Yesterday, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to set greenhouse gas emissions limits for new coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants was published in the Federal Register. This proposal was originally posted on EPA’s website on September 20, 2013; however, the formal publication triggers the start of a 60-day public comment period. The publication also suggests that EPA is still on track to meet President Obama’s June 2014 deadline for publishing an initial proposal to regulate emissions from existing power plants.
The proposed rule would limit new coal plants to 1,100 pounds of CO2 emissions per megawatt-hour (lbs/MWh) of electricity produced, with compliance measured on a rolling average basis during each 12-operating month period. The proposal would also require new small natural gas plants to meet a 1,100 lbs/MWh emission limit, while requiring larger, more efficient natural gas plants to meet a limit of 1,000 lbs/MWh. The proposed rule will not regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing or modified power plants.
Comments on the proposed rule are due by March 10, 2014, although EPA noted in the proposal that a comment will be “best assured of having its full effect” if received by February 7, 2014. EPA will also hold a public hearing on January 28, 2014 in Washington, D.C. from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, during which interested parties will be able to present their views (limited to 5 minutes each) concerning the proposed rule. Given that EPA received over 2.5 million comments on its initial April 2012 proposal, a large number of stakeholders are likely to voice comments.