WASHINGTON DC (April 25, 2024) — Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized strong new pollution standards for the electric power sector, which will result in unprecedented reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as part of the Biden administration’s whole-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis.

The new rule requires existing coal-fired units to begin capturing nearly all carbon dioxide emissions by 2032 or cease operations by 2039, compared to 2030 and 2040 in the draft rule. New natural gas plants that operate more than 40% of the time would need to capture nearly all of their carbon by 2032, several years earlier than in the draft rule. The final rule removes the dual performance standard involving use of hydrogen and only includes a standard based on carbon capture and storage for new baseload natural gas plants. It sets emissions standards based on available control technologies and what is feasible on a plant-by-plant basis.  

The power sector currently accounts for a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and emits other forms of air pollution which disproportionately affects disadvantaged communities. These new regulations will drive 1.4 billion tons of carbon emissions reductions by 2047 to help achieve U.S. climate goals.

EPA indicates it will issue additional regulations to cover existing gas plants soon to more robustly address the multiple forms of pollution resulting from those power sources.  

Following is a statement from Lori Bird, Director, US Energy Program, World Resources Institute:

“The days of unlimited carbon pollution are over. This rule is a massive step forward in the Biden Administration’s efforts to fight the climate crisis. It provides the certainty needed for the power industry and regulators to evaluate new generation sources, plan for changes to the grid and electricity mix, and maintain reliability in coming years.  

“The power sector is the second largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Requiring power plants to slash carbon pollution by more than 80% below 2005 levels by 2040 represents a massive step toward a more prosperous, clean and equitable future for everyone. With electricity demand growing, it’s more important than ever that the U.S. cuts its power sector emissions.  

“The Inflation Reduction Act's generous tax incentives provide multiple pathways for electricity producers to keep consumer costs low even as they cut emissions from America’s dirtiest power plants. This smart approach is a win-win for electricity consumers, local communities and power companies.

“With the power plant rule and recently unveiled vehicle standards, the Biden administration has delivered a powerful one-two punch in the fight against climate change. Now the administration should finalize additional rules that cover multiple air pollutant emissions from existing gas plants. These existing plants represent the majority of power generation emissions and will be critical to comprehensively addressing emissions from the power sector.”