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U.S. unveils first CO2 emission rules for power plants

Power generating plants in the U.S. could be looking for engineers to help with new technologies and plant retrofits after the EPA unveiled its new rules on emissions.


Power generating plants in the U.S. could be looking for engineers to help with new technologies and plant retrofits after the EPA unveiled its new rules on emissions.

On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled proposed regulations that would require all power plants to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent of their 2005 levels by the year 2030. This would be the first time that the U.S. has imposed emission limits on power plants.

The 645-page Clean Power Plan gives different options for achieving reductions, such as converting or replacing coal plants with natural gas plants, and improving plant heat rates. The plan also supports solar and nuclear energy sources, and it promotes energy efficiency for reducing emissions.

The coal industry is expected to feel most of the impact if the regulations are passed into law, which is not by any means certain. The proposals face stiff opposition from states such as West Virginia which are major coal producers, and from groups such as manufacturers.

According to Reuters, there are 1,000 power plants in the U.S., and they account for 40% of the carbon dioxide emissions. Coal plants provide 38% of the electricity.

In response to the U.S. announcement, Alberta Environment Minister Robin Campbell said that Canada and the U.S. should be working together on reducing emissions. In the Edmonton Journal, he was quoted as saying: “When you look at greenhouse gas emissions, there are no borders — air is air.”

Campbell said that the Americans are playing “catch up” with Canada and Alberta. Canada limited carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired plants in 2012. Alberta exacts a levy from large industrial carbon dioxide emitters and diverts those funds to research.