Thursday, May 11, 2023; Harrisburg, PA. — Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the most stringent carbon dioxide emissions limits on fossil fuel-burning power plants in order to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power industry by 2040.
The proposed standards will result in reduced emissions for both existing coal and gas power plants and new gas-fired power plants. States will have the ability to implement those standards that can provide for a suite of options coal and natural gas plant operators can use to cut carbon emissions, including installing technology to capture carbon emissions or transition to renewable energy sources.
“Wind and solar power often outcompete fossil fuels in the market, and now that gas-fired power plants will finally have to pay for the pollution emitted from their smokestacks, this competition will be on a more-level playing field,” said PennFuture’s President and CEO Patrick McDonnell. “The EPA’s new carbon standards will improve public health and supercharge clean energy job creation.”
Existing power plants are responsible for 25% of the U.S.’s carbon emissions. Fossil fuels account for more than 60% of the U.S electricity generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Currently, only 21.5% comes from renewable energy, and in Pennsylvania it is only 5 percent.
The Supreme Court’s previous ruling said the EPA cannot force power plants to transition to clean energy sources, but reaffirmed agency authority to regulate harmful climate changing emissions.
PennFuture urges the EPA and Biden Administration to not rely on carbon capture and hydrogen technology as a solution to greenhouse gas emissions, since both would sustain historical polluters. In Pennsylvania, the fossil fuel industry hopes to use fracked gas to create hydrogen, perpetuating the pollution and injustices caused by drilling, pipelines, bomb trains, and other unsafe infrastructure. Ultimately, these unproven technologies risk being a waste of time and resources—they add expense and complexity to our energy systems at a time when proven renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy storage technologies are available and affordable.
“With any plan, we urge agencies to address environmental justice for historically misrepresented communities who have generational health conditions and economic disadvantages living near to these polluting power plants,” said PennFuture’s Director of Civic Engagement Emily Gale. “These communities deserve additional protections and receive a fair share of investment funding for renewable energy jobs.”
Climate change continues to be a pressing issue worldwide. While the EPA’s time frame allows for gradual compliance with the new limits, PennFuture is pleased that the power industry’s carbon emissions are finally being targeted for change.