WASHINGTON—Business and manufacturing interests faced off against environmentalists and consumer advocates as they took opposite sides on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule to limit carbon emissions from new power plants.
Under the EPA proposal that was unveiled Sept. 20, new large natural gas-fired turbines would have to meet a carbon dioxide limit of 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour. For smaller natural gas-fired turbines and coal-fired units, the limit would be 1,100 pounds per megawatt-hour.
"By taking common-sense action to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, we can slow the effects of climate change and fulfill our obligation to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our children," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy about the proposed rule.
Speaking at the National Press Club Sept. 20, McCarthy said the scientific evidence that carbon emissions cause climate change is overwhelming. The effects of climate change are all-pervasive, she said, affecting air, water, and the health of the public.
"One in 10 children in the U.S. lives with asthma every day," she said. "If your child doesn't use an inhaler, you're one lucky parent."
Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen hailed the EPA proposal as an important step toward slowing climate change, and said there was no time to waste in promulgating it.
"Power plants account for 40 percent of U.S. carbon pollution," Public Citizen said. "We have the technology and solutions—starting with scaled-up investments in energy efficiency—to transition to a clean-energy economy in a way that creates jobs and does not result in higher energy prices for consumers."
But Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, said the proposed rule would hurt U.S. industry severely.
"If energy has been the one bright spot in the U.S. economy, then the regulations unveiled by the EPA today aim to dim it and jeopardize our gains," Timmons said.
"Manufacturers ultimately will be hit twice by EPA's greenhouse gas regulations, both as users of the energy being regulated and as industries considered next in line to receive similar regulations," he said.
McCarthy said she hopes to form partnerships with industry, labor, states and communities to create a flexible, achievable greenhouse gas standard. The EPA expects to unveil a proposed rule limiting carbon emissions from existing power plants sometime in 2014, she said.