Pulling The Plug On Big Coal

On Friday, the EPA proposed tougher emissions standards that new power plants must meet. In the absence of climate change legislation, it’s a BFD. Brad Plumer examines the impact:

The regulations aren’t likely to have a huge impact in the near future — the standard will make it extremely hard to build new coal plants in the United States, but utilities weren’t planning many new coal plants anyway, because natural gas is a cheaper alternative. Still, the rule does have fairly big implications for the energy industry and climate change down the road.

Brian Merchant thinks the proposal means the end of coal power plants:

Essentially, if someone wants to build a new coal plant, in order to make it clean enough to meet these new rules, they’ll have to invest in Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) technology. CCS is a highly experimental (and highly expensive) technology that allows coal plants to pump their emissions underground instead of releasing them into the atmosphere … Unfortunately for the coal companies, but thankfully for pretty much everyone else on the planet, nobody really thinks CCS will work.

Molly Redden believes that this is a watershed moment for climate policy:

What makes these rules truly significant is that they will be the first to ever regulate the carbon-dioxide emissions of power plants, the largest cumulative source of emissions in the American economy. They thus set the stage for the more truly meaningful regulations Obama plans to introduce in his second term, on carbon-dioxide emissions from existing power plants. That makes them natural testing grounds for industry and environmental lobbyists—and for some of the same legal challenges that are expected to beset the draft rules to regulate existing power plants.