EPA Finalizes New Standards to Significantly Cut Carbon Pollution from Power Plants

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PHILADELPHIA, PA — In a landmark move to combat climate change, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Thursday the finalization of updated standards aimed at drastically reducing carbon emissions from coal and new gas-burning power plants. This initiative is projected to slash carbon emissions in the power sector by over 62% below 2022 levels and more than 75% below 2005 levels by 2035, aligning with the ambitious goals set forth by the Inflation Reduction Act.

Pennsylvania, recognized as the fourth-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the nation as of 2020, stands at a critical juncture. With a significant portion of its emissions stemming from coal and gas power plants, the state has been identified as a major contributor to global warming. The PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center’s recent findings underscore the urgent need for regulatory action, pinpointing 11 of the 12 highest-polluting facilities in Pennsylvania as fossil fuel power plants.

Flora Cardoni, Field Director of the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center, lauded the EPA’s new standards as a pivotal step towards mitigating climate pollution within the state and beyond. Cardoni highlighted the recent severe flooding and downpours that have devastated parts of Pennsylvania, illustrating the dire consequences of unchecked carbon emissions. “Today’s new standards from the EPA are a step in the right direction,” Cardoni stated, emphasizing the critical role of policy in addressing climate change.

The suite of final rules introduced by the EPA under various environmental protections acts, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, targets a broad spectrum of pollution from the power sector. Key provisions include stringent controls on carbon pollution for long-term coal-fired and new natural gas-fired plants, significant reductions in mercury and toxic metals emissions, and enhanced regulations for wastewater and coal ash disposal.

These comprehensive measures are expected to offer profound climate and health benefits that far exceed the compliance costs associated with implementation. By 2035, the EPA estimates the regulations could result in up to 1,200 avoided premature deaths, significant reductions in hospital visits and asthma cases, and fewer school and work absences due to improved air quality.

The EPA’s announcement marks a significant advancement in the Biden administration’s efforts to curb fossil fuel emissions and address climate change at a national level. By implementing rigorous standards for the power sector, the EPA aims not only to protect public health and the environment but also to ensure the delivery of reliable electricity across the United States.

With Pennsylvania positioned as a key player in the nation’s energy landscape, the new EPA standards present an unparalleled opportunity for the state to lead by example in the transition towards cleaner, more sustainable energy sources. This initiative represents a crucial step forward in the collective fight against climate change, promising a healthier, more resilient future for communities across Pennsylvania and the country.

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