to save at least $90 billion.

As for “killing coal,” well, you should have known it was a dying industry, and there’s been plenty of time to come up with cleaner alternatives, whether it be alternative fuels or emissions-reduction technology. It’s too late to cry about it, now.

Photo credit: C. Young Photography

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