Obama Administration Defends Carbon Pollution Limits for Power Plants

In a House subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, the Obama administration defended its Climate Action Plan against criticism from the GOP and the coal industry. The hearing focused on the administration’s plan to limit carbon pollution from new power plants.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy assured skeptical House members that—despite the tightened regulations—coal will continue to be a significant part of the U.S.’s energy future. “The rule will provide certainty for the future of new coal moving forward, and in terms of existing facilities, coal will continue to represent a significant source of energy for decades to come,” said McCarthy. The plan will also affect natural gas power plants, but since natural gas burns cleaner, these plants will have an easier time meeting new emissions standards.

The coal industry and its allies in the House, meanwhile, sounded off against the plan, arguing that it would spell the end for coal—already struggling because of the comparatively low price of natural gas due to the increased use of fracking.

The Obama administration’s plan to limit carbon pollution from new power plants represents a central component of Obama’s strategy to mitigate climate change. The details of the plan, though, have not been disclosed. The EPA has a Friday deadline to release a proposal outlining the new regulations.

The regulations will eventually apply to existing power plants, as well. While the rule will make it difficult for new coal-fired power plants to be built, Secretary Moniz indicated that the Department of Energy would be helping the coal industry by investing billions of dollars in carbon capture and sequestration technology.

Earth Day Network commends the Obama administration for forging ahead with its commitment to limit carbon pollution from new power plants. We eagerly await the EPA’s revised proposal.